Sex in Crisis

I have a short and snappy piece up at Crisis Magazine that discusses “gay marriage,” “woman priests,” and the New World Order. If that’s not enough to please everyone I don’t know what is.

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65 thoughts on “Sex in Crisis

  1. You write: “The dispute over abortion gave us the view that the state has no business defining human life, and the dispute over marriage has given us the same with regard to marriage. As always, liberal progress means that the state becomes unable or unwilling to recognize the most basic human realities.”

    I would argue, in fact, that the current state has become so incompetent and incoherent at recognizing life or marriage that it has disqualified itself for the role of protecting them. The current state, in other words, is illegitimate, and the less we allow it to control, the better.

    I think we’ve come to the point where we need to engage in organized civil disobedience. Including on the topics of marriage and life.

    • I usually try to avoid the issue of legitimacy by saying “well, official rhetoric doesn’t really capture what the public order is all about, a lot else is there at work if you look at what actually goes on.” That’s getting less and less true though, which makes it hard to know what to do. The normal rule is that you obey Caesar unless he tells you do something wrong and forbidden, but how do you apply that when “Caesar” is a huge bureaucratic apparatus actively engaged in an attempt to transform human life and nature?

    • America is a government “of the people”, so if it engages in something we think is grossly evil (which is pretty much everything it does lately), we should disown it. That’s where I’m finally moving to, out of sheer exasperation.

      I don’t even know where to start, though, other than to petition the Church to stop requiring civil marriage licenses for religious ceremonies. If nothing else, it would deprive the individual states of the licensing income they receive, which would hit them where it hurts.

      The Muslims in Germany have already managed to do this, by the way. They are exempt from civil marriage laws there, and they achieved this by simply refusing until the state gave up.

      • LOL That’s true. They can always just print more. I still don’t understand why we have to pay taxes at all, if we can just conjure money out of thin air.

      • Taxes create demand for dollars and retire some of the dollars from circulation. This allows for more central planning of the economy as a whole.

    • That quoted sentence makes no sense. The state does “define human life”, it just doesn’t do it in the way you want it to.

      • Interesting, I had never actually read the opinion…the section you are quoting from is here, and is followed by:

        When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer. [410 U.S. 113, 160]

        It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth. This was the belief of the Stoics. 56 It appears to be the predominant, though not the unanimous, attitude of the Jewish faith. 57 It may be taken to represent also the position of a large segment of the Protestant community, insofar as that can be ascertained; organized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family.

        The opinion also has some language to the effect that it is “personhood” (meaning, the status of having the legal protection of a person) is a more apropos term than “start of life”.

        So maybe you are right and the state is unwilling to define either of those, because there is actually broad disagreement among the population about how they should be defined. Unless you believe that the state should enforce the standards of a religious minority on everyone else (and I guess there is a good chance that you do) then I’m not sure how the court could have done better.

      • onecertain:
        Unless you believe that the state should enforce the standards of a religious minority on everyone else

        You are begging the question of moral relativism.

      • Gee, how wrong is somebody’s flat claim that the state does define human life, in light of the Supreme Court explicitly saying in Roe v. Wade “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins”?

        Pretty freaking wrong, I’d say.

        See, here’s where a person with an iota of grace would either A) admit that he chimed in without thinking, or at least B) shut up.

        What he wouldn’t do is try to casually play it off ….

      • What part of “maybe you are right” didn’t you understand? I could drop the maybe if you like.

        @zippy: no question is being begged. Moral relativism has nothing to do with it, the point is political. Let’s say you are a moral absolutist, and that you are correct! You somehow have access to the real moral law that everybody should be following. Unfortunately a great many of your fellow citizens disagree with you.

        Given that, do you think it is the job of the Supreme Court to (a) agree with you rather than the majority and (b) enforce that morality on the country as a whole?

        Keep in mind that if you give the government the power of (b), there is no guarantee that they it will always adhere to property (a).

      • You shouldn’t take the history etc. seriously that appears in Supreme Court opinions in support of the view they like. More generally, you shouldn’t take official histories of issues like abortion seriously. Like they say, “everybody lies about sex” and everything related to sex. See, e.g., http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/09/002-academic-integrity-betrayed-5.

        On the broader question, a legal system can’t dodge ultimate issues because it has to decide concrete questions–e.g., is it OK for a doctor to kill a baby just before it’s born because he’s determined that mom’s likely to get seriously upset if she has to deal with the kid (the Court’s answer was yes). Certainly the Court doesn’t dodge those issues when it wants to decide them.

      • Indeed, if the differences in morality in different parts of society are irreconcilable and unignorable, then eventually the legal/political system has to rule on them, inevitably to the disgust of some or all parties. Or people can take the secession option as another commenter here suggested.

        The US already had one episode where moral differences were papered over with compromises that eventually failed to satisfy, and the result was secession and Civil War. Although some opponents of abortion have demonstrated willingness to use violence in pursuit of their views, I don’t think abortion even approaches slavery as an issue capable of dividing the country — people don’t actually care about it as much as they claim to, and unlike slavery there are no economic stakes.

      • [I]no question is being begged. Moral relativism has nothing to do with it, the point is political. Let’s say you are a moral absolutist, and that you are correct! You somehow have access to the real moral law that everybody should be following. Unfortunately a great many of your fellow citizens disagree with you.[/I]

        It is exactly the opposite of what you are saying. I, personally, don’t want to force my opinion into the liberals, I understand that they wish to live in the hell of gomorra and they cannot be convinced otherwise except by the grace of God. But it is not the liberals who are being oppressed here, we conservatives have to live in your disgusting immoral society for decades now, and we have had enough.

        In my opinion our differences are irreconcilable and that forcing one vision into the other group is not a stable solution. So the solution is very simple and obvious: Let’s make a clean split.

        Reserve an area for conservatives. We all move there. And you liberals and use drugs, kill the young and elderly, open satanistic temples, etc, etc, do whatever you want in your Gomorra. I just don’t want to be in the same country as you will be doing that.

        Oh, this would be heaven! But the liberal yoke just won’t let us get free. You are like a attached bloodsucking vermin, which sucks us of our blood (aka brainwashes our children, taxes our money, etc, etc), and you won’t let us leave!

        Please, Sir, let my people GO!!!

        The nasty thing is that liberalism has already dominated everywhere in the west … I don’t see where to go. Everywhere in the west there are only liberal hellholes.

      • Yes, since you show stark evidence that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll graciously admit that *maybe* you’re right…

        …why, maybe you’ve gone to more trouble learning my side’s position than I myself have, not that that’s saying much…

        …come to think of it, maybe for a person whose opinions are worth treating seriously, the time to look at and think about the key points of um, ROE v. WADE would be long, long before trying to step into and dominate an argument about um, ABORTION…

        Indeed there’s no “maybe”.

      • Slavery was never an issue that many people were willing to die for until it become useful for certain powerful people to use it for that purpose. The same is possible for abortion, which is far more evil than slavery. I agree with you that it won’t happen. There doesn’t appear to be any possibility that sacrificing yourself for to counter elite opinion will help you gain status. The underlying cause of the civil war was that there were multiple elites.

      • Please, Sir, let my people GO!!!

        Buh-bye!

        You are like a attached bloodsucking vermin, which sucks us of our blood

        Hm…given how totally dominant liberalism is (in your view), it would seem more accurate to call you the parasite on liberal society, rather than the inverse. For instance, this internet you are using is the product of modernism, and largely developed in liberal hellholes like Cambridge MA and Palo Alto CA. Yet you are using it to attack liberalism.

        You people want all the benefits of modernity and liberalism (electricity, freedom of speech, indoor plumbing) without its costs. Reminds me not so much of parasites as of spoiled teenagers angrily attacking their parents while living under their roof.

      • Hm…given how totally dominant liberalism is (in your view), it would seem more accurate to call you the parasite on liberal society, rather than the inverse.

        Liberals are by definition parasites because they have almost no children on average, so they depend on trying to convert the children of those that do … aka non-liberals.

        For instance, this internet you are using is the product of modernism, and largely developed in liberal hellholes like Cambridge MA and Palo Alto CA. Yet you are using it to attack liberalism.

        You people want all the benefits of modernity and liberalism (electricity, freedom of speech, indoor plumbing) without its costs. Reminds me not so much of parasites as of spoiled teenagers angrily attacking their parents while living under their roof.

        That’s ridiculous, you cannot claim ownership on technology.

        If it was like that: No problem, you can have electricity and the internet, but don’t you dare trying to use ships, roads, writing, the wheel, etc, etc, all those things that came before liberalism appeared in the 18th century.

        About freedom of speech, well, this guy that that was fined for saying anti-islam comments in Denmark would say otherwise: http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/024231.html

        Also I bet that the filmmaker arrested by Obama for the Muhammed film would say otherwise…

        Anyway, since I don’t see any chance of conservatives getting a non-liberal spot of land, I am starting to hope that islamists win. At least they believe in a morality similar to ours. I would prefer a islamist society to our current liberal hell hole. I am longing for the day that a islamist shoots the last liberal in the head.

      • “I am longing for the day that a islamist shoots the last liberal in the head.”

        A very ant-Christian sentiment.

      • A very ant-Christian sentiment.

        Yes, and indeed I am starting to lose faith. I am tired of endless discussions with liberals trying to explain obvious and natural things such as “morality is good”, “justice is good”, “good and evil do exist and are not relative”, “why homossexuality is bad”, etc, etc, etc. Nothing is acomplished, I dont think I ever convinced even 1 liberal and I see conservative people around me start to get each time more liberal. They repeat the lies from the liberal newspapers: “Anything should be allowed between two consenting adults”, “My daughter I wouldn’t like to be a prostitute, but if the daughter of the neighbor wants, why not? Legalize it!”, “Illegal prostitution/drugs/whatever is horrible, people die all the time doing unsafe prostitution/drugs/whatever. Let’s legalize it and they will do it safer and more often!”, etc, etc. It disgusts me.

        Lady Gaga wanted to make a show in Korea and korean evangelicals made praying sessions to stop this. The majority of the population shunned them as “ignorant and backwards”. Lady Gaga made her concert, with her disgusting tour of satanistic propaganda. Next she wanted to go to Indonesia. Islamists said: Come and we will bomb your concert. So she cancelled the concert.

        That’s why we are loosing. Our strategy doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked for the last 4 decades and it won’t work for the next 4. For me it is coming time to admit it: Maybe the islamists are the ones right about how things should be done. At least they win. I haven’t seen a reactionary victory in the west since I was born!

        Conservative politicians are massacrated in the media when they say something. And that’s here in Poland, which is the most conservative country in the west. If here it is like this, and we depend on a tiny majority in the parliament to avoid catastrofe, what real chance do we have of winning against liberalism in the long run?

        Elsewhere things are even worse. In my native Brazil liberals have a new law to punish anyone that say anything philosofically or otherwise against homossexuality with 3+ years in jail! Yes, sure, free speech!? Furthermore in my native country, Brazil, I am racially discriminated by the government which imposes “racial quotas” in universities and government jobs and there is even the holiday of “black counciousness” (counciousness that they should hate white people)

        So that’s it. I am tired of seeing conservatives loose for all of my 27 years of life. I’m young and already bitter and tired of our society and consider it hopeless, imoral, decadent and disgusting. For every person we convert there comes MTV and reconverts 10 more of our young to the evil side of liberalism.

        I am also tired that christians never really come to defend us. When did I ever see a christian attack the racial quotas? When did I ever see a christian outraged at how much white people suffer in South Africa? Not rare is to see christians atacking conservative politicians for being too “insensitive” on the other hand. What a joke…

        So that’s it. Sad it was that my forefathers shot the islamists out of the iberian peninsula. If they knew how things would be now, they would have joined the mahometans instead. But maybe it is not too late. And it is not like christianism has any chance of winning anyway. Liberals will also be happy, since they love muslims.

      • To Filipe: It’s a mistake to look to the Muslims. There’s no substitute for sanctity, and there’s no substitute for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Those things are in short supply among them, especially those who adopt terroristic methods.

        You’re right that among us things are very bad and getting worse fast, and the reaction of Christians and for that matter everyone in the West has been disgraceful. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, we deserve what we get, and right now we’re getting it.

        Still, disaster has its uses. Think of martyrdoms and the Crucifixion. A big benefit of the scandals regarding clerical pederasty has been that people have dropped a lot of the happy talk about the state of the Church and began to think and even talk about what’s real. And there’s been an additional change in the same direction here in the US as a result of the actions of the Obama administration, and his re-election after a campaign in which he emphasized social and moral issues.

  2. Your comparison of marriage and friendship was brilliant, by the way. I’ve not seen such an illuminating analogy on the subject before, so I give credit to whomever thought it up.

  3. I honestly believe that the Libertarian position of getting the state entirely out of the marriage business, defined as the granting of marriage licenses and tax benefits, would be a net benefit to our society.

    The wise king would of course be interested in promoting and protecting traditional marriage for the collective good of society.

    But our foolish king is actively hostile to traditional marriage. If the government did not recognize the existence of marriage at all then at least it would be up to individual persons and communities to define marriage (most of whom would define it in the traditional way); a second benefit would be that judges would not try to reengineer family arrangements after a divorce according to state norms to the benefit of selected favorite groups… because divorce would not exist at the governmental level. Men and women would simply have contract law (or not) to govern marriages, but there would be no divorce dividend for women and this would reduce rates of divorce drastically.

    • Should government get out of the business of enforcing contracts altogether? Or is it just when a particular contract is a “marriage” that government should not enforce it? If so, doesn’t that mean that government is in the business of determining what is and isn’t marriage and how its particulars should or shouldn’t be enforced? If not, what does “get government out of the marriage business” even mean?

      • The libertarian reply (which I don’t adhere to) is that the government should enforce all contracts, including contracts the two (or two hundred) signatories decide, for their own irrelevant and personal reasons, to call marriage contracts. This solution would require that there be an actual contract, rather than the fuzzy bundle of mutual obligations the “marriage contract” consists of now. Maybe the Catholic Church would come up with a fill-in-the-blanks version for Catholic marriages (“you can only get married in a Catholic Church if you use our marriage contract . . .”) and etc. What would be eliminated is the asymmetrical treatment of marriage and other contracts. “Get government out of the marriage business” isn’t dishonest, really. Under the proposal, government does not need to take a position on which contracts are marriage and which are not, so it is out of the defining marriage business. Or, if marriage contracts need to be interpreted differently than other contracts, it could adopt a nominalist stance: if the contract says it is a marriage contract, then it is.

      • Bill:
        This solution would require that there be an actual contract, rather than the fuzzy bundle of mutual obligations the “marriage contract” consists of now.

        What that seems to require is that government should only enforce those terms of a contract which are explicit and written, without importing any meaning from extra-textual tradition, culture, implicit understandings, etc. In other words it assumes textual positivism: sola contract, if you will.

        Like every requirement that authoritative meaning proceed from the explicit text and only the explicit text, this would empty the text of all meaning.

      • Think about it this way:

        If the nominalist solution applies to the term “marriage”, then why can’t it apply to all the other terms in the contract? The words mean just what the parties say they mean, nothing more, nothing less. Therefore there is no way to adjudicate between one party’s nominalist assertions and the other party’s nominalist assertions.

        Or perhaps the government asserts that the nominalist solution only applies to the terms it chooses to apply it to; “marriage”, for instance. In that case the government is definitely in the marriage business, through a positive assertion of its meaninglessness.

      • If the nominalist solution applies to the term “marriage”, then why can’t it apply to all the other terms in the contract?

        I see what you did there, Zippy. That’s cute.

        Look I’m not saying, as I clearly did not say, what the government should, i.e., ideally do. Of course the wise king takes an interest in promoting and favoring real marriage. All I am saying is that our current king is (or soon will be) in the habit of recognizing as “marriage” things that are clearly not marriage. Our current foolish king is in the habit, and has been for more than a generation, of refusing to enforce the natural law concerning marriage with no-fault divorce laws. In other words, not only is the government currently in the business of marriage, but pretends to know more about it and its just dissolution than the church, than common sense, and often more than the signatory parties to prenuptial agreements, which it routinely ignores in dividing the spoils of divorce.

        Yes, getting out of “the business” would be an improvement, not an ideal.

      • Steve:
        In order to get out of the marriage business though the State either has to get out of the business of enforcing contracts altogether (anarchy) or it has to be in the business of defining marriage so that it knows what prima facie contracts to stay out of.

        At my place it was suggested that a couple getting married in church could enter into an explicit side contract stating that the prima facie contract of marriage taking place in a church in front of witnesses is unenforceable. In order for the state to “get out of the marriage business” it has to recognize when a prima facie contract is marriage and impute an implicit side contract of unenforceability to the parties. That is to say, in order to “get out of the marriage business” the state has to officially recognize when a prima facie contract is or is not a marriage: it has to be in the business of defining marriage.

      • A couple, or a horde of people for that matter, could, without defining or using the word marriage, create a legal contract of living together which governs the behavior of the parties, their responsibilities (if any) to the other(s), how potential offspring shall be cared for, and how assets, living arrangements, and children will doled out in the case of a breach or dissolution of the contract.

        Contracts govern objective behavior. Objective behavior is not all that is wrong with marriage today, but it is a good bit of it.

      • Zippy:

        I don’t see your point. There is no textual positivism in what I said. Contracts say what the contracting parties meant them to say. Text, associated utterances, cultural context, and etc are all potentially relevant to figuring out what that is. If the contracting parties come from a discourse community in which “marriage” means “prune sandwich” and there is no evidence that they mean something else for purposes of the contract, then that is what the word means.

        If two men sign a marriage contract, it is crystal clear from that fact that they don’t mean by marriage what you and I do. It’s also clear, absent evidence to the contrary, that they mean something similar, similar at least in its civil effects. What exactly they mean is an adjudicator’s task to determine.

        Language is inherently nominalist. So, in a manner of speaking, nominalism must apply to every term in the contract.

      • I don’t think that official agnosticism as to the meaning of marriage constitutes a permanent and irrevocable agnosticism and/or hostility to the existence of universals in general, and certainly need not go so far as to muddy the concrete terms of a very real written contract.

        Of course, in a court of law we are largely at the mercy of the judge. No duh!

        The reality today is that you are at the mercy of not only of a judge’s potentially whimsical interperpretation of a written (or unwritten) contract, but also at the mercy of his (or more likely her) interpretation of “marriage” and “family life”–a level of discretion which today can (and does) simply override even a written contract. I think taking that discretion out, i.e., forcing judges to judge solely on the basis of a written contract between two (or more, alas) adults is preferable to the wider and more deleterious discretion. The former discretion, well you’re just out of luck trying to eliminate that because sovereignty has this annoying habit of being sovereignty.

        A Biblical and traditional marriage can be formally defined on paper and inked by consenting adults, even if it is called a “civil partnership”, or some sort of Bureaucratese name. Today, the state’s interest in “marriage” is an abstraction empowers family law judges to tear up even that in the interest of abstract (and very dubious) “justice”, which amounts to (on average) rewarding wives with goodies for divorcing their husbands.

        Take that discretion away, and you preserve and defend marriage far more than you harm it… even if someone somewhere manages to “marry” her cat.

      • Steve Nicoloso:
        and certainly need not go so far as to muddy the concrete terms of a very real written contract.

        What about unwritten contracts or vaguely written contracts (that is, all of them)? Does arbitrary judicial nominalism with respect to some terms muddy the waters of unwritten or vaguely written contracts?

      • Zippy since you have posted 2 (and maybe 1/2) posts on your blog on the subject, and since I recently used the phrase “government should get out of the marriage business”, I must assume you are talking to me, and folks like me. But I cannot understand a word out of your mouth. It could be you just like playing dumb and privately smirk while your perceived enemies scratch their heads because they are so humorously dense… I really don’t know.

        You absolutely have mischaracterized what I said, branded it as (eeevil) nominalism, and managed to make it mean the exact opposite of what I said. But you are smarter than me, so I guess that makes it okay.

        I will make one last try to be clear: In America we have this thing called no-fault divorce. As is widely known, once you have no-fault divorce, almost all divorces become no-fault by default. The net effect of that is that “no-fault” divorce is really unilateral divorce. You and I certainly agree that this is a bad thing. You and I certainly agree that the very existence of “no-fault divorce” is an oxymoron and a catastrophically bad policy implemented by the fools who run our country.

        I don’t really know the statistics but if we apply a little imagination we can probably agree to assume that the vast majority of these no-fault, i.e., unilateral, divorces involve the breach of contract by one or both parties to marriage. No-fault divorce essentially tears up the contract, whether verbal or even (in many cases) written (prenups). Why does “no-fault divorce” exist at all? Because divorce existed previously and “no-fault” was deemed by our cultural masters to an improvement of some sort.

        By why does divorce, speaking only as a state declaration, exist at all? Because the state is in the “marriage business”. A state declares you are divorced because (and ONLY because) it first declared you once to be married.

        My taking the “state out of the marriage business”, what I am arguing is that the state simply does not make it its business to recognize the personal status of married or divorced. Of course, the government should do this and promote traditional marriage in pursuit of the common good. But the idiots in charge today (and for the foreseeable future) are using this power almost exclusively against the common good.

        Gay marriage is just the last fly to land on the festering maggot-ridden pile of dog shit that has become Western marriage.

        So if the state no longer makes it its business (tho’, I re-re-reiterate, an ideal state would) to declare whether persons are married or divorced, then when there is a dispute in the distribution of properties, care of children, etc., the state can no longer say this is a marriage and it is the state’s business to see that “justice”, which as you know amounts in the large aggregate to giving bored wives future goodies at their ex-husband’s expense, is done, whilst actively ignoring the (usually) verbal or (sometimes) written contract made between husband and wife. On the contrary, the state will have no choice but to evaluate the termination of the contract by the explicit rules spelled out in the contract. And the vast majority of such contracts will probably be written according to fairly (if not entirely) traditional norms of marriage. Because most people are fairly traditional when it comes to important things in life.

        Since the net beneficiaries of divorce (which again, we surely agree, is so statistically dominated by no-fault that we can practically ignore disputed divorces) are women, who seek divorce at twice the rate of men, leveling the playing field here–taking the government off the scale in favor of women–reduces the actual incidence of divorce.

        Essentially what I am arguing is using the liberal position, agree and amplify, against the liberal cause.

      • Steve:
        We definitely agree on the atrocious state of things, so that’s not where disagreement lies. Since my abstract arguments obviously aren’t connecting with you though, maybe a practical consideration will.

        (I’m certainly not singling you out: significant numbers of traditional Christians all over the ‘sphere are starting to make the argument that the government should get out of the marriage business. There have been eighty or so comments on two posts at my blog about it alone, and you aren’t participating there).

        However we characterize the change that is being proposed, it is clearly a proposal for the liberal state to make a radical change in its approach to marriage that we as traditional conservatives would support. This radical change is proposed to entail taking a nominalist/agnostic stand on marriage.

        Another time the liberal state took a nominalist/agnostic stand on such a core issue was in Roe vs Wade. Mr Kalb quotes the studied agnosticism in the opinion in the comments above.

        How has that worked out for us so far? Is it really something we should be advocating?

      • Gosh, I really hate nested comments. What a mess.

        At any rate, Zippy, you see a similarity between what we’re proposing and abortion. I think this is highly inaccurate. The closest analogy would be with homeschooling.

        In both cases, we decided that the government has proven itself to not only be incompetent, but truly evil and set on destroying our families, and have withdrawn our participation accordingly. I’m not even saying that we get rid of civil marriage, but that Christians should refuse — as a group, both in protest and for survival — to engage in it. I am advocating for separatism — the mildest form of civil disobedience.

        Just as we’ve removed our children from public abuse, we should remove our marriages from public abuse.

        And, as I already noted, American contract law is dissolving down into farce anyway, so I fail to see why any of us should be turning to the state for the enforcement of any contract. They only want control of our marriages so that they can rush our divorces.

      • Vanessa:
        You keep reframing this to be about what we should do, not about what we advocate that the government do. I am talking about what we should advocate for the government to do, not about what we should do ourselves.

      • Another similarity is that homeschooling was originally a liberal (hippy) idea that conservatives co-opted. Not everything they think of is bad. They wanted to bail on the school system because it was “too conservative”, just as they wanted to bail on the marital system because it was “too conservative”.

        Well, that works both ways, as the Amish have proved for us. We don’t actually have any need for the federal government to manage our marriages for us, just as we don’t have any need for the federal government to manage our children for us. We are, you see, an alternative state; a Christian state.

        This is not, as you previously suggested, anarchy. Rather it is a slow and quiet revolution through non-participation. A sort of educational and marital (and increasingly financial, through bartering) boycott.

      • Vanessa:
        OK, stick with the reframe then.

        There are all sorts of things individuals and families can and should do. I’m not talking about that. Until it sinks in that I’m not talking about that you are just talking at me, not talking to me.

      • You keep reframing this to be about what we should do, not about what we advocate that the government do.

        The government doesn’t actively need to do anything. If we just refuse to play along, it’ll eventually give up. Other than practicing Christians, hardly anyone gets married anymore, so if we stop doing it, then the laws will simply fall into disuse. There’s not much point regulating something nobody’s doing.

      • Vanessa:
        The government doesn’t actively need to do anything.

        If you aren’t advocating for the government to change anything that it is doing, then you aren’t advocating for the government to “get out of the marriage business”. Because it is in the marriage business now.

      • Zippy, I think you are simply talking over all of our heads.

        You asked specifically “If so, doesn’t that mean that government is in the business of determining what is and isn’t marriage and how its particulars should or shouldn’t be enforced?” and that is what I’m responding to. No, the federal government does not need to be in that business because we can create an alternative state that handles that for us, and tell the .gov to stuff it.

        The government is an ass.

      • If you aren’t advocating for the government to change anything that it is doing

        Oh, I’d love to have the government change in all sorts of ways! LOL Obviously, if I were the God King for the day, I’d immediately set to work reforming our family laws. So yes, I’m advocating that.

        I just don’t think it’ll happen, so I’m concentrating on civil disobedience as a practical matter that we could organize without having to put it to a popular vote.

      • Vanessa:
        I think you are simply talking over all of our heads.

        I have no idea why this is so difficult or why it would be over anyone’s head.

        There are two unrelated questions.

        The first is “what changes should conservative Christians be advocating in government policy?” That is the question I have been addressing. Specifically I have been addressing advocacy that the government should “get out of the marriage business”.

        The second is “what should we do in our own lives”. I haven’t been addressing that question at all.

      • The first is “what changes should conservative Christians be advocating in government policy?” That is the question I have been addressing.

        I addressed that by saying we should get rid of the license raj. It’s the only change that has any hope of passing, as many liberals would agree to it.

        Other than that, detach and escape before it all falls down on our heads.

      • OK. Personally I doubt that getting rid of licensing and leaving everything else as-is would have a good effect. Most likely it would just increase the government’s latitude to interfere as it sees fit by making the situation more vague and nonexplicit.

      • Exactly. It’s very effective. Either they would have to pretend not to notice that nobody was marrying anymore, or they’d have to extend marital law to cover all cohabiting couples and cause a nation-wide riot.

      • Most contracts don’t require a license. The idea that the liberal administrative state would suddenly have less latitude in regulating marriage just because a license isn’t required is frankly a little precious.

        I’ve heard the “what could it hurt?” and await the inevitable echo, “how were we supposed to know?”

      • Most contracts don’t require a license, but they do require a written and legally-signed contract. If we only engage in church ceremonies and do not report our wedding to the authorities, what are they going to do? Raid the churches? Break into our houses to search our desks? Go door-to-door and check for extra toothbrushes? They already do that sort of thing with the child support raj, and it’s highly ineffective.

        It’s much more likely that they would simply return to common law statutes that would hit all of the couples who have escaped the marital insanity by simply not formally marrying at all. If they did that, at least it might finally spur the populace out of apathy. As it is, the non-marrying people are crafting marital law through the popular vote. Let’s take the madness back to their homes and see how they like it. They’d go ballistic.

        Which is why the most likely outcome is that they’d simply leave us alone.

      • Well, here’s the deal:

        If they require the contract, only the married suffer. If they don’t require the contract, everybody cohabiting suffers. Spread the suffering, I say. It’s the reactionary way. LOL

        Right now, everyone can torture conservatives because they aren’t in the system. And if they said that our religious documents hold up as contracts, then all of the Hindus, Amish, and Muslims would get dragged into the fight, which would also be very gratuitous.

      • Vanessa:
        If they don’t require the [written] contract, everybody cohabiting suffers.

        No they don’t. You really don’t understand how contracts work. The great majority of contracts are unwritten, and the state gets involved when the parties get into a dispute or when any other law comes into play because of circumstances or contract terms.

        The idea that removing the requirement for a license will automatically make marriage legally equivalent to cohabitation is just flat wrong. If the liberal state wants to make them legally equivalent it will make them legally equivalent; but that has nothing to do with whether or not a license or specific written form is used.

      • Exactly. It’s very effective. Either they would have to pretend not to notice that nobody was marrying anymore, or they’d have to extend marital law to cover all cohabiting couples and cause a nation-wide riot.

        In Brazil they extended marital law to cover all cohabiting heterosexual couples and there was no riot. No-one cared much. They call it “stable union” or something like that. No license is required, after some years of living together the couple automatically falls in the laws for “stable unions”

  4. That is to say, in order to “get out of the marriage business” the state has to officially recognize when a prima facie contract is or is not a marriage: it has to be in the business of defining marriage.

    I don’t know if this was clear at all, but not only is the state already defining marriage, but it’s redefining marriage as we speak.

    In CA, there is already legislation to allow for 3 people to be a child’s parent. Other countries are allowing recognition of multiple partner arrangements, and many states have already approved “gay marriage” to be legal marriage. The idea that we should still be relying on the State to dictate what is and is not a marriage continues to devolve into a farce.

  5. This radical change is proposed to entail taking a nominalist/agnostic stand on marriage.

    Agnosticism is better than outright hostility. In fact, it provides an important point of exit from the larger, and dying society. You can say that the government does not force us to accept its definition of “marriage”, well that’s true, up and until one of our own decides that what she signed up for is not what she signed up for.

    If a traditionalist spouse decides that she (or, we must allow, he) is tired of being a traditionalist and decides to walk out on a marriage, i.e., break the verbal (and possibly written) contract she (or he) made with the aggrieved spouse, there is no power today that can ultimately prevent it. On the contrary, if this person is female, she likely will be temporally rewarded. (Perhaps she will be punished with loneliness and cats in this life. Perhaps not.) The market forces, pressed mightily by the power of local magistrates, are in her favor. They will as a matter of course declare that contract void and distribute the spoils according to their own almost uniformly perverse notions of justice. There is only one reason that a magistrate would have such a power: the State, and her duly appointed burghermeisters, are in the “marriage business”.

    While it is natural (and good and right) for the state to be in such a business, it is not necessary by natural law. Marriage pre-exists any state. When the powers of the state are turned clearly against the common good, as they are in the vast majority of family law cases, their exercise is patently unjust. If a change in the positive law, i.e., further liberalizing of marriage, a matter we would not support given an ideal government, just so happens to ameliorate the evil, then that policy is prudent.

    • It’s basically rules for radicals applied against radicals. In fact, most the great raft of libertarian ideas actually make prudent policy positions at the present time. They would have the net effect of at least not subsidizing evil and social pathology. Refusing to subsidize these would lead to a saner world, tho’ far from perfect.

  6. I hope that I was clear that I believe that every marriage in an officially marriage-agnostic state ought to be implemented with a written nuptial agreement, spelling out clearly the vows that each spouse takes. Churches would be right in proposing legal language in conformance to their own teaching on the matter.

  7. Another time the liberal state took a nominalist/agnostic stand on such a core issue was in Roe vs Wade.

    The officially agnostic stance on abortion is certainly tragic. Good governments defend innocent life, just as good governments promote traditional marriage.

    But abortion agnosticism is certainly better than the non-agnostic government deciding on your behalf that you must kill your children.

    And that is the correct analogy with regard to our government’s current non-agnostic involvement with marriage. You are ostensibly free to make whatever promises you like and live however you like. But if and when either one of those marriage partners decides to break those promises, we will step in and help her (or, possibly, him) to not only get away scott free, but likely take cash and prizes. That is not only not a defense of traditional marriage, it is open hostility.

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