Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Howard Dean, Theologian

The Washington Post reports this morning that Howard Dean was swayed by his religion to approve the gay civil unions bill in Vermont: Dean Says Faith Swayed Decision on Gay Unions. "From a religious point of view," Dean said, "if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

Now this ought to play well in the South. But at least he’s locked up the Unitarian vote.

Discussions - 27 Comments

Dean sure has an interesting view of religion. Maybe God shouldn’t have made murderers and pedophiles and wife-beaters as well. I mean, hey, the Lord is omniscient and omnipotent after all. And people call George Bush stupid!

Leaving aside arguments of chemical imbalances, genetic make-up or predestination, homosexuality would seem to be a matter of Free Will. It doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others, though it may infringe upon their sensibilities. Why should the law forbid gays the same opportunities that are given to the straights if no one is being hurt?

I didin’t even bother to mention Dean putting the Book of Job in the New Testament.

Maybe God shouldn’t have made murderers and pedophiles and wife-beaters as well. I mean, hey, the Lord is omniscient and omnipotent after all.

This is about as naive and uninformed a comment as I have ever encountered in this blog.

First of all, there is strong evidence to suggest that some people are genetically predisposed to homosexuality. Secondly, Mr. Williams’ question clearly ignores the concept of "free will" as it is defined by a dozen different religions, including Christianity.

And people call George Bush stupid!

Yes, they do. At least we agree on that.

What a big surprise - another ad hominem attack by Starbuck. Of course, I know that there is free will. I was, of course, satirizing Dean’s stupid comment. Actually, I agree that there is free will. That is what allows humans to rebel against God and to sin. Murderers, adulterers, liars, people who practice homosexuality, etc., are all violating what is objectively right. Even if I admit that there is a homosexual orientation, which I will concede for the purposes of discussion, that certainly doesn’t mean that it is morally licit to practice it. I may genetically predisposed to have sex with lots of women, but that doesn’t make cheating on my wife licit. I am going against nature to practice chastity and follow the higher moral law. According to Dean, God wouldn’t have created humans with a sex drive or heterosexuality if he didn’t want us to have premarital sex or commit adultery. You ignore that "free will" does not mean license to do anything - rather free will must be tempered by the moral law and the ability to choose what is right and what is good for us. Question to Southpaw - if incest between consenting adults doesn’t "hurt" anyone does that make it OK? Why should those who practice incest or polygamy not be afforded the same rights as others? Those damn repressive laws! We need to start a movement in support of those things. Oh wait, many people already are.

Starbuck, there is another great flaw in what you’ve said. You argue that since there is a genetic predisposition to engage in homosexual acts that it is implicitly unavoidable to do so and therefore morally licit. But, this inability to control who you are would seem to contradict the very idea of free will itself that you bring up. Again, I go back to the example of heterosexual sex. If I am genetically predisposed to be a heterosexual and procreate, does that give me unlimited license to do so? According to your idea, I would be predisposed to engage in pre-marital or adulterous sex, but since I have free will, I would have the choice as to whether to engage in those acts or not. Since I know that they are wrong, I am going to exercise my free will not to engage in them. That is precisely MY argument when it comes to homosexuals - that they can exercise their free will not to engage in acts that violate the moral law. Also, what if they find a gene for murder or pedophilia or rape, does that make it OK to engage in such acts, or should one exercise free will to control one’s actions and choose the right thing to do, even if it goes against one’s own nature?

Tony,

Though I may find behaviour by some people disgusting or offensive, I do not think that means I should pass laws to force others to behave by my morale guidelines. The law should be used to protect the rights of the people, not to enforce moral (or religious) agendas.

...plus, anyone who can put up with the punishment of more than one wife would probably have little fear from the law.

Well, Southpaw, I guess you’re against laws for murder because although you have a belief that something is wrong, you’re unwilling to "impose" your moral system on others. You’re also against polygamy or incest laws? That kind of moral relativism basically allows any kind of behavior. Would you say, "I personally find the genocide of Jews wrong or the crashing of planes into the World Trade Center wrong, but who am I to impose my values on others?" Indeed, we should protect the rights of Hitler and bin Laden to do these things according to what you wrote. Since I am sure that you DON’T support these things, I think developing new presuppositions and lines of logical reasoning may be in order. Believe me, I used to support moral and cultural relativism but found that it logically supported some pretty horrible things.

I’m with SouthPaw on this one. To say there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality is not to deny the possibility of any moral standards whatsoever. There are many of us who think that for an act to be evil it must deprive someone else of a right, as murder or theft clearly does. It is not obvious to me what right is violated by consensual homosexual behavior, aside, perhaps, from conservatives’ perceived "right" not to be offended.

That said, Dean’s remark was still asinine. It could be argued that some people are born with a genetic predisposition to rape or murder, but that wouldn’t make those behaviors in any way acceptable.

Tony,

I’m not quite sure I follow your leaps of logic. Murder does violate someone’s rights (the victim’s) and therefore should be prohibited by law. Homosexuality does not, in any overt manner, infringe upon the rights of anyone.


You wrote: Would you say, "I personally find the genocide of Jews wrong or the crashing of planes into the World Trade Center wrong, but who am I to impose my values on others?" Indeed, we should protect the rights of Hitler and bin Laden to do these things according to what you wrote.


I found this leap especially puzzling. First, your argument presupposes that I would consider murder and genocide a right that could belong to anyone at all, and second, the omission that the killing of someone is a deprivation of the victim’s rights. It’s disconcerting to have my previous statements spun in such a manner that they could be interpreted as passive to the murders committed by terrorists or Nazis, when they included references to neither.

What both of you ignore is the statement that,

Though I may find behavior by some people disgusting or offensive, I do not think that means I should pass laws to force others to behave by my moral guidelines.

I was simply plugging in examples whereby you might find the behavior offensive but wouldn’t regulate under the law as a guiding principle. I think that that’s a dangerous principle to hold. Hardly a leap of logic, simply applying your presuppositions to different examples. In other words, logic.

I am also astounded to think that an act is only evil when it deprives someone else of a right. Lying deprives no one of a right, adultery deprives no one of a right, incest deprives no one of a right, and yet I do not believe that these things or countless others are objectively right. I think that our Western society is endangered by the atomistic, individualistic, autonomous belief that as long as I "do no harm" then it must be morally licit.

Here’s the answer to why homosexual acts (as opposed to a homosexual nature) are wrong, since you asked.

When one looks at the purposes of sexuality in nature, one sees quite clearly that sex has a unitive function and is procreative. A woman and a man are united by the love and pleasure of a sexual act. There is also inseparably a procreative nature to sexuality in which sex creates babies. To try to separate these things violates nature’s intentions for the sexual act. But, since a woman is fertile for only a shortened period, one can engage in sex and be open to procreation as nature intended and still not create babies.

Let’s give some examples. A man and woman are married and have sex and are united in their marital bond by sexuality. Looks like we’re following nature on that one.

Incest. Sure the mother and son can procreate with the sexual act, but I would hope everyone would agree that there is no real unity in this distorted relationship.

Premarital sex. They can also procreate, but there is an absence of unity because there is no real commitment. It’s getting the milk free from the cow for selfish pleasure without having any real unity that shows a commitment. Most of these people don’t want to procreate even if they can because there’s no real commitment to the other person.

Homosexual sex. There is no possibility of procreation here and a disordered sense of unity as there doesn’t seem to be any natural reason to love sexually a person of the same sex.

Birth control. This also violates the nature of sex because it says give me all the pleasure but none of the responsibility for the procreation of new life that is inseparable from sexuality.

Masturbation. Neither unitive with another person nor is it procreative. Seems to be consequently one of the most distorted uses of sex in nature

That seems to make logical sense. Oh yeah, read Humanae Vitae or read the works of Janet Smith for a better explanation. But, if I mentioned those, I would be accused of taking a "religious" view, which of course would be horrible. Logic works too.

Perhaps my biggest qualm is the attempt to legislate morality. I think there must be other ways to instill values in a society than by abolishing all vices (presuming the vices deprive no one else of a right, of course). Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I would think it better if people of a society freely made wise, moral decisions rather than followed and obeyed out of fear from government reprisal.


Tangent subject: Are rights violated with adultery? This may be quite a strecth, but isn’t marriage viewed in some ways as a legal contract between two individuals? Would adultery be a form of breach of contract? What rights are violated by contract breach? Any future divorce lawyers, or anyone else, want to chime in on this?

By Mr. Williams’ logic, neither the elderly nor the infertile should be allowed to engage in sexual relations, since these would not be "procreative."

Looks like good ole’ Tony’s TRUE COLORS as a biggoted homophobe have shown through!!!

Speaking of asinine comments...

That said, Dean’s remark was still asinine. It could be argued that some people are born with a genetic predisposition to rape or murder, but that wouldn’t make those behaviors in any way acceptable.

So who gives you the power to decide that homosexuality is on par with rape and murder, John Boy?

Apparently you’ve missed my point. I don’t believe that "homosexuality is on par with rape and murder." However, we can’t derive that from Dean’s simplistic "God made gays, too" comment. If one wants to say that X is morally acceptable because certain people are born with a genetic disposition toward X, then one logically had better be prepared to think that a lot of other things--including rape and murder--are also morally acceptable.

My larger point is that nature is a poor guide for telling us what is right and what is wrong. That is the problem I have not only with Dean’s original comment, but with Tony Williams’ contributions as well.

That’s completely asinine. There are a lot of things that people may be genetically predisposed to be (obese, tall, ethnicity, etc...). But you are the one who has decided that being homosexual is on par with rape and murder. By your logic, tall people are on par with rapists and murders, obese people are on par with rapists and murderers, etc...

Are you being deliberately obtuse? People can’t choose the way they are genetically programmed (to be tall, to be inclined toward homosexuality, or to be inclined toward murder), but they are free to decide actions. A murderer can’t use "God made me this way" as a defense, and IF it were the case that homosexuality were wrong, neither could a gay person. However--and pay attention this time--I DON’T THINK HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG!!! On this issue I agree with Dean’s conclusion, I’m just challenging the reasoning he’s using in getting there.

And I’ll say for the last time - and pay attention this time Bucky - that if you REALLY BELIEVED that homosexuality is not wrong, you wouldn’t be challenging Dean’s conclusion. Can’t have it both ways, buddy boy.

Direct quote from my last post: On this issue I agree with Dean’s conclusion, I’m just challenging the reasoning he’s using in getting there.


I knew that you were abusive and uncivil, but now it’s clear that you’re just not smart enough to climb outside of your partisan box every now and again. How sad.

Somebody remind me of this episode the next time I’m tempted to try to engage this guy in intelligent conversation.

You’re accusuing ME of not being able to climb outside of my partisan box? HA! That’s a laugh! Looked in a mirror lately, Johnny?

Fact of the matter is that you said something stupid and I called you on it. Now, rather than debate the ISSUE AT HAND, you’d rather go the route of name calling in an effort to weasel out of the dialogue. Sad AND pathetic.

Thanks for playing.

Incidentally, the next time you’re feeling inclined to make another asinine comment, do yourself a favor and look up "conclusion" in the dictionary.

And this guy is supposed to be a teacher? How sad.

Let’s go back to Dean’s original quote:

"From a religious point of view," Dean said, "if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

Premise: God created gay people.

Conclusion: Homosexuality must not be a sin.

So, what he’s saying is, if God creates X, X must not be evil. Is this valid? Let’s see:

Premise: God created homicidal maniacs.

Conclusion: Homicide must not be a sin.

Hmm, that can’t be right. Let’s try this:

Premise: God created pedophiles.

Conclusion: Sex with young children must not be a sin.

No, that doesn’t sound right either.

Does that mean that we must conclude the opposite--that homosexuality must be a sin? (By the way, that would be called a "conclusion," chief.) No, it just means that the "God made it" argument doesn’t work, and if you want to make some moral claim about homosexuality you’d better find some other way of doing it. I happen to think that a case can be made for the moral acceptability of homosexuality, which is where I agree with Howard Dean.

This was the "issue at hand" that I was debating. You have made no effort to rebut that argument (which is generally what happens in what we call a "debate"); you have only shown your inability to understand it. And, of course, your talent for engaging in verbal abuse.

As for name-calling, which of us was it that used the term "biggoted homophobe" [sic]?

And in your so-called rebuttal, you’ve completely glossed over the point that I raised early on --- that there is STRONG EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS GENETIC. In other words, IT IS NOT A CHOICE. A rapist or murderer on the other hand, may (and I stress MAY, since there is nowhere the degree of evidence as there is with homosexual behavior) possess genetic flaws that make him WANT to rape or murder, BUT HE HAS A CHOICE AND CAN BE SWAYED BY ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS such as upbringing, etc... You have yet to try to "rebut" this argument. Perhaps you agree with me. Perhaps you are simply incapable of formulating a response. What’s more is that you apparently do not understand the meaning of the word "conclusion" as it relates to words like "proposition" or "premise."

As for name-calling, which of us was it that used the term "biggoted homophobe" [sic]?

I’ll freely admit that I said that. I’ve always called ’em like I see ’em. But see John-Boy, the difference between us is that I’m not renouncing such language in one post only to engage in it in the very next. We’ve all seen the impassioned pleas from your Buddy Peter about keeping things "civil" on this blog. But what he’s really saying is that he expects that behavior from everyone except his pals. You, with your wicked tongue, are perpetuating the very behavior that those in your organization claim to abhor. Nice example you are setting for your students.

there is STRONG EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS GENETIC. In other words, IT IS NOT A CHOICE. A rapist or murderer on the other hand, may (and I stress MAY, since there is nowhere the degree of evidence as there is with homosexual behavior) possess genetic flaws that make him WANT to rape or murder, BUT HE HAS A CHOICE AND CAN BE SWAYED BY ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS such as upbringing, etc...

Aha. Now at last we’re getting something that looks like an actual argument. My response is that there’s a difference between wanting to have sex with those of the same gender, and actually doing it. And there’s a difference between having a genetic inclination to kill, and actually doing it. Homosexuals can’t choose the inclination, but they can choose the act--how else could we explain the fact that some people choose to remain celibate, despite having inclinations toward heterosexuality or homosexuality? By the same token, there are alcoholics who choose not to drink.

We’ve all seen the impassioned pleas from your Buddy Peter about keeping things "civil" on this blog. But what he’s really saying is that he expects that behavior from everyone except his pals. You, with your wicked tongue, are perpetuating the very behavior that those in your organization claim to abhor. Nice example you are setting for your students.Well, you’ve shown that, if nothing else, you know how to push people’s buttons. You’ve succeeded in making me angry, and pulling me into the gutter with you. I hope you’re happy.

Homosexuals can’t choose the inclination, but they can choose the act

Since neither of us is - to my knowledge - homosexual, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

You’ve succeeded in making me angry, and pulling me into the gutter with you. I hope you’re happy.

Ah yes, you’re such a victim, Johnny. You didn’t misbehave on your own... I made you act like a buffoon. I guess I’m not surprised by your claims of victimization. It is the typical Conservative response.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/3357