Friday, November 20, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration: A Happy Day

This will be an important date in our nation's history. The Manhattan Declaration -- signed originally by 148 prominent Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Christians, and now being signed by what will almost surely be thousands more -- may well be a turning point in the public discourse about the most important moral and social issues of our day. Here are two key paragraphs in the almost 5000 word declaration:
Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.
Go HERE to read the declaration, HERE for a short summary, and HERE to sign it. If the webpage loads slowly, that's the good news, a likely indication that the website is crowded with eager signatories. Be one of them.


Kevin said...

Although I agree with the points raised about abortion and embryonic stem cell harvesting why must you continue to include same-sex unions and assisted suicide?

Abortion and medical embryonic creation and destruction are arguably non-consentual: The child in any of these cases can be reasonably assumed to not be consenting to their own destruction.

A civil government should only prohibit and regulate that which is non-consentual. Otherwise we will be legislating a particular flavour of morality which is not in the interest of society at large. We only recently were able to repeal anti-sodomy laws which applied both to hetero- and homo-sexual unions.

The obsession with same-sex unions as this great evil is part of the fertility cult hangover which the Roman Catholic church in particular is still nursing. Homosexuality is not catching. Treating it as if heterosexuals will run to homosexual unions as a viable alternative is ridiculous. This is about civil rights, the right to live ones life as you choose.

Take care Gil.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,

Dennis said...

"Homosexuality is not catching. Treating it as if heterosexuals will run to homosexual unions as a viable alternative is ridiculous. This is about civil rights, the right to live ones life as you choose"

This is straw-man argumentation in in purest form. Noone is arguing that homosexuality is "catching" or that heterosexuals will suddenly "run to homosexual unions" if so-called "homosexual marriage" is made legal. (I say so-called because part of the damage done by the homosexual movement has been to pervert language and attempt to alter what the word marriage has always meant in every society, Christian or not, throughout human history. Marriage is by definition a relationship between a man and a woman, thus it is redundant to speak of "heterosexual" marriage, and absurd to speak of "homosexual marriage"; the only variation on this has been those societies and cultures that allow a man to have multiple wives, but even in those cases, the man may only marry women, not other men).

This is not about "the right to live ones life as you choose" (there is nothing standing in the way of that anyway as it is. Homosexuals are free to live together if they choose), it is about destroying some 5000 years of consistent practice across all religions and cultures (not merely some Catholic hangup regarding fertility cults - what nonsense) with regard to the institution of marriage. It is an attempt to put homosexual relationships on a par with relationships between a man and a woman, and by doing so to demote "marriage" from being a sacred and fundamental building block of the family and human society into being a mere secular contractual relationship between any two individuals under positive law (Why homosexuals think such logic won't ultimately lead to polygamy and other plural relationships having to be legally sanctioned is another story. After all, if "marriage" is merely a contract between two people of any sex, what's the logical and legal rationale for limiting such contractual relationsips to merely two?)

Doughlas Remy said...

Dennis, I would like to address your concern that the definition of the word “marriage” will change. Then I will comment on the slippery slope argument.

First of all, the definition has already changed, both in this country and elsewhere in the world. The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Norway, and Sweden have already granted same-sex marriage (SSM) the same legal status as opposite-sex marriage. In the U.S., five states have recognized same-sex unions, classifying them as “marriage.” There is a growing list of countries that are poised to legalize SSM. These include Nepal, Portugal, Iceland, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Argentina, Venezuela, and South Africa. This is not a comprehensive list.

Secondly, the definition of marriage has been anything but stable over the centuries. You yourself acknowledged that polygamy has been considered a form of marriage in some societies. What you may not realize, however, is that SSM has been around for a very long time. It was practiced in ancient China, in the early Roman Empire, and during the early Christian era. The historian John Boswell wrote a study called “Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe” (1995). For a good portal into research on this topic, you might try Wikipedia’s entry titled “History of same-sex unions.”

Third, we shouldn’t be so troubled that a word’s definition has changed somewhat. It happens all the time. Since when did religious conservatives become so alarmed about linguistic drift? Should we return to the language of Shakespeare? Anyway, if I thought we could improve the lives of millions of people by changing the definition of the word “apple,” I’d be more than happy to go along with it. Words are not as important as people.

The so-called “slippery-slope” argument has been refuted so many times that I am surprised anyone is still resorting to it. It is considered a logical fallacy and is listed in all kinds of handbooks on logical thinking, bogus argumentation, and the like. The fallacy of the slippery slope argument is in supposing that a single step in a particular direction will inevitably lead to the whole distance being covered. This may be true in the case of stepping off a cliff, but it is not true in other life situations where choices are still available after the initial step has been taken.

Consider the following argument: “If we lower the drinking age from 21 to 18, there will only be further demands to lower it to 16, and then to 14. Before we know it, our newborns will be drinking wine instead of milk.”

If you are still unconvinced that SSM will lead to polygamy (or bestiality, or whatever), just check out some of the countries that have legalized SSM. Notice anything unusual going on? Are there significant polygamist advocacy groups forming there? You needn’t worry. It won’t happen here, either.

Nathaniel Frank offers the following reasons for supporting marriage of either the SS or OS variety:

It can provide a stable place to raise kids, if you have them; it channels the boisterous, undirected energy of young singles into unthreatening domestic bonds; it encourages individuals to take care of each other so the state won’t have to; and it helps society recognize and enforce the caretaking commitments people have made to one another.

Doughlas Remy said...

Error correction: Change “Unconvinced” to “convinced” in the third paragraph from the bottom of my comment. The sentence should say, “If you are still convinced that SSM will lead to polygamy...”


Doughlas Remy said...

Dennis, I was trying to think of some common words that have changed their meaning over time, and none came to mind right away. So I did a little research. The list is very long, but here are a few that may interest you:

“Mouse” was originally a rodent. Now it is also an input device.
“Guy” originally referred to any “person of grotesque appearance.” Then it just referred to any man. Now, it can also include women, as in “What do you guys think about this?”
“Democrat” had all the negative connotations of “demagogue” at the time of the American Revolution.
“Demagogue” originally meant “a popular leader.” Now it refers to a leader who panders to emotion and prejudice.
“Board” (verb) is used to mean, “enter an aircraft” as well as “walk on to a ship.”
“Broadcast” used to mean “to throw seeds out.”
“Kleenex” used to refer to a brand (only), and now it means “tissue.”

The definition of “marriage” has already changed in many locales, and, if present trends continue, I think we can expect to see near-universal acceptance of that change, except perhaps in places like Uganda and Saudi Arabia. The liberal Western democracies are accepting it very rapidly.

I think it is a waste of time to argue that changing the definition of “marriage” is going to be a catastrophic event, undermining Western Civilization As We Know It. Most people do not find such arguments convincing, and they’re likely to get the impression that you don’t have any sound reasons for opposing SSM.

Also, many people in our secular world are unmoved by appeals to Holy Scripture. If you are speaking only to conservative Christians, then you might succeed in stiffening their resolve, but the word has been out for a long time that the Scriptures are inconsistent and draconian, and that conservative Christians are inconsistent in their adherence to them. In other words, the credibility of scripture as a guide for public policy has suffered too much to serve the arguments against SSM.