Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sexist passages

There are always two ways of looking at statements from the past where women are concerned. One of them is in comparison to our society. The other is from the standpoint of the society at the time. If you transport these statements into our time, the sound awfully sexist. After all, Women's Lib was a product of the 60s even in our culture (although there were earlier feminist voices). On the other hand, these statements may have sounded positively liberating to people back then. 
Thus, for example, people today react to passages in the Christian Bible that say "Wives obey your husbands." But I suspect that people in the time these statements were written were far more surprised by statements like "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church," since wives in that time knew that the culture expected them to be submissive, Christian or not. 

74 comments:

Kathen said...

So the culture of that time did not expect men to love their wives?

Do you have evidence for that?

Kathen said...

Could you tell us more about how you see this? Was Paul wrong, excusably wrong given his culture but still wrong? The idea that women should obey their husbands certainly did not start with Christianity but it has been a part of Christian teaching since Paul's time. Plenty of Christians still think that. Until recently the Catholic Church taught that a married woman should not even leave the house without her husband's permission (a rule that still applies in Islam). As you know, C.S.Lewis, in the middle of the last century, thought that a woman should obey her husband and that it was part of Christian teaching that she should.

This idea was based at least in part on Bible verses such as the one you quote. Did everyone get them wrong? Can Christian teaching be changed as the culture changes? If so, what else can be changed?

Crude said...

Is it possible that women have any kind of unique duty to their husbands, and husbands to their wives?

Papalinton said...

I take it the statement about the kind of unique duty equally applies to same sex marriages?

Papalinton said...

Kathleen
It seems to be a historical given that Christian teachings do and will continue to change as the culture changes. One example; society is currently in the midst of that very process with the better and just thinkers in the community having broached the tipping point with regard to same sex marriage. focus is rightly now on sustaining the loving relationship between two people rather than on their gender. it is only a matter of time before the magisterium of the catholic Church will come to its senses necessitating re-interpretation of the bible.

The trend is ineluctable.

im-skeptical said...

Paul regarded women as equals. His writings show no hint of placing them in a subordinate role. However 1 Timothy says "Similarly (too) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and golden ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. A woman must receive instructions silently and under complete control. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control."

This book, while attributed to Paul, is believed by most scholars to be authored by someone else, after the time of Paul.

See here.

Crude said...

Is it possible that women have any kind of unique duty to their husbands, and husbands to their wives?

The question is repeated, because answering it scares people.

An additional question, to provoke more fear:

What can a woman do in a relationship with her husband that would be worthy of condemnation?

And Happy Thanksgiving, from a theistic freethinker.

B. Prokop said...

"believed by most scholars"

Really? Did you count them? Can you cite a reputable poll?

I for one do not believe your statement.

Crude said...

Bob,

Happy Thanksgiving.

Really? Did you count them? Can you cite a reputable poll?

He can barely cite Wikipedia. You'll be lucky if he'll quote the google search he'll rely on to answer your question without screwing it up. (Because, believe me, this guy has not read on this topic and come to a conclusion in light of the evidence. He's not capable of that sort of thing.)

Dustin Crummett said...

Is it possible that women have any kind of unique duty to their husbands, and husbands to their wives?

The question is repeated, because answering it scares people.


If the question is, do wives have obligations towards their husbands that they don't have towards other people, and vice versa, then yes, of course. No one should find that question uncomfortable. You make a bunch of special promises when you get married.

If the question is whether wives have special, non-reciprocated obligations to their husbands on account of their gender, and vice versa, then no, clearly not (outside of some trivial instances.) Why would they? No one should find that question uncomfortable, either, though they might be a little baffled as to why someone would need to ask it.

Dustin Crummett said...

And, incidentally, yeah, most biblical scholars think Paul didn't actually write Timothy. I'll let you do your own google search, though.

im-skeptical said...

"I for one do not believe your statement."

The evidence is out there, Bob.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

Very cooperative of you to demonstrate the accuracy of crude's prediction so quickly.

I'll see your google search and raise you John A.T. Robinson and Scott Hahn, both of whom convincingly argue for Pauline authorship of the Letters to Timothy.

I do think it's possible (but far from proven) that St. Luke was the actual "writer" of the letters (in that he physically wrote down the words), taking dictation from Paul and altering the wording (but not the content) here and there to reflect his own style.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

You can name millions of bible believers who ignore the evidence and insist that Paul reversed his earlier positions, changed his vocabulary and writing style, and wrote those books, responding to circumstances that existed after his death. But real scholars don't believe it.

B. Prokop said...

"bible believers who ignore the evidence"

So you assume that paying attention to the evidence cannot result in one's becoming a "Bible believer"? Way to beg the question!

By the way Skep, insisting there can be only one acceptable result of honest inquiry is the opposite of skepticism.

Oh, and if you're going to charge "Bible believers" with dishonest inquiry, you'd better be able to back up the accusation. Good luck with that, since you have yet to make a convincing defense of your slanderous accusation that the Early Church altered the Scriptures to comply with doctrine.

Crude said...

Dustin,

If the question is,

It's not.

Still waiting for some answers to my questions. To repeat 'em:

Is it possible that women have any kind of unique duty to their husbands, and husbands to their wives?

For the easily baffled: it will help you explain your bafflement in the context of describing what you believe the purpose of marriage to be.

What can a woman do in a relationship with her husband that would be worthy of condemnation?

Also easy.

And I suppose:

And, incidentally, yeah, most biblical scholars think Paul actually wrote Timothy. I'll let you do your own google search, though.

im-skeptical said...

Skepticism implies the need to have sufficient evidence to believe something. Faith is the opposite of that. There are certainly Christians who accept the evidence regarding biblical origins, but there are many who don't.

Crude said...

Bob,

To cap it off - the site Skep links to? You know, his 'the evidence is out there' site, which contains two book quotes?

It's a site run by a Jesus mythicist whose profession is, apparently, 'Orange county financial advisor.'

This is a little better than that time he linked to a full-blown Mystery Babylon conspiracy theorist site to bolster his religious claims, but not by much.

Crude said...

Actually, to really highlight what I'm talking about with Skep's approach to argument, just do the following.

A) Note Skep's endorsement of the opinions of the supposed majority of scholars on the subject of the authorship of 1 Timothy (which, by the way, is not the only time Paul made similar rumblings about men and women.)

B) Ask Skep what he thinks of Jesus mythicists, who voice an opinion utterly dismissed by the supposed majority of scholars.

Watch as 'this is what the majority of Bible scholars believes, and they believe that because of the evidence' collides with the Jesus Myth claim. Unless he dumps it, in which case, we can move on to the conversation about the number of problem atheists who are apparently quite deluded. ;)

im-skeptical said...

The site I referenced is not a mythicist site. It is an excellent resource, regardless of what you believe. Anybody with an ounce of sense should recognize that.

Papalinton said...

Now there are three people who believe Timothy was written by Paul; John A.T. Robinson, Scott Hahn and Bob Prokop. What a ringing endorsement.

Kathen said...

I hoped that Victor Reppert would answer my post. Perhaps he will.

The OP suggested, as I read it, that Paul could be excused for being sexist (as we see it) because of the culture he belonged to. That he was in fact in advance of his time (that is, more in tune with our time) when he said that husbands should love their wives. No evidence was given that husbands were not expected to love their wives in those days.

So, was Paul in fact wrong? That would mean that Christian moral teaching about marriage has been wrong since then up until about 50 years ago and is still wrong in some parts of Christianity, and Christian teachers have based their wrong teaching, at least in part, on the wrong teaching of Paul and other parts of the divinely inspired canon, including 1 Timothy which is part of the New Testament, whether it was written by Paul or not.

Or was Paul right and is Christianity committed to the teaching that marriage is not and was never meant to be an equal partnership?

Surely there is a problem here for modern Christians, including Victor Reppert.

B. Prokop said...

"Timothy was written by Paul"

And there's convincing evidence that it was not? I've read the alleged evidence. The interesting thing (which proponents of non-Pauline authorship never have an answer to) is that by their "logic" A Day in the Life cannot possibly have been written by the same person as I Want to Hold Your Hand, because the stylistic differences are so great that they couldn't possibly have come from the same composer.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

"Is it possible that women have any kind of unique duty to their husbands, and husbands to their wives?" ... No. Nature doesn't assign husbands and wives unique duties to each other. In a society that's more or less equal, the unique duties are things to which the partners will consent. In an unequal society, the unique duties will be determined by the society's preconceived expectations for men and women.

Dan Gillson said...

I should have said, "Metaphysically speaking, no."

B. Prokop said...

There is no correspondence between "unequal" and "unique". The terms should be neither confused nor conflated.

In an automobile engine, a carburetor is neither superior nor inferior to a piston, but they most definitely have unique functions within the whole. The same applies to male/husband and female/wife.

Ilíon said...

Kathen: "So the culture of that time did not expect men to love their wives?

Do you have evidence for that?
"

Prediction: this isn't an actual request to be helped to understand something about Classical culture(s) ... and no presented evidence will ever be sufficient.

====
Thus (and for those who *do* seek to understand), I'll not even attempt to present "evidence", but will simply state some facts I've learned in reading about the time and place.

One was expected to love -- or at least honor -- one's parents. If one were upper-class, one was permitted to love the slave who had reared one (in the place of one's father or parents both).

But, loving one's wife was considered a weakness; it was rather socially embarrassing.

Ilíon said...

How many more generations of women and men need to have miserable lives in attempting to force themselves and their marriage – their unique shared life -- into this false and unnatural leftist equalitarianism (*), before people are allowed to admit that Paul was right? And he was right both for his time and place, and for ours.

(*) which seems to have been promulgated intentionally to make people, especially women, miserable.

Ilíon said...

... and, keep in mind, this OP’s topic is love, which is an abiding and self-sacrificial decision; the topic is not sentimentality, which is a fleeting emotion.

Kathen said...

Victor Reppert

Please believe me when I say that Ilion's accusation is completely without foundation. I really would be interested in any evidence that Roman husbands were not expected to love their wives. If Christianity introduced the idea that husbands should care for their wives then that is a big plus for Christianity and it should be more widely known.

I will not talk to Ilion but I would like to know what you think.

Papalinton said...

A really astute comment Dan. And your response clearly illustrates the fluidity of interpretations about the nature of the relationship. The duties that characterize such a relationship are wholly dependent variables of the equal/unequal mores of the society. There is no metaphysical basis for claiming any unique prescriptive duties within a marriage.

Papalinton said...

"And there's convincing evidence that ["Timothy was written by Paul"] it was not?

Yep, evidence made sufficiently convincing, based on the probabilities, that Timothy was indeed not written by Paul. Even the highly apologetical catholic-resources.org can do little but concede the evidence:

"For the other four letters, about 80% of scholars think they were not written by Paul himself, but by one of his followers after his death: ..............The Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus) were most likely written late in the first century by some member(s) of the “Pauline School” who wanted to adapt his teachings to changing circumstances."


Another religious site seems pretty clear: "As to the Pastorals, most scholars now agree that they are second-century forgeries."

im-skeptical said...

The point I was making is that if you separate the genuine Pauline books from those that are disputed (or forged), only the disputed ones contain comments about women that indicate less than a fully equal role. The implication of this is that the earliest Christian teachings eventually changed with regard to their attitude toward women, and this change was sanctioned by the church.

Dustin Crummett said...

Still waiting for some answers to my questions. To repeat 'em:

Is it possible that women have any kind of unique duty to their husbands, and husbands to their wives?


Just repeating them verbatim doesn't help when the original question is ambiguous. But I imagine my answer to whatever your intended meaning is, is "no, obviously not."

What can a woman do in a relationship with her husband that would be worthy of condemnation?

All sorts of things. Murder him, commit adultery, drug him and tattoo a picture of Oswald Mosley on his face... paradigmatic instances of prima facie condemnable behavior would be things that violate the marriage vows, I guess.

And, incidentally, yeah, most biblical scholars think Paul actually wrote Timothy. I'll let you do your own google search, though.

Haha, clever, I'm rolling on the floor. The difference is that what I said was true and what you said was false. Obviously my saying so shouldn't have any epistemic force for you unless you think I'm trustworthy, but there are all sorts of true things I can say that shouldn't have any epistemic force for you unless you think I'm trustworthy.

B. Prokop said...

"based on the probabilities"

Oh, yeah. Really convincing.

Crude said...

Just repeating them verbatim doesn't help when the original question is ambiguous.

If the original question is too ambiguous for you, then ask for explanation. My disdain for Linton (a known plagiarist and idiot) and Skep (a known idiot) doesn't extend to all atheists. I'm quite a pleasant guy when people cut the shit.

All sorts of things. Murder him, commit adultery, drug him and tattoo a picture of Oswald Mosley on his face... paradigmatic instances of prima facie condemnable behavior would be things that violate the marriage vows, I guess.

Splendid. So a woman should consult her husband about what she does with her body, then - and it's immoral for her to do otherwise?

Haha, clever, I'm rolling on the floor.

So I notice. ;)

The difference is that what I said was true and what you said was false.

Let me guess: you know this is true, because a book quote said as much?

Another difference: I'm less interested in what 'most scholars say', and why they say it. Roll out the arguments and let's settle things there.

See, that's what Skep should have said from the start. Instead he dove for 'most scholars say, according to this site I like' and, as usual, smashed his own face off a contradiction. And yes, contra what Skep said, that site is run by a mythicist financial advisor.

And why did he make such a mistake? Evidence points to the usual reason: a lack of awareness of what those arguments are, an awareness that they don't prove what he thinks to the degree he demands they do, and... well, in his case, simple and plain ignorance.

Hence his dead silence about Jesus mythicism in this thread.

im-skeptical said...

The evidence in not invalidated by the fact that you don't like the person who compiled it. Can you say "logical fallacy"? And the site is still not a mythicist site.

Your never-ending ad hominem attacks speak volumes about who really is an idiot.

And finally, I believe the jury is still out on the issue of mythicism. There is substantial reason to doubt that the person of Jesus existed. Carrier has made a strong case in On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt.

Dustin Crummett said...

If the original question is too ambiguous for you, then ask for explanation.

Explanation, then?

My disdain for Linton (a known plagiarist and idiot) and Skep (a known idiot) doesn't extend to all atheists.

I'm not an atheist. Reasonably orthodox Episcopalian. (Braces for the obvious "What's the difference?"joke. Hahaha.)

So a woman should consult her husband about what she does with her body, then - and it's immoral for her to do otherwise?

Sure, to the extent that the husband has a reciprocal obligation to consult her about what he does with his body--in practice, it depends on the circumstance. In neither case does "consult" entail "obey."

Let me guess: you know this is true, because a book quote said as much?

Osmosis, mostly. My office is in the same building as the theology department.

Another difference: I'm less interested in what 'most scholars say', and why they say it. Roll out the arguments and let's settle things there.

I actually don't have any strong opinion on the matter, myself.

Dustin Crummett said...

(Though I'd say the obligation to consult is prima facie and can be overriden.)

Dustin Crummett said...

It could probably also be waived or cancelled--waived if we have an understanding that there's no need to consult about a topic; cancelled if the other partner has already violated their obligations in certain ways.

Crude said...

Dustin,

Explanation, then?

To begin with, the sheer fact that there are some undeniable and considerable biological differences between men and women set them up to have different obligations to each other in the context of a marriage.

Around pregnancy alone you have a suite of natural inequalities, and those inequalities imply unique duties. Knowledge of paternity doesn't come up with a woman, for obvious reasons. Incapacity during the course of pregnancy, likewise. Hell, simply knowing when she's most likely to get pregnant (and informing her spouse) also comes in to play. These are basic, easy, obvious-out-of-the-gates differences, inequalities, and things that strongly imply some unique obligations.

Do you deny they exist? Do you really think they're trivial? And this isn't anywhere close to an exhaustive list - but hopefully it's one that can be appreciated to start out.

Sure, to the extent that the husband has a reciprocal obligation to consult her about what he does with his body--in practice, it depends on the circumstance. In neither case does "consult" entail "obey."

I haven't gotten into 'obey' yet, and that question in particular wasn't even aimed at pointing out the different obligations. I've got something else in mind.

But already, it looks like you're backing off. So it's an obligation. But it can be overridden, waived, and cancelled. Based on what? What considerations lead to that?

Let's go further. Does a woman have an obligation to tell her husband that she's pregnant, and by whom?

I actually don't have any strong opinion on the matter, myself.

Well, Skep does. And as you can see, he swung from 'this is what the scholars say, the scholars follow the evidence, you disagree with the scholars and that means you reject the evidence' to 'Christ never existed, he's a myth, the scholars are all wrong because they don't come to the conclusion I like' pretty quickly.

im-skeptical said...

Yeah, I swung all the way from no position to no position. Unlike you, however, I am willing to consider and weigh the evidence on both sides.

Crude said...

Yeah, I swung all the way from no position to no position

Earlier:

Paul regarded women as equals. His writings show no hint of placing them in a subordinate role.

But real scholars don't believe it.

And finally, I believe the jury is still out on the issue of mythicism.

As usual, Skep - you've self-destructed. You made a stupid gambit, you fumbled with evidence you didn't understand using sources you didn't even research, and then you contradicted yourself hilariously - swinging from 'scholars all know the truth, only dumb people dissent' to 'the jury is still out and the scholars are wrong to say otherwise. Which is par for the course with you.

I'd say you should learn a lesson from your humiliations, but c'mon - you're not capable. Be silent, and hide behind your betters.

Now, adults are talking. Shhhh.

im-skeptical said...

I stand by my statements. Carry on with your babbling.

Dustin Crummett said...

Do you deny they exist? Do you really think they're trivial? And this isn't anywhere close to an exhaustive list - but hopefully it's one that can be appreciated to start out.


Obligations relating to pregnancy are among the ones I had in mind when I said "trivial instances" earlier--"trivial"not because they're unimportant, but because they're sort of obvious. Of course they can be very important. (I was thinking of this in the context of supposed duties to obey, etc., where the reason for sex differentiation among obligations is, at best, not obvious.)

Let's go further. Does a woman have an obligation to tell her husband that she's pregnant, and by whom?

Probably usually.

But already, it looks like you're backing off. So it's an obligation. But it can be overridden, waived, and cancelled.

I think that's basically true of everything, though (strictly speaking, I think it's better to call these prima facie or pro tanto obligations, for the reason that they might be overridden/cancelled/waived and thus fail to be actual, all-things-considered obligations.) I'm inclined towards a sort of Rossian pluralism or Dancy-style particularism (perhaps recast in consequentialist terms, a la the Jamie Dreier-style consequentialization strategy), which means essentially that we have a bunch of features of actions which at first glance tell in favor of their being obligations, and make those actions obligations in the absence of countervailing reasons, but which can always be overridden or cancelled by other considerations. (So I think, for instance, that there's a prima facie obligation not to lie, but no all-things-considered obligation not to lie to the Nazis when they ask you for the people you're hiding.) All this is to say that it's not really backing off, just trying to situate the conversation in the broader ethical framework I'm inclined towards.

But it can be overridden, waived, and cancelled. Based on what? What considerations lead to that?

In the case of the obligation to tell your husband that you're pregnant with somebody else's child, I suppose the obligation might be waived if he made clear that he didn't want to know. Some obvious cases where the obligation might be overridden or cancelled might be if, say, your husband is abusive and might harm you or the person you cheated with if you told him, or if he has abandoned you and you haven't heard from him in years, or if you live in a society where illegitimate children are treated very poorly. (Whether the obligation is overridden in the last case might depend on whether your husband will keep the fact secret or not.)

Crude said...

Dustin,

Obligations relating to pregnancy are among the ones I had in mind when I said "trivial instances" earlier--"trivial"not because they're unimportant, but because they're sort of obvious

Yeah, and I think obvious differences are important. All I'm trying to establish here is that this isn't an equal relationship even if both sides would like it to be. That doesn't establish 'therefore women must be subservient', but it does help to illustrate what's attainable from the outset in a sexual relationship, particularly a marriage.

I think that's basically true of everything, though

Pardon me - backing off makes it sound like you're retreating in the face of an onslaught or something. But how are you qualifying it? What are these countervailing reasons? Because I admit, I'm suspecting that those 'countervailing reasons' are far from thought experiment extremes. I could be wrong, hence I'm pressing.

Here, let me ask an easy one. 'She just doesn't want to.' Is this a good countervailing reason to ditch those obligations?

Or another. 'It's my body, I can do what I want with it, I don't owe any explanations to anyone. No one owns me.'

Does she have a justified reason in hand?

And one reason I'm asking all this is because I want to know what you think about these responsibilities and duties in the broad sense because we get into the controversial particulars.

Papalinton said...

"Around pregnancy alone you have a suite of natural inequalities, and those inequalities imply unique duties. Knowledge of paternity doesn't come up with a woman, for obvious reasons. Incapacity during the course of pregnancy, likewise. Hell, simply knowing when she's most likely to get pregnant (and informing her spouse) also comes in to play. These are basic, easy, obvious-out-of-the-gates differences, inequalities, and things that strongly imply some unique obligations."

Wow! This guy is warped. What a strange, twisted and perverse notion of womanhood. An Augustine-like perspective on women to be sure. Anyone today that thinks the idea that bearing children, pregnancy in general, fecundity level and ovulation cycles are 'natural inequalities' is simply bizarre, off the wall. Unequal compared to what? What's the comparator?

I wonder what Kathen makes of these wacko 'natural inequalities'?

Crude said...

As usual, I have to point out that Linton is a liar and known plagiarist besides being very slow. (Hence his deciding to attack me on the point that, gasp - women bear a particular burden when it comes to conceiving children, and thus there are natural inequalities and obligations at work for men and women there. If others would like to argue that men and women are utterly equal there, please do so.)

Anyone else is free to question me, of course. I just like to explain why, despite my usually replying to hatemongers, I tend to see fit to ignore this one. He's sufficiently shit all over himself intellectually, in public, that I can let him spew his hate without answer. Unless he says something so stupid that mocking him would be good for a laugh. ;)

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

"Here, let me ask an easy one. 'She just doesn't want to.' Is this a good countervailing reason to ditch those obligations?" ... Yes. I don't do many things on account of "just not wanting to." A reason doesn't need to have probative force for someone else in order for it to count.

"Or another. 'It's my body, I can do what I want with it, I don't owe any explanations to anyone. No one owns me.' Does she have a justified reason in hand?" ... Yes. The question is, why does she need to justify doing x to someone else? If she is really an individual, and if we value individualism, then she should have the same amount of space to reason as wrongly as everyone else does, because an individual isn't forced to be under anyone's tutelage.

Dustin Crummett said...

All I'm trying to establish here is that this isn't an equal relationship even if both sides would like it to be. That doesn't establish 'therefore women must be subservient', but it does help to illustrate what's attainable from the outset in a sexual relationship, particularly a marriage.

The more I think about it, the less clear it is to me that there is, in any interesting sense, any kind of non-reciprocal obligation in play. I think a man has a prima facie obligation to tell his wife if he fathers a child with somebody else. So probably the most felicitous way to think about what's going on is that there's a mutual prima facie obligation to keep the other person in the relationship informed about your sexual and reproductive activities, and this means somewhat different things depending on the sex of the person involved, but not very interestingly different things.

But how are you qualifying it? What are these countervailing reasons? Because I admit, I'm suspecting that those 'countervailing reasons' are far from thought experiment extremes. I could be wrong, hence I'm pressing.

It's probably impossible to specify them in advance--partly because they might vary from relationship to relationship, mostly because there are a potentially infinite number of them that can't sorted in any kind of algorithmic way. If you need to figure out what to do in a particular circumstance, you think about the circumstance and then apply phronesis. (Maybe not a helpful answer, but again, I think this is just generally true in ethical thought.)

Here, let me ask an easy one. 'She just doesn't want to.' Is this a good countervailing reason to ditch those obligations?

No, not under normal circumstances.

Or another. 'It's my body, I can do what I want with it, I don't owe any explanations to anyone. No one owns me.'

Does she have a justified reason in hand?


Usually not, I think. When you enter voluntarily into a marriage, you take on requirements to tell your spouse about some things that you don't need to tell people about in general. (But again, the man wouldn't be able to say the same thing to justify refusing to appraise his wife of his having fathered a child with someone else, so this doesn't seem interestingly inegalitarian to me.)

Crude said...

Dan,

Yes. The question is, why does she need to justify doing x to someone else? If she is really an individual, and if we value individualism, then she should have the same amount of space to reason as wrongly as everyone else does, because an individual isn't forced to be under anyone's tutelage.

Right, but I wasn't asking if she should have, say... the legal right to say what she's saying, or asking if there should be a legal right to force her in another direction. You talk of 'the space to reason wrongly', and that's going to mean we should ask if she is reasoning wrongly - which would mean she doesn't have a justified reason after all.

Dustin,

The more I think about it, the less clear it is to me that there is, in any interesting sense, any kind of non-reciprocal obligation in play.

I worry here that what you find uninteresting, I find very interesting.

You're covering both the husband's and the wife's duty under the general banner of 'keep each other informed about each other's reproductive activities', but I think that's like categorizing eggs and milk as dairy products (they are) and then deciding they're both quite equal things (they are not.)

(Maybe not a helpful answer, but again, I think this is just generally true in ethical thought.)

I don't know about that. I think ethics academics love to dive for limit cases, but there's no lack of very common ethical questions.

Re your two 'no's, okay. Any reason why?

When you enter voluntarily into a marriage, you take on requirements to tell your spouse about some things that you don't need to tell people about in general.

I asked before what you saw the purpose of marriage as being. Give any thought to that?

I come at these questions from a generally Aristotilean/Catholic view when I'm talking as a Christian, to put things in perspective. So I'm pretty at home with the idea that, from duty to duty, there are lopsided duties and obligations here and there, on both sides.

Papalinton said...

To hold to a concept of 'inequality' between men and women illustrates a deep ignorance of genetics and biology. By random happenstance a human can be born either male or female by the matter of one chromosome. Indeed genetics has clearly demonstrated the even that differentiation between men and women is not altogether assured or clear with many born of undetermined gender. So the expression 'inequality' between men and women has no epistemological grounding at this level.

So where did this notion of inequality originate? Through the misperceived metaphysics of theological thought, a misperception of first principles about being, knowing, substance, cause, identity. I say theological thought because theology was the predominant paradigm through which one engaged in philosophical musings. It is understandable how this occurred historically given the very late blooming of science to rival theology as an explanatory tool. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy puts it:

"The Enlightenment begins with the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rise of the new science progressively undermines not only the ancient geocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles."

Today we now know and understand the tenuous narrative of theological thought and the extent of its divergence from the scientific narrative. The 'inequality' of women to men is another of those divergent and harmful misperceptions that has compromised the full blooming of womanhood in equal partnership in our patriarchal and endemically misogynist society.

Thankfully, such a view as 'natural inequalities' are slowly being understood as not being natural at all, but rather just another figment of our imagination that has to be robustly challenged and put to rest.

Dustin Crummett said...

You're covering both the husband's and the wife's duty under the general banner of 'keep each other informed about each other's reproductive activities', but I think that's like categorizing eggs and milk as dairy products (they are) and then deciding they're both quite equal things (they are not.)

My thought is just that what you owe to each other is, fundamentally, the same thing--in a way that, plausibly, what (say) a parent and a child owe each other is fundamentally not the same thing.

Re your two 'no's, okay. Any reason why?

If nothing else, generally in a marriage you've made a promise (if only an implied promise) to keep each other apprised about these things. If I promise to do something, generally I have to do it even if I don't want to, since generally you don't get released from a promise just because you don't want to fulfill it. Likewise, the fact that I don't generally have to do something for someone else doesn't release me from my promise, since part of the point of a promise is to create a special obligation to the promised that I don't have to others.

I'd also be open to the thought that maybe a marriage is just the kind of relationship where keeping one another apprised of things like this is generally appropriate, apart from the promise.

I asked before what you saw the purpose of marriage as being. Give any thought to that?

A thought would be something like: a marital relationship is characterized by a mutual commitment to a romantic union that's set apart from others in virtue of its depth and degree of commitment; the purpose of entering into the marriage--that is, of making that commitment--is to help facilitate that kind of union. (Yes, this means, at the very least, that same-sex marriages are appropriate--I view this as one of the view's plausible consequences!)

I come at these questions from a generally Aristotilean/Catholic view when I'm talking as a Christian, to put things in perspective. So I'm pretty at home with the idea that, from duty to duty, there are lopsided duties and obligations here and there, on both sides.

Maybe we should turn to where you're going with the line of questioning you've been pursuing. Suppose we accept, say, something like the Girgis-George-Anderson conjugal view, which I imagine you're sympathetic to (and which I think is totally crazy, fwiw); wifely submission doesn't *obviously* follow, does it?

Crude said...

Dustin,

My thought is just that what you owe to each other is, fundamentally, the same thing--in a way that, plausibly, what (say) a parent and a child owe each other is fundamentally not the same thing.

Well, I see differently. I think, under marriage, the two are bound to promises that are held under one common banner ('Upholding our vows') but in word and deed those vows demand different responsibilities.

To use another example: contract signing. Both parties uphold their end of the contract, they both enter into the contract willfully and equally. But that alone doesn't make their responsibilities equal at all.

If nothing else, generally in a marriage you've made a promise (if only an implied promise) to keep each other apprised about these things.

One thing I think we risk here is that we may both be talking about marriage in too broad of a sense. I'm interested in marriage as it is for Christians, with an eye on being true to Christian teaching (or, if we're off in 'unorthodox' land, justifying the unorthodoxies in light of Christian teaching, which presumably must be done even if one's unorthodox, if one still insists they are Christian.) I've got no doubt that some hypothetical people out there can see marriage as, say... some public statement of vows that can be whatever they damn well please, to whatever parties.

Put another way: if your view of marriage ultimately comes down to 'It is whatever people want it to be, they can write their own vows and come to their own agreements, and it's all great and holy', alright. Tell me as much. Doesn't seem to be your view, but maybe it is.

A thought would be something like: a marital relationship is characterized by a mutual commitment to a romantic union that's set apart from others in virtue of its depth and degree of commitment; the purpose of entering into the marriage--that is, of making that commitment--is to help facilitate that kind of union.

How does it help facilitate that kind of union? Are you therefore committed to the idea that people who choose not to get married therefore don't love each other very much or aren't really committed to each other, or that they are somehow consciously weakening or even devaluing their romantic relationship?

Here's one: do you defend the moral virtue of open marriages? Should these be blessed by the Church too?

Maybe we should turn to where you're going with the line of questioning you've been pursuing. Suppose we accept, say, something like the Girgis-George-Anderson conjugal view, which I imagine you're sympathetic to (and which I think is totally crazy, fwiw); wifely submission doesn't *obviously* follow, does it?

Never heard of it, frankly - or at least I never heard of GGA specifically. I've probably heard of the tenets, but you'll have to spell those out.

Either way, I'm actually after something more modest here right now: a concession that the model of wifely submission is entirely viable, compatible with Christian teaching, and laudable. If someone wants to argue that other arrangements are also compatible, etc (gay marriage) actually isn't a concern right now. To further spell out what I'm defending here: if a woman and a man desire that model of marriage, they are not wrong to do so, and if their community encourages and provides emotional and cultural support for their union, that's acceptable.

I've been bringing up fundamental and inescapable inequalities in relationships in part because, really, that's part of the lingua franca of a lot of people nowadays on ethics topics. It provides a foundation to build on with discussion.

Victor Reppert said...

In response to Kathen's question, it is of some interest to note that Paul does command husbands, not only to love their wives, but to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Many marriages in that time were arranged or were matters of convenience, and love was not considered essential to it. The idea of marrying someone you fell in love with has far from predominant in the world's history. So it wasn't anything trivial that Paul was asking husbands to do, and not something that we could expect men to automatically do, by any stretch of the imagination.

Papalinton said...

"To further spell out what I'm defending here: if a woman and a man desire that model of marriage, they are not wrong to do so, and if their community encourages and provides emotional and cultural support for their union, that's acceptable."

A useful and reasonable statement. However, it's when that 'community' [yet to define what is meant by 'community' relative to the couple] prescribes those demands and obligations that the kind of emotional and cultural support becomes a worrying and problematic issue. And we have plenty of good anthropological and sociological data and evidence about how the demands of religious 'communities' can make a marriage go pear-shaped very quickly.

Crude said...

Victor,

In response to Kathen's question, it is of some interest to note that Paul does command husbands, not only to love their wives, but to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Many marriages in that time were arranged or were matters of convenience, and love was not considered essential to it. The idea of marrying someone you fell in love with has far from predominant in the world's history.

I agree with some of what you're saying here, but I actually think there's another, interesting way to read Paul's command.

If I get you right, you're interpreting Paul as saying you should marry someone who you fall in love with. But it seems reasonable that Paul was actually saying something else: that you should love whoever you end up marrying. Which would make love not essential to 'who you decide to marry', but definitely essential to 'who you are married to'.

Victor Reppert said...

No, it isn't clear where these partnerships came from. In Corinthians 7 it seems that people are already paired up, leaving people to decide whether they should marry them (better than burning with passion), or not (to fully devote oneself fully to God. But how did the pairing take place. That has always been mysterious to me.

Ilíon said...


"I will not talk to Ilion ..."

I'm crushed ... by boundless joy at the fact.

"Please believe me when I say that Ilion's accusation is completely without foundation. ..."

I wonder how many readers will even *bother* to notice that I made no accusation (*) about her (**). Rather, I predicted -- based on what she herself had consciously chosen to post -- that she will turn out to be just one more of the all-too-common number of persons in commboxes who dispute something someone has said bu "asking" for "evidence".

Look again at what she herself wrote in response to VR's original post --

"So the culture of that time did not expect men to love their wives?

Do you have evidence for that?
"

Most of you readers have been around the block a time or two. You *know* from long experience that that post -- worded and presented in that manner -- is highly unlikely to mean, "Oh! I had never heard that. Can you suggest some further reading I can do on the matter to learn more about it?"


(*) though, it appears to me, from accusation this alone, that had I made an accusation, it would be borne out by subsequent behavior.

(**) even if 'Kathen' happens to be a 'he', he behaves like a 'she'

Dustin Crummett said...

Put another way: if your view of marriage ultimately comes down to 'It is whatever people want it to be, they can write their own vows and come to their own agreements, and it's all great and holy', alright. Tell me as much. Doesn't seem to be your view, but maybe it is.

No, I think there's more than that going on.

How does it help facilitate that kind of union?

The commitment might be partly constitutive of the relationship. But it also allows us to dedicate ourselves wholly to the relationship without feeling like we need to hedge our bets, worry about the other person leaving us, etc., since we're in this together, for keeps (theoretically, anyway. Maybe marriage doesn't serve this purpose as well in the modern West, since the divorce rate is so high.)

Incidentally, the commitment is also conducive to having a healthy environment for raising children, which I think is also an important function that marriage serves. (I think it can't be the defining characteristic because people can be married and not raise kids, and vice versa.)

Are you therefore committed to the idea that people who choose not to get married therefore don't love each other very much or aren't really committed to each other, or that they are somehow consciously weakening or even devaluing their romantic relationship?

Well, if we think of getting married primarily as making a commitment, there's *some* sense in which they're less committed to one another. And I suspect that, at least for most people, if they have the deepest kind of romantic relationship, making the kind of commitment at issue* will seem like a natural thing to do, and refusing to do it will be probably both indicative of something problematic and an obstacle to further growth. But certainly people could have a relationship that's great in a lot of ways without making the requisite commitment.

(*I think you could be married, in the morally relevant sense, without actually having a marriage ceremony, or going to the courthouse and filling out a form, or whatever (though those are usually good ideas.) There were probably marriages before there were any marriage ceremonies. So people who are in what they both understand to be a permanent relationship I might be happy to count as married, even if they never have a formal marriage.)

Here's one: do you defend the moral virtue of open marriages? Should these be blessed by the Church too?

I don't know.

Dustin Crummett said...

Never heard of it, frankly - or at least I never heard of GGA specifically. I've probably heard of the tenets, but you'll have to spell those out.

Roughly--sexual intercourse serves a unitive function that nothing else can because it's the only time the biological systems of two people cooperate towards a common end, and this union is the defining good of marriage.

Either way, I'm actually after something more modest here right now: a concession that the model of wifely submission is entirely viable, compatible with Christian teaching, and laudable.

I certainly don't think it's laudable--it isn't laudable to swear to obey when you don't have a good reason to do so, and there's no reason for a wife (qua wife) to swear to obey her husband.

To further spell out what I'm defending here: if a woman and a man desire that model of marriage, they are not wrong to do so, and if their community encourages and provides emotional and cultural support for their union, that's acceptable.

I suspect they usually are wrong to do so. (The major exception I can see: it's probably often been socially impossible for a woman to get by without entering such a marriage; in a case like that, the woman might be making the best of a terrible situation.) Even if both people really are fully informed, acting without undue social pressure, etc., it's probably still wrong--partly because doing so contributes to some bad societal stuff, but mostly for roughly the same reason it's wrong to freely sell yourself into slavery, or to enslave someone who's willing to be enslaved.

(This isn't to say that everyone who enters such a marriage is *blameworthy*--most of them have probably been inculpably mistaken.)

Kathen said...

Victor Reppert

Thanks for the answer. I am surprised to find myself agreeing with Crude but it does seem to me that you are suggesting here that Paul means that men should only marry women they are in love with. I can't believe that you think he meant that. If he did, then certainly that is a very new idea, indeed one that has been thoroughly misunderstood since Paul's time and is not generally accepted even now. At least I know no one who thinks that being in love is the only good reason for marriage and it is anyway hard on those people who cannot fall in love.

I think Paul meant that husbands should care for their wives and women should obey their husbands and, based on the stone carvings of married couples in Rome and the stories in Roman literature, such as the dialogue between Gorgo and Leonidas in Plutarch, I would say that is the ordinary understanding of marriage in ancient Rome. Paul taught nothing new.

What do you think of Paul's teaching that women should obey their husbands. As far as I can see there are only 3 possible views:

1. Paul was right, women should obey their husbands in Christian marriages and those who think marriage should or can be an equal partnership are wrong.

2. Paul was wrong and pretty much all Christian teaching since his day has been wrong. Marriage should or at least can be an equal partnership and the Catholic catechism, the Anglican wedding service and virtually all Christian teachers have been wrong about this up until the late 20th century.

3. Women were obliged to obey their husbands in the past but something has changed quite recently that means that Christian marriage is now, or can be now, an equal partnership.

Which view do you hold?

Crude said...

Kathen,

Thanks for the answer. I am surprised to find myself agreeing with Crude but it does seem to me that you are suggesting here that Paul means that men should only marry women they are in love with.

Unless I misread him, Victor ruled out that interpretation of his words and argued that what Paul argued was for men to love their wives (with a comparison to how God loves them, etc) - and that this was exceptional. This order of commitment and devotion, this viewing of the relationship, regardless of how it played out.

Which, in turn, means you need a fourth option in play.

Crude said...

Dustin,

Let's zero in on something here.

I certainly don't think it's laudable--it isn't laudable to swear to obey when you don't have a good reason to do so, and there's no reason for a wife (qua wife) to swear to obey her husband.

But who says they have no good reason?

Consider three cases.

1. The Christian woman who, in her research of the Gospel, Christianity, Church history, and upon honest reflection is intellectually convinced that the proper model for a relationship is one of the wife submitting to the husband. She, quite happily and willfully, finds a man who agrees with this model and will live by it, and so they get married and do exactly that.

Is she doing something wrong - nay, immoral?

2. The Christian woman who believes the above, but feels culturally pressured and badgered - against her own conscience and conviction - to marry a man who does not, in fact, uphold that model. So she marries someone who insists on treating her as an equal in the marriage. She finds the whole thing pathetic, but something she'll have to settle for.

Is she doing something wrong - nay, immoral?

3. The atheist woman who doesn't really have any concerns about Christ. But she does know one thing - it is sexually stimulating to her to be in a relationship where she is an utter submissive. Really, she is pretty well incapable of sexual satisfaction in a relationship with a man who repeatedly turns to her for consent and permission, and the last time she tried to date a man who had this attitude, she both was disgusted with him, and even felt a bit physically ill. Happily, she finds a man who just loves to be dominant, they got married, and she exists in a state of blissful slavery, alongside his other two wives, which is great because she really wasn't able to have an orgasm before all this.

Is she doing something wrong - nay, immoral?

Dustin Crummett said...

1. The Christian woman who, in her research of the Gospel, Christianity, Church history, and upon honest reflection is intellectually convinced that the proper model for a relationship is one of the wife submitting to the husband. She, quite happily and willfully, finds a man who agrees with this model and will live by it, and so they get married and do exactly that.

If a reason-giving feature of an action appears to be present, say I have an apparent reason. If a reason-giving feature actually is present, say I have a reason. You put before me a delicious looking cake, but actually you spiked the batter with chili powder. The apparent deliciousness means I apparently have reason to eat the cake, but the actual awfulness means there's no real reason to eat the cake (and in fact, there's reason not to eat the cake.) It's probably only fair to evaluate *me* relative to my apparent, rather than my real, reasons, since I'm not responsible if honest investigation leaves me with a misleading appearance of what ought to be done. (Set aside, for simplicity, cases where I'm culpable for being mistaken about my reasons.) So the thing to say is that I act rationally (by acting in accordance with my apparent reasons,) even though I made the wrong decision by acting against my real reasons.

Insofar as the woman in your example is entering the inegalitarian marriage because she inculpably believes God wants her to, I think the thing to say is that she acts immorally but not in a blameworthy way, since acts against her real moral reasons but in accordance with her apparent ones.

(There's a complication here, because unlike in the cake case, the outcomes of different actions also depend, in part, on the false beliefs--maybe, given that she lamentably believes that God wants women to submit, she'd be really unhappy in an egalitarian marriage, and so maybe her false belief winds up giving her an actual reason to enter the inegalitarian marriage. (Even though, given the option, what we should prefer is not that she enters the marriage, but that her belief changes.) If that's right, consider it covered under the "qua" clause in my original statement: what gives the reason is not her status as the man's wife, or anything that essentially goes along with being someone's wife, but her false and lamentable belief about what God wants from wives. (The same reasons would be in play, I guess, for a man who falsely believed that God wanted men to submit to women.))

2. The Christian woman who believes the above, but feels culturally pressured and badgered - against her own conscience and conviction - to marry a man who does not, in fact, uphold that model. So she marries someone who insists on treating her as an equal in the marriage. She finds the whole thing pathetic, but something she'll have to settle for.

I think what I said above also covers a case like this.

3. The atheist woman who doesn't really have any concerns about Christ. But she does know one thing - it is sexually stimulating to her to be in a relationship where she is an utter submissive. Really, she is pretty well incapable of sexual satisfaction in a relationship with a man who repeatedly turns to her for consent and permission, and the last time she tried to date a man who had this attitude, she both was disgusted with him, and even felt a bit physically ill. Happily, she finds a man who just loves to be dominant, they got married, and she exists in a state of blissful slavery, alongside his other two wives, which is great because she really wasn't able to have an orgasm before all this.

I'd probably suggest she get psychiatric help. If that doesn't work, there might be reason to enter the marriage as the best way to address a bad situation, but again the reason wouldn't be that she's his wife or anything intrinsically connected to being his wife. (Again, the same reason would be in play for a man with submissive sexual preferences.)

Crude said...

Dustin,

Insofar as the woman in your example is entering the inegalitarian marriage because she inculpably believes God wants her to, I think the thing to say is that she acts immorally but not in a blameworthy way, since acts against her real moral reasons but in accordance with her apparent ones.

What's your evidence for the claim that God wants an egalitarian marriage? And would you therefore say that A) it's possible God doesn't want that, and B) if so, people who engage in them are acting immorally, but not in a blamaeworthy way?

I'd probably suggest she get psychiatric help.

So we're clear here - you think a woman who feels submissive and prefers to embrace this is psychologically ill and should be regarded as such? So you recommend a kind of reparative therapy for women who make these sexual choices about how to live their lives and what they do with their bodies?

Dustin Crummett said...

What's your evidence for the claim that God wants an egalitarian marriage?

Here's a pass: there's no significant reason to favor inegalitarian marriages over egalitarian ones (at least under ideal conditions--again, there might be times when you have to make the best of a bad situation, but you certainly wouldn't make those sorts of tragic compromises normative for church policy) and lots of reasons to favor egalitarian ones over inegalitarian ones (inegalitarian marriages--especially when the power is systematically distributed according to a category like sex or gender which is both totally arbitrary for relevant purposes and frequently the basis of other unjust discrimination--fail to express respect for the moral equality of their members, and they, and the doctrines associated with them, likewise tend to have instrumental bad effects for both the participants and society at large.) So it's very hard to see why God would endorse a general policy of inegalitarian marriage of the sort in question. But it isn't hard at all to see how inegalitarian doctrines of marriage might have become popular without God endorsing them. You can see where this is going.

I imagine you'll dispute some of the claims, but something like that's the argument from the inside, at least.

And would you therefore say that A) it's possible God doesn't want that, and B) if so, people who engage in them are acting immorally, but not in a blamaeworthy way?

Sure. Possible (in some sense), just not plausible.

So we're clear here - you think a woman who feels submissive and prefers to embrace this is psychologically ill and should be regarded as such? So you recommend a kind of reparative therapy for women who make these sexual choices about how to live their lives and what they do with their bodies?

Not quite, but good try. :)

We could imagine your Christian women only enjoying sex within the context of a submissive relationship because they think God only wants sex to occur in that kind of relationship. There their preferences are the understandable consequence of beliefs that (by hypothesis) they arrived at rationally. So I'd hope they came to see that those beliefs were false, but obviously they aren't mentally ill.

Your atheist, though, not only has, for no apparent reason, an inability to get aroused unless she structures her life around a slave-like (your comparison) submissive relationship, she gets physically ill around men who don't try to dominate her. This at the very least strikes me as unhealthy, or a manifestation of something unhealthy. (You can have certain unhealthy or self-destructive tendencies, I think, without being mentally ill.) I don't know (having thought about it a bit) if I'd actually recommend psychiatric help, partly because in general I don't really have a high view of psychiatrists and partly because I don't have any idea whether that would be a fruitful way to address whatever her particular issue is. But I maintain my general point that it would be better to change the preference, and only if that proved impracticable think about accommodating it.

Suppose that's wrong, though, and her preferences are totally fine and good and healthy. That *still* only gives *her* a reason to enter a submissive marriage, and presumably a man with the same preferences would have the same reason. So I don't see that this does anything to support a generally inegalitarian view of marriage.

Crude said...

Dustin,

Here's a pass: there's no significant reason to favor inegalitarian marriages over egalitarian ones

Sure there are. I mean, plenty. From 'Someone's religion or even culture idealizes it' to 'some people just plain prefer it' to otherwise. Why do personal preferences or others' cultures and religions not matter?

I mean, -I- know why they don't matter, but I suppose I'm a good ol' cultural supremacist among other things. What's your view?

inegalitarian marriages--especially when the power is systematically distributed according

'Especially'? According to what? Pretend I don't accept anything you take as a given. Convince me, like I'm trying to convince you.

So it's very hard to see why God would endorse a general policy of inegalitarian marriage of the sort in question.

Not at all. You haven't even begun to make the case on doctrinal grounds, or theological grounds, or biblical grounds. The best we've had so far is a kind of 'Well because it's BAD, you see'. I don't even know what basis you're starting from where these things are found to, in fact, be bad.

Sure. Possible (in some sense), just not plausible.

Hey, you're admitting you're possibly utterly wrong about this. That's more than I usually get.

We could imagine your Christian women only enjoying sex within the context of a submissive relationship because they think God only wants sex to occur in that kind of relationship.

Or maybe they like it. Some of 'em, anyway.

Your atheist, though, not only has, for no apparent reason, an inability to get aroused unless she structures her life around a slave-like (your comparison) submissive relationship

Gay guys are not attracted to women 'for no apparent reason' and are attracted to men 'for no apparent reason'. I mean, unless you make reference to some biological reality, but then it's going to be pretty easy to come up with a similar story for just about anything.

What's the problem again?

she gets physically ill around men who don't try to dominate her.

No, she gets physically ill in a sexual context with them. Finds them a bit gross.

You know, 'Do I have permission to touch your breast?' *BARF* "No. You're behaving in a way I find disgusting. Excuse me."

But I maintain my general point that it would be better to change the preference, and only if that proved impracticable think about accommodating it.

Can I hear the reason why you think a woman should alter her sexual preferences to suit your personal views about what's right and proper and ideal? I mean, you've vaguely said you find it all very disgusting and immoral and not what proper, God-fearing people should do, I grant you - but I'm not getting the exact reasons you're spelling out for why this woman should not do what she wants to with her body.

That *still* only gives *her* a reason to enter a submissive marriage, and presumably a man with the same preferences would have the same reason. So I don't see that this does anything to support a generally inegalitarian view of marriage.

Oh, we'll get to other people soon. Right now I'm very curious as to why you're dictating what you are to this hypothetical woman.

By the way, I suppose you'd think that a man who considered his wife to be intellectually and morally better than him, and who he deferred to about all major decisions, was behaving immorally - yeah?

Dan Gillson said...

I don't know why you suddenly made this discussion so personal, Crude. It's like you already had your accusations waiting in the wings.

Crude said...

Dan,

I don't know why you suddenly made this discussion so personal, Crude. It's like you already had your accusations waiting in the wings.

Where did I make it personal? I ask that sincerely. If you're objecting to 'telling a woman what she can and can't do with her body', obviously that's not original to me - that is precisely the accusation deployed against anyone of a conservative social view, with pretty much that language.

If that language is being called out as foul ball, tell me, and we can talk about reworking it. But if it's 'well, no, you're dictating what people can do with their bodies if you're disapproving of these consensual lifestyles and sex acts - but THESE consensual lifestyles and sex acts are a whole other ballgame, it's okay to disapprove of those', I can't play by that rule.

Dustin Crummett said...

Sure there are. I mean, plenty. From 'Someone's religion or even culture idealizes it' to 'some people just plain prefer it' to otherwise. Why do personal preferences or others' cultures and religions not matter?

'Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.'

Religious and cultural beliefs idealizing wifely submission are mistaken and provide, at most, apparent reasons (except in funny cases where you get actual reasons as a result of false beliefs, which I already talked about.) The discussion about preferences is one we're already having. In any event, any reasons arising from factors like those are, as I already said in the parenthetical immediately following the one you excerpted, special reasons arising from non-ideal conditions, not reasons to institute a general policy of wifely submission or to hold it up as an ideal.

'Especially'? According to what?

"Especially" because it adds insult to injury and is likely to cause greater harm, since the people being harmed are already vulnerable and disempowered.

Not at all. You haven't even begun to make the case on doctrinal grounds, or theological grounds, or biblical grounds.

How about you provide some candidate reasons? So far what I've heard from you is a bunch of questions whose relevance I have trouble seeing and occasional snark against positions I don't hold.

The best we've had so far is a kind of 'Well because it's BAD, you see'. I don't even know what basis you're starting from where these things are found to, in fact, be bad.

I've made at least three claims:

One is that a general policy of expecting wives to submit to their husbands expresses disrespect for the moral equality of men and women. Why does expecting your moral equal to submit to you because they are of one gender and you are of the other disrespect their status as your equal (especially when members of their gender are already oppressed in other ways?) The question answers itself.

The second is that inegalitarian marriages tend to be instrumentally bad for their members. For instance, a lot of enlightening sociological work has been done on the connection between patriarchal households and domestic violence, which you're free to google. People in inegalitarian marriages have higher rates of depression. Etc.

The third is that inegalitarian marriage policies have bad social effects. Patriarchal marriage doctrines have historically been used to justify, for instance, denying women property rights, denying women voting rights, etc. Having been used to justify something bad only means so much--lots of things have been used to justify lots of things--but it's not as if the justifications were strained.

None of those reduces to "it's just BAD." (Though I do, in fact, think that appealing to the endoxa and refusing to humor your questions would be a reasonable response here. It's not like it's hard to figure out what people's problems with this are.)

Dustin Crummett said...

Hey, you're admitting you're possibly utterly wrong about this. That's more than I usually get.

I mean, I'm also possibly utterly wrong about whether George Washington was a real person. Possibility's cheap.

Gay guys are not attracted to women 'for no apparent reason' and are attracted to men 'for no apparent reason'. I mean, unless you make reference to some biological reality, but then it's going to be pretty easy to come up with a similar story for just about anything.

What's the problem again?


Having arbitrary preferences on arbitrary matters seems fine. Having an arbitrary preference for something really bad seems unfortunate. Why is being degraded bad? The question answers itself. Why is being enslaved degrading? The question answers itself.

Can I hear the reason why you think a woman should alter her sexual preferences to suit your personal views about what's right and proper and ideal?

If I had claimed as much, this would be a fair question.

Oh, we'll get to other people soon. Right now I'm very curious as to why you're dictating what you are to this hypothetical woman.

"Dictating"=/="recommending" or "suggesting." I get that you're trying over and over again to do a cute thing where you throw sort of ill-conceived liberal platitudes back at me, but since I haven't expressed those platitudes and don't accept the views underlying them (I'm okay with certain kinds of moralizing, I'm an *ethicist*) I'm underawed by your cleverness.

By the way, I suppose you'd think that a man who considered his wife to be intellectually and morally better than him, and who he deferred to about all major decisions, was behaving immorally - yeah?

Prima facie, sure, and for basically the same reasons.

Crude said...

Dustin,

'Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.'

"Shut up," he explained.

Look, Dustin - here is a problem we are running into. You say things like this:

Religious and cultural beliefs idealizing wifely submission are mistaken

And this seems to be 'Where you want the conversation to begin.'

As in, "I, Dustin, am totally right about all of this. This is not open to question. Now that we have that out of the way, let's continue this conversation."

But that's not a conversation. It's not even particularly interesting.

What's happening here... is you are being questioned. You're making statements, and I'm wondering why in the world those statements have any force. Saying 'Well I say you're wrong', means nothing. Maybe if you and I agreed about all of this to begin with, you'd have a point. But I don't agree with you.

As I said: Convince me.

So far what I've heard from you is a bunch of questions whose relevance I have trouble seeing and occasional snark against positions I don't hold.

No, I think you see the relevance just fine. But when I keep asking you to explain and defend your positions, and you keep falling back to 'Because it is WRONG', and then I have to point out that's not an explanation... really. What do you expect me to think? Hell, what do you expect YOU to think?

Are you just not used to having to explain what you believe in and justify it? It's just automatically justified in advance?

One is that a general policy of expecting wives to submit to their husbands expresses disrespect for the moral equality of men and women.

So what? And since when is there moral equality anyway? Where are you getting this from? What is the foundation here?

The second is that inegalitarian marriages tend to be instrumentally bad for their members.

So what? And what if I provided evidence that inegalitarian marriages had upsides, or egalitarian marriages more often ended in divorce - or egalitarian attitudes more often led to people not even bothering with marriage? How do you tell the difference between 'this is an unfortunate problem, and something we need to improve' and 'this can't be improved, this is an inescapable feature of the system, and thus the system is busted'?

None of those reduces to "it's just BAD."

Yes, it does. All you've done is add another layer of, 'It leads to other things that are JUST BAD.' And most of your claims about how it leads to this or that amount to 'The evidence is out there, google it.'

If I argue that the Episcopalian church's policies have coincided with rampant drops in church attendance, an upswing in premarital sex, justification of divorce and same-sex sexual behavior, and used all this as evidence that said Church was bad, you know what your response would be: you would look at me and go "So? Those are all GOOD things, except maybe the first one, and even that doesn't matter at all."

Because all I'd be saying is, 'It's just BAD.' And when you and I disagree on what's bad, well, that's a problem. It accomplishes nothing in the conversation.nd move on?

Crude said...

Possibility's cheap.

Oh, I find it valuable.

Having arbitrary preferences on arbitrary matters seems fine. Having an arbitrary preference for something really bad seems unfortunate. Why is being degraded bad? The question answers itself.

No, it really doesn't. First, because eventually we do need to hit some bedrock of why something is or isn't bad - but you don't want to share that. Second, specifically in this case, all the usual reasons for even the default 'it is bad' aren't in play. What you see as degradation, she sees as freedom. What would typically make someone feel rotten, she gets off on. She craves it and seeks it.

Many people -probably, even now, most people - think getting sodomized is degrading. Do we therefore have license to say 'Why is being sodomized bad? The question answers itself.'?

"Dictating"=/="recommending" or "suggesting."

Oh, so you think it's A-OK to simply recommend and suggest reparative therapy for gays, then? You're against force, but say... cultural and personal pressure that someone change their sexual preferences because everyone else thinks they're bad - hunky dory?

but since I haven't expressed those platitudes and don't accept the views underlying them

I'd be more than happy to have you endorse what I'm laying out here, and I think it would lead to some very interesting places, very quickly. If you violate those "progressive platitudes", I won't be shocked and upset.

So no, Dustin - these questions don't answer themselves. What's really the case is 'If you already agree that something is bad, then no further explanation is needed'. So far, it seems like you're entirely willing to sit in judgment of a woman's sexuality, and what she does with her body. You're just a bit picky about specifics, but not with the matter in general.

And that is fine. With that endorsed, we can move the conversation on: according to you, it's totally acceptable to pressure a woman about what choices she makes with her body, and even her sexuality. You can recommend therapy, you can class her as 'mentally sick'. You may not be able to force, but thankfully, there's more than one way to get that reparative therapy session paid for.

A bit bladed a response, I know. But I take it we can grant that a