It seems Aaron's brief post on prop 8 generated more dialogue than any previous post (see "the slope gets slipperier..."). The thread, in fact, has become so long as to become prohibitive to following the debate. Lots of important observations were made across a variety of digressions. I'm glad, for one, that most everyone agrees that true morality can't be coerced. At the same time, law is inescapably moral: it says what you can and cannot do. (What, then, should be the small-government position on drugs, prostitution, etc?) This is one of the more interesting theoretical issues we've confronted. "The paradox of law and liberty" is, by definition, a "slippery slope." Everyone, including libertarians, draws a line of protectionism somewhere. But leave all this for a moment. And leave the specific arguments concerning prop 8, too...
The other more theoretical issue that caught my attention, as the "history/academic" guy, was the notion that Christians should, in general, oppose gay marriage in order to retain God's mercy. (And, since I have contributor privileges, I get to subject you all to my musings here on the main page.) This kind of Toynbeean/Spenglerian perspective on the structured rise and fall of nations presupposes (1) that we know all the facts and variables, can see everything that is going on in history and in the present and make comparative measurements of a nation's righteousness accordingly; (2) that Christians can know what and why God does what he does; and (3) that, for the Christian, worldly-temporal success is somehow decisive--evidence of God's favor.
A classic example of this kind of Christian moral positivism (whatever is, is right; "might makes right") is the destruction of the Spanish Armada. According to this legend, God routed the Armada with a storm to keep England, and hence the future America, Protestant. Of course, God didn't care when the Spaniards became Catholics because he likes English people better. Another example: I once heard a pastor say that Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans because of the sin in that city--never mind that the districts where much of the vice goes on were not destroyed. (And why is it always with the weather that we know it's God? Is it because weather still has some aura of incomprehensibility?)
Christians that think this way strike me like the person who reads the book of Job and then debates which friend was more right. Kind of misses the point... And how about the tower of Siloam: Jesus' followers asked him why innocent people were crushed by a falling tower. Jesus didn't answer this question; all he said was, "nobody is innocent--you had all better repent cause a tower might fall on you too." And how about Jeremiah: God tells him his life is basically going to stink all the way through it. Just stick it out.
Even if some Biblical passage tells you what God did in a certain instance and why, it does not follow that you understand God's ways and what He would do in a similar circumstance later.
To quote Sir Karl Popper, "The theory that God reveals Himself and His judgement in history is indistinguishable from the theory that worldly success is the ultimate judge and justification of our actions." Is God on the side of Islam today?
(Again, these thoughts do not specifically pertain to most of the pragmatic or ideological arguments for or against Gay marriage, just to the "God's blessing/cursing" argument. Sorry if it's a bit more abstract than the usual fare, but tell us what you think anyway...)
The whole world is watching our clown show
2 hours ago