A Warehouse Full of Guile

The contradictions of the secularist mindset have been exposed numerous times, but it is a rare opportunity when this happens while millions of people staring at it.

Put another way, the rhetoric of tolerance and mutual respect as preached by these intoleristas is a sham, a farce, a lie, a trick, a subterfuge, a whopper — it turns out we have a lot of words for this activity — a fabrication, a deceit, a mendacity, an inaccuracy, and a warehouse full of guile.

They constantly practice their form of the bait and switch, and every once in a while they get caught. And every once in a great while, they get caught with half the country looking on. When this happens, their attempts to explain themselves usually attain to the level of “Uh, aliens kidnapped me. What year is it?”

After my first post on L’affaire Robertson, one of my commenters raised a point which I then passed on to my Twitter feed, to wit, “Why does A&E get to refuse to do business with someone based on their views on sex, but bakers and photographers can’t?” This got retweeted a bunch, and this is how I think the question came swimming into the ken of folks who usually don’t have to try to answer these things. But millions are looking at this tolerance face plant . . . let’s have a try.

So one responded, “Easy, the baker, and photo people are retail, and must accept anyone.” So I replied, “Ah, got it. So Chick Fil A could refuse to buy from a wholesaler run by homosexuals, for that reason?”

Someone else argued that A&E had the right to choose who would represent them. I then replied, “So then, a restaurant owner can decline to hire homosexual waiters because he doesn’t want to be represented by them?” Before posting this, I went back to get the exact wording of the tweet I was responding to, but it had been taken down. I don’t remember whose tweet it was either, but I think it must have been brave, brave Sir Robin.

These people are in a bad jam. They want to pretend they are creating a society where all ideas are equal, but they are now caught with the necessity of saying that some ideas are more equal than others, those ideas turning out (conveniently) to be theirs. But this makes them sound like something out of Animal Farm, and not in a good way either. What to do?

So another commenter fell back on the old reliable of vituperation. “You are just a bigot preacher that preaches a message of hatred and division . . . ”

So keep your eyes fixed on this one thing. The mantra of secularism is that we can all believe, say and do things that others of us find reprehensible, but in the public square, the genius of secularism is that they have found a way for all of us to function with an admirable neutrality. The Christian photographer may personally disapprove of homosexual behavior but because he has stepped out into the marketplace with that camera of his for hire, he must set that personal conviction aside. And everyone must do this, or so the theory goes. But A&E didn’t do this. Robertson said something on his own time, and he was handed his hat about as quickly as Katherine Sebellius hasn’t been. A&E said that they had been ardent supporters of the whole LGBT thing ever since forever, darling.

I don’t want to get distracted from my main point here, but I would like to enquire what deep hatreds are making those execs leave off the Q. It is LGBTQ, people. But perhaps this is an indication of A&E acting in self-defense? They had been broadcasting Duck Dynasty for too long, and the sexual normativity was starting to spread? One day they noticed that Q was gone . . . They had to act fast.

So here is the bottom line. Every society must have standards, and must have a god of those standards. This is precisely what secularism has, because it has to, and a good part of the reason for the success of this scam has been their ability to pretend that in this society, their society, this inexorable law need not be true. But it is true, as millions of people can easily see for themselves. Want to prove me wrong? Then treat A&E like an evangelical baker or photographer.

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263 comments on “A Warehouse Full of Guile

  1. Hold up – googling “vituperation”….
    ah ah got it. Excellent post sir!

  2. Doug, I’m a bit mystified by this post since I already answered this question in the thread below.  The difference is that A&E does not offer a reality show to anyone who walks in off the street and wants one, unlike the baker who normally sells baked goods to anyone who walks in off the street and wants one.  A&E has a very few highly competitive, highly coveted television slots, unlike the baker, who has to sell lots and lots of cakes in order to stay in business.  In answer to your new questions, yes, Chick Fil A could refuse to buy from a gay wholesaler because anti-discrimination laws only apply to consumers, not to commercial transactions between business people.  And no, a restaurant couldn’t say that they don’t want gay (or black or Christian or female) waiters representing them, because the business that they’re in — serving meals to customers — has no relationship to the race, creed or color of the server, unlike A&E, which is in a different business altogether in which those things are relevant.  I don’t think the issue here is that secularists don’t have answers for these questions; I think the issue is that as an article of faith, you believe secularists can’t have answers for these questions, and so the inconvenient fact that we actually do have answers doesn’t concern you.

  3. Such an awesome and on point post Doug! Wonderful. Thank you :)

  4. “Why does A&E get to refuse to do business with someone based on their views on sex, but bakers and photographers can’t?”
    Phil isn’t a customer.  He’s an employee, and the supposedly conservative position is that employers can fire their employees without cause, and they can certainly fire them if they impact their bottom line.
    That being said, I’m doubting that many blacks or gays watch Duck Dynasty. 
    I do wonder if he’d be getting such support if he lumped Jews and heterosexual divorcees in the same group as terrorists instead of the fundies’ favorite scapegoat (The Gays).

  5. Eric the Red, it’s so cute to watch you drawing arbitrary lines willy-nilly with that crayon in your fist.

  6. Eric, I’d like to see that Waiter/waitress thing tried. . . just once.  What you say is an interesting theory, but businesses haven’t REALLY been able to operate that way for sometime.  That would be a quicker lawsuit than Phil could win.  Your scenario was much more libertarian than secular, and yes, there is a difference.  

  7. They hired a Christian to be a Christian on a reality t.v. show and then suspended him because he acted like a Christian.  How does that make any sense to anyone?  Furthermore, if non-Christians don’t believe that the Bible is true and God keeps his promises, what do they care what we think and believe?  He believes homosexuality is a sin.  All Christians believe that.  Did A&E not know this?
    The suspension is an act of intolerance, a power play, an “I’m going to take my tv show home, because you didn’t say what I wanted you to say…”  It is Animal Farm.  We can be bullies and we will be bullies.  Not surprising; It is a tempting sin.  Only through grace will A &E or any of us do differently.
     

  8. Wonderful post, sir.  Just one picky detail to fix.  A&E isn’t being merely anti-”q”; they’re certainly leaving out more letters than that.  I believe the most current cocktail of alphabet people is LGBTQQIAA.  L and G often fight for first place, and simply also bicker over the order in which the  double Q and double A should come.  (For the record, Q=questioning and queer, A=ally or allied, and asexual, I=inter-sexed).  

  9. Gregory, it’s not arbitrary if I can articulate a rationale for it.  Care to actually engage the rationale I offered?  I do, by the way, agree that it was stupid of A&E to give a reality show to Christian rednecks and then be surprised when they acted like Christian rednecks.  But that’s a separate issue from whether A&E can be distinguished from the bakery, which it can.

  10. I was in a discussion on another site concerning if Robertson should file federal or state criminal charges for civil rights violations. Thoughts?

  11. Eric,
    Would you not distinguish between the baker selling goods out of the store and the baker catering a public event? I mean, do you honestly think that the bakers who refused to cater gay weddings refuse to cater gay customers in general? As if they ask every customer that walks into the shop what their “sexual orientation” happened to be before serving them? Of course not. As a baker, I would not ask any of my walk-in customers what their opinion on racism is, but if the Illinois Nazi’s come calling on me to cater their next event, would you fault me for refusing their business? (Blues Brothers reference, I hate Illinois Nazis)

  12. I agree with Greg Dickison that Eric the Red’s replies are arbitrary and are basically like a moving target.  Eric, you’re all over place, and you show very little coherence or consistency in your positions.  But alas, your true feelings came out, which was not surprising: “…it was stupid of A&E to give a reality show to Christian rednecks and then be surprised when they acted like Christian rednecks.”  This type of comment is standard fare from most of the hosts at MSNBC.  Deep down, you think you’re superior (morally and intellectually) to those “Christian rednecks” as well as anyone else who may dare to support them.  Why don’t you just have the courage to admit it and stop dancing around the real arguments that Doug is making?  Admit it, you’ll feel better. 

  13. Eric, I’m not sure I am following your rationale.  You stated that A&E have a few, highly coveted slots, one which they sought out and knowingly hired a Christian to play himself.  He did so.  And he was fired for it.  He was fired for being himself which is why they hired him.  His Christianity was relevant , yes, and presumably it was relevant during the hiring process as well.  I agree they can fire him if they choose to do so, but if an openly unrepentant gay man was hired to be himself on a reality tv show and was then fired because he said he thought there should be same sex marriage…what would the reaction from the “tolerant” LGBT community be?

  14. Eric, back in my first post I said that I believe that A&E has the right to hire or fire how they please (within the terms of whatever contract there was). They have a right to control who represents them. But not in your world. In your world, the government decides whether or not your concerns about “testimony” are appropriate. Thus, a Christian restaurant owner is not permitted to care if his serving staff are flamers. He doesn’t like being represented by that,  but you have determined that his concern doesn’t matter. But A&E — surprise! — well, their concerns are well-grounded and reasonable.

  15. And no, a restaurant couldn’t say that they don’t want gay (or black or Christian or female) waiters representing them, because the business that they’re in — serving meals to customers — has no relationship to the race, creed or color of the server, unlike A&E, which is in a different business altogether in which those things are relevant.

    Both restaurants and A&E care about how they represent themselves to customers. Therefore race, creed, color, ect. are relevant to both.

  16. “Never try to teach a pig to sing- it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” – Robert A. Heinlein

    Not that I’m saying liberals are pigs, or anything.

  17. Keith, yes, there is a difference between a baker selling from a shop and a baker catering events, but that’s not the issue here.  Whatever services a baker offers can’t be based on the sexual orientation of the customer or the event.  Dan, I called them Christian rednecks because they call themselves Christian rednecks; I haven’t said, nor do I believe, that all Christians are rednecks.  Carole, I think A&E acted badly and stupidly; they knew what they were getting when they gave the ducks a reality show and should not now complain that they got what they bargained for.  However, that’s not what we’re talking about; we’re talking about whether A&E is distinguishable from the bakery, and it is.  Doug, and Christopher, restaurants are not in the religion business; they are in the food business.  However, the larger point hovering above that is that if you accept at all the premise of anti-discrimination laws — that discrimination against certain groups was sufficiently wide spread to require a government solution — then you can’t allow employers to defeat the law simply by saying they don’t want to be represented by minorities.  Otherwise, anyone who wants to discriminate simply says they don’t want to be represented by minorities, and we’re right back where we started from.

  18. Eric,
     
    Have you considered the possibilities that you are both spiritually blind and not that bright?
    Your arguments are pathetic.

  19. “Doug, and Christopher, restaurants are not in the religion business; they are in the food business.”
    What about a Christian who opens a restaurant as a way to glorify God (as a way to serve others, earn money so as to be able to help others, enjoy his creative gifts that God has given him etc)? Is he not allowed to say he is both in the restaurant business and the religious business? Who makes that judgement call and why?
     

  20. Brave, brave Sir Robin!

  21. Ahhh, ’tis a beautiful thing to see us fly-over country, unsophisticated, redneck, hicks getting plumb fed up!  And we’re not particularly concerned that we’re considered contemptible by the elites, cultural Marxists, and other self-styled arbiters of social proprieties, along with racist, homophobic, narrow-minded, etc.  Who cares!  We’re numb to it!  It’s looking like enough is finally getting to be enough! 

  22. Eric, I agree I lost the plot there for a moment, but I do think the point is significant in their argument. Why suddenly do they not want to be represented by Christians?  The family is making them a lot of money, so why now?  Did they become too Christian? 
    However, your argument that Restaurant servers only serve food isn’t reasonable.  All business owners need people who represent their company.  That is vital to the success. That is the point of advertising. No server just serves food. Why have uniforms or any standard of dress.  If a competent middle aged, chubby white woman  wants to bar-tend at my hip young black nightclub do I have to give her the job because if I don’ I  am discriminating against age, race and weight?  Where does this end?…and if we are to have these laws, the more important point is they can’t be enforced randomly or so OBVIOUSLY on one view’s behalf.  And they clearly are enforced for the one view; you must see that the mere fact of calling something politically “correct” presumes that the other position is “incorrect”.  It is not, and has never been, about tolerating alternative worldviews.  It has been and continues to be, one view insisting that it is correct and the other views  better be quiet and like it, or a loud, bullying mob is headed your way.

  23. Eric the red said: “Keith, yes, there is a difference between a baker selling from a shop and a baker catering events, but that’s not the issue here.  Whatever services a baker offers can’t be based on the sexual orientation of the customer or the event.”

    So… wait. You’re saying that there is a difference in the services, but it doesn’t make a difference in terms of the customers.

           ..

    Since the current argument is that the difference in service should make a difference in terms of the customer,  why bother admitting that there is a difference in the service at all?
     

  24. A loud, bullying mob, with government backing.

  25. Well, it looks like the spark has been lit at The National Review as well: <a href=”http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/366943/re-education-camp-mark-steyn”>http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/366943/re-education-camp-mark-steyn</a&gt;.
    Bravo for Steyn.
     
     

  26. Eric, How is what A&E different from what you stated, “Anyone who wants to discriminate  simply says  they don’t want to be represented by minorities.” Substitute Christian. A&E simply said they don’t want to be represented by Christians.  Fine.  We all accept that, now will you accept when other business owners don’t want to be represented by  homosexuals?

  27. Carole, A&E did not say it doesn’t want to be represented by Christians, and not all Christians agree with papa duck’s views on homosexuality; there are Christians who are pro gay.  What A&E said is that they don’t want to be represented by someone who says things that offend A&E’s base.  Going back to the analogy of the restaurant owner, restaurants are in the business of selling food, so Christian restaurant owners will not be exempted from laws against anti-gay discrimination.  However, if one of the gay waiters that they hire makes anti-Christian comments, they can absolutely fire him for that reason.  Not because he’s gay, but because he said something that offends their base, which is a different issue.  And that’s what happened here.  A&E didn’t suspend him for being a Christian, or say they don’t want to be represented by Christians; they suspended him for saying something offensive to their base.  I’m aware of a Catholic-run business that hired an atheist office manager; they can’t discriminate based on religion in their hiring.  They fired him when he put up a poster in his office showing the pope sodomizing a horse.  He sued.  He lost.  He should have lost.  Status is protected; saying offensive things isn’t.

  28. Josh, what if a white supremacist, who happens to be in the food business, decides he doesn’t want to be represented by blacks so he won’t hire any; should he be given an exemption from anti-discrimination laws?  I’ll go back to what I said earlier:  If you accept the premise of those laws, you can’t start carving out exceptions, or eventually anyone who wants to discriminate will simply demand a carve-out.  If you take the principled position that anti-discrimination laws should be repealed and businesses should be free to practice whatever discrimination they like, fine, that’s a principled position to take, even though I don’t agree with it.  But what is not a principled position to take, nor workable in practice, is to say that in general minorities shouldn’t be discriminated against and we’ll give conscience exemptions to any employer who wants to discriminate.

  29. “They hired a Christian to be a Christian on a reality t.v. show and then suspended him because he acted like a Christian. How does that make any sense to anyone?”……………………I know this is just a rhetorical question not looking for an answer, but in case anyone is confused, “reality” t.v. shows are not reality. They are carefully designed and edited to fit a certain niche and produce a certain product. AMC didn’t create Duck Dynasty so the Robertson’s could just “be themselves” or “be a Christian” (generically), they’ve been carefully streamlining the content to fit the exact message they wanted from the very beginning. Robertson got in trouble because his public persona stepped outside of the niche that AMC would prefer he was viewed as.

  30. “As a baker, I would not ask any of my walk-in customers what their opinion on racism is, but if the Illinois Nazi’s come calling on me to cater their next event, would you fault me for refusing their business?”………………………..couldn’t an option be, applaud you for refusing their business AND being willing to face whatever legal consequences you had to in response? I am quite fond of the people who are actually willing to face consequences for their beliefs (like the very rare church that refuses tax exemption) as opposed to the people who spend all their time and energy arguing against the consequences. As Eric sort of implied earlier, we spend all sorts of time loving the benefits we get from aligning ourselves with Caesar, then act surprised when we find out that Caesar isn’t a good Lord.

  31. Okay, so if my employee, off work, says something that “offends my “base,” I am free to fire him?  Is my “base” allowed to be the Bible? Or are only some people allowed “bases?”
    And I am assuming that when people call themselves Christian, they are Bible believing Christians.  I don’t know what to call a person who professes to be Christian and does not use the Bible as their standard, but that IS another subject.

  32. A&E is in the business of entertaining.  Clearly the Ducks have been doing that well.  According to your argument, A&E are the ones who have made an exception.  Yes, the Ducks do their jobs well, but A&E doesn’t like their religious beliefs are, so they fired them… How is it, that this exception is allowable but not others?
    And the further important point is, that for years, Gay lobbyists have been arguing for tolerance.  Is this suspension an act of tolerance? Or is is hypocritical?

  33. Eric – I have been pointing out the differences between Baker Bob and A&E (actually, McDonalds, Nike, Intel, etc.) for the last three weeks, in comments to posts related to the “generic, mass produced, wedding cake” fiasco, and the opposition view insists that they are indeed the same, in every way.  Maybe you should all get together and decided what the party line really is.  Whichever they are, the same or different, it would be nice to see some consistency, and not just the week-minded habit of grabbing whichever position best suits the crisis of the moment.  Your position is the better by the way, I don’t mistake Baker Bob for the others very often, but for some reason – maybe a poor lens prescription – most seem unable to tell the difference, unless, like during the A&E firestorm, they want to.

  34. Carole, yes, people get fired all the time for stuff they put on twitter and facebook.  The law forbids employers to discriminate based on an employee’s status, such as race, sexual orientation or gender.  That doesn’t mean employers aren’t allowed to control conduct that impacts their bottom line.  If your base is Christian, and your employee calls up the local radio talk show to say something offensive about Christians, you’re free to tell him you no longer need his services.  And if he’s gay, that won’t help him keep his job or win a lawsuit.  Which is why some employers forbid all discussion about religion and politics at all.

  35. I’m tackling just the baker side of the question, as this has been settled in the courts. (I would not be surprised if A&E lost a lawsuit in this situation.) Imagine a baker says, “I will sell cakes to anyone, but I will only cater events for non-sinners”. Then she won’t be catering any events. But maybe she says she will only cater events for non-fornicators. Well now, this is an interesting case, because fornicators are not a protected class. She might prevail in a lawsuit over this. But when she decides to only refuse to cater weddings for gay fornicators, but agrees to cater weddings for hetero fornicators, now we have an interesting situation. This doesn’t look like discrimination based on religious values. This looks like discrimination that is targeted against a protected class, with religious values painted on top like a whitewash. So show me that the baker never catered a wedding for a divorced person, and that she never catered a wedding for someone who had premarital sex. Then we have an interesting discussion about freedom of religion.

  36. Great, so we agree, this should be the legal right  for all.  I’m good with that.  Now to address the tolerance issue.  Do you agree that we have heard a lot of tolerance talk from the Gay activist community…but when it comes down to it, they, like most people want everyone to think the way that they do.  They do not want tolerance for all varying points of view.  They want their view to be the dominant, controlling, government backed view.  This suspension is in fact, like the wise Pastor said, “A tolerance face-plant.”

  37. Someone in the blogosphere said that A&E may have hoped that duck Dynasty was conceived as a program with the goal of mocking Redneck Christians. Now they have made a martyr. Bye Bye A & E ratings.

  38. The “brave Sir Robin” comment cracked me up. Yes the tolerance brigade will always sound hypocritical but that’s only because their default position is so. But we must remember as Christians that for all of our fowl fellowship of Chickens and Ducks, we must remember the dove first. 

  39. You say, “Every society must have a god of these standards.”  Can this god be secular progressivism?  I would liek to know more about the ‘gods’ of this world.  N. T. Wright has spoken about mammon, etc.  What about gods more particular to a nation or civilization?  It was quite apparent in Rome that emporer worship eventually bevcame the god that had to be disobeyed.

  40. Carole, nobody likes being insulted, so of course gays and lesbians are going to respond in anger when someone says bad things about them.  So do Christians.  That’s human nature.  And of course everyone thinks their own views are correct and should be used to make policy; that’s human nature too.  Which is why, quite candidly, I’m inclined to take outrage with  a grain of salt no matter which end of the spectrum it’s coming from.

  41. I would like to return to Eric’s comments about Uganda’s draconian new anti-sodomy legislation, enacted with generous help from some high profile American Christian evangelists.  I think there is a connection between Ugandan gays facing death or life imprisonment and American gays using the courts to as a remedy for discrimination.  It is difficult to understand why American-born white Christians thought they were doing the Lord’s work in meddling in the affairs of an African nation for the purpose of enacting sufficiently harsh penalties for gay sex.   One is tempted to believe that these evangelical leaders, realizing the unlikelihood of persuading their fellow Americans to sentence gays to death or life imprisonment, chose to take their crusade to greener pastures.   Somewhere it must be okay to persecute gays, they said to themselves.  Add to that the fact that some Dominionist Christian leaders have stated that in their theocratic Utopia, gays would be executed or exiled.  American gays have been ridiculed and censured for taking their wedding cake and flower grievances to the courts.    They have been accused of spite and general hatefulness for availing themselves of legal protections against discrimination.  The spirit has often been:  hissy-fitting gays are bullying honest Christian vendors by making demanding their rights when any decent person would just go somewhere else for their cake.   If I were gay, I think I would look at American Christian intervention in Uganda with the gravest alarm.  I think I might reflect that some Christians of this ilk would like to kill me or exile me or imprison me for life.  And I would realize that my survival could depend on strengthening every law that establishes my civil rights.  If it is as silly as my right to a wedding cake (in those states that protect orientation), then so be it.  If it means continually reminding people that hostility to gays can lead to appalling human rights abuses, then bring it on.  I don’t think A&E did the right thing.  I think that anyone should be free to express moral disapproval of homosexual behavior, just as I am free to say I don’t think highly of gambling, adultery, or imposing on third world nations the kind of theocracy one wants to have at home.  But it is naive not to expect gays to push back when the stakes for them are potentially so high and the consequences of Christian hostility so deadly.

  42. Doug, and Christopher, restaurants are not in the religion business; they are in the food business.  However, the larger point hovering above that is that if you accept at all the premise of anti-discrimination laws — that discrimination against certain groups was sufficiently wide spread to require a government solution — then you can’t allow employers to defeat the law simply by saying they don’t want to be represented by minorities.

    Discrimination against certain groups is still widespread. I’m not optimistic about government solutions – past or present. On another note are christian business owners supposed to be more capitalistic than christian?

  43. Good thoughts, sir.
     Mr. Doug, do you knowingly advertise for apple, or is it a link error? On the sidebar, with your sharing buttons, you have an apple icon that simply links to apple.com/iPhone
    I found that kind of strange.

  44. Jeffrey, the link goes to an app for this blog. Among other things, you get notifications when a new post goes up, when I remember, which I usually do.

  45. Jill,
    Do you have a link by the Ugandan government stating their rationale for the law so we can get both sides of the story? Perhaps I have bad information, but some have said that they are trying to prevent the deaths of innocent children because of the belief of Ugandan homosexuals that having sex with a child will cure them of aids.
     
     

  46. ok but Eric, if  a group of people responds angrily when group B says they believe something differently, and if that group A of people want policy to be based on what they solely believe and no other beliefs have the same rights, then their mantra should not be we want tolerance for all.  That is the point.  When one group shouts down anyone who does not agree with them, it is difficult to believe that they value all ideas…

  47. Carole, you hit the nail on the head.  The Left does not want – nor practice – tolerance for all ideas or tolerance for all people.  They only tolerate those who believe exactly how they believe.  And if anyone strays off that reservation, then that person is simply classified as a racist, bigot, homophobe, ignoramus, etc.  The Left has no need to defend their lack of tolerance; they only need to demagogue the issue and label the opposition.  But it’s fascinating how they do this in the name of their “tolerance” and “diversity”.  As I’ve said in prior comments, it demonstrates both incoherence and intellectual laziness.

  48. Pastor Wilson,
    Since the Patriarch Robertson spoke up for the Lord, it seems the beard on your caricature has grown longer. I must say it suits it; perhaps you should adopt it as well (:
     
     
     

  49. Eric: “And no, a restaurant couldn’t say that they don’t want gay (or black or Christian or female) waiters representing them, because the business that they’re in — serving meals to customers — has no relationship to the race, creed or color of the server…”  [paragraph]
    Aaron: “Eric, I’d like to see that Waiter/waitress thing tried. . . just once.”  [paragraph]
     
    Hooters tried saying men need not apply for waitstaff positions. Dude sued, settled:
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/04/21/texas-man-settles-discrimination-lawsuit-against-hooters-for-not-hiring-male/

  50. “Josh, what if a white supremacist, who happens to be in the food business, decides he doesn’t want to be represented by blacks so he won’t hire any; should he be given an exemption from anti-discrimination laws? ”
    I’d personally prefer to know who the racists are so I can avoid shopping there.  I assume that blacks would prefer to know who the racists are so they can choose not to work there (or rather, know that the reason they weren’t employed was because the employer was an idiot) and instead work in the shop which is now doing great business because all those who hate racism are choosing to do business there.
    Ultimately what’s needed is something that will change the hearts of racists so that they are no longer racist.  Human laws aren’t going to do that but the gospel will.
     
     

  51. When the homosexual demagogues like GLAAD acquire a new target, someone must be sacrificed.  This is required in order to assert their power and establish fear.  Homosexuals are now a government protected class and they have discovered force using the weapons of the State.  Their unspoken goal is to instill fear, i.e. homophobia, while at the same time condemning homophobia.  A&E got the message loud and clear.  They demonstrated appropriate homophobia and quickly chose submission.  Phil Robertson is expected to do the same if he wishes to keep his livelihood, but what happens if Phil does not assume his role as homophobe?  I suspect he would still be sacrificed, if only in the media-shaped kangaroo court of opinion.  An increasing brigade of “church ladies” is fond of being manipulated by such guilt, and will even try to spread shame to other Christians.  Perhaps a masculine backlash is forming.  Hopefully it won’t be just a frustrated and angry reaction, but instead a return to Christian principle and solid moral foundations.  It seems like God is shaking things up so that what cannot be shaken will remain.

  52. Yes, I assumed that’s what the link was supposed to do, but it just goes to the main iPhone website, not to anything related to your work. To clarify, it is the little apple icon between the twitter and goodreads icon, right below your appstore icon. It does this both on my phone and laptop.
     

  53. Well, Carole, maybe the problem is that tolerance means different things to different people.  I am tolerant of anti-gay views to the extent that I think the First Amendment protects them, and people who are anti-gay have just as much right to speak as people who are pro-gay.  I do not, however, think that anti-gay views should be successful in winning elections or setting public policy.  And I also think that if someone says something others find offensive, they have the right to publicize it; that’s free speech too.

  54. Eric said,

    Josh, what if a white supremacist, who happens to be in the food business, decides he doesn’t want to be represented by blacks so he won’t hire any; should he be given an exemption from anti-discrimination laws?

    No, let’s say he does hire black people, as long as they paint their face gray. He does hire white people and yellow people and red people, as long as they all paint their face gray. Because after all, this guy embraces diversity.

  55. Well, Eric, maybe the problem is that tolerance means different things to different people.  I am tolerant of anti-God views to the extent that I think the First Amendment protects them, and people who are anti-God have just as much right to speak as people who are pro-God.  I do not, however, think that anti-God views should be successful in winning elections or setting public policy.  And I also think that if someone says something others find offensive, they have the right to publicize it; that’s free speech too.

  56. To define my terms, by “anti-God” I mean that which promotes policies contrary to the Christian moral framework, as given by the Christian God, YHWH.

  57. Is that fair?

  58. This is what happens when business tries to accommodate everybody’s religious beliefs rather than just run a business:
     
    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/23/22021111-uk-retailer-ms-faces-boycott-after-muslim-worker-refused-to-sell-alcohol?lite

  59. Wesley, I would agree that tolerance takes in what you’ve just articulated; you are entitled to promote your beliefs just as I’m entitled to promote mine, and in a democracy, neither of us is going to get what we want all the time.  I would quibble with your definition of anti-God, however; by that definition there are an awful lot of very devoted religious people who are anti-God.

  60. What would be your suggestion to quell such conflicts, Eric?

  61. Eric,
     
    You said “people who are anti-gay have just as much right…” Do you truly believe that there are things called rights, or is that just a turn of phrase for you? The reason that I ask is because if you truly believe in “rights”,  then you of all people must know that rights cannot just proceed from consensus. Absent a document articulating rights, do those rights still exist. If so, where do rights come from. (If not, they are not rights.)

  62. Matthias wrote:

    “No, let’s say he does hire black people, as long as they paint their face gray. He does hire white people and yellow people and red people, as long as they all paint their face gray. Because after all, this guy embraces diversity. ”

    Matthias’ analogy hits closest to the mark, which is probably why Eric skipped it completely.  Even though Eric the Red has had the benefit of many refutations of his neutrality fallacy, he still rationalizes to himself that a godless form of business is the nirvana of neutrality.  The problem is that gray is a nice neutral color.  Eric’s “tolerance” amounts to painting everything gray and calling it diversity and neutrality.  Eric’s neutrality looks more like forced neuterality.  Eric the Gray.
                                                                                                                                                     
    Go read Eric’s article above about the boycotts in the UK.  Note the outrage that a Muslim might not serve alcohol, or that a Jew might not serve pork, or a Christian might not work on a Sunday.  This is the face of Eric’s secularism.  Note the absence of tolerance and diversity.

  63. Katecho, the reason I skipped Matthias’ analogy is that it is too silly to deserve a response, and the fact that you’re actually treating it seriously says far more about you than it does about either the analogy or me.  However, since you’re treating it seriously, the answer is that the purpose of a restaurant is to serve food, and nothing about serving food requires painting one’s face.  Nothing about serving food requires that servers be of a particular race either, which is why anti-discrimination laws don’t allow employers to take that into account, since the certain result would be that servers of one race would end up getting treated differently than servers of another race.

  64. Matthias, I would settle such conflicts by what I’ve articulated all along:  Don’t take a job that your conscience won’t allow you to do, and don’t expect your employer to re-write your job description to accommodate your religion.  If you are a Muslim, don’t go to work at a store where you have to sell alcohol.  If you’re a Muslim or an orthodox Jew, don’t take a job at a deli where you’ll have to handle ham.  If you’re a Christian, don’t take a job where you might have to decorate a cake for a same sex wedding.  These conflicts mostly disappear if people don’t assume that their religious beliefs give them special rights.

  65. RFB, there are multiple sources for rights, depending on the right and the context.  In this case, we’re talking about free speech, so the source of the right is the First Amendment.

  66. Eric, you continue to return to the line that the purpose of a server is to serve food… This really is a problem.  I do not go to my favorite chicken place for the chicken.  I go there because I know the CEO as well as the particular franchise owner embraces the same Biblical values that I do.  I know that my child is encouraged there not only by the music playing but by the way the staff look and behave.  Our educational choices are encouraged, welcomed and applauded.  This is an environment that I want my children to see and be in.  It is a popular venue for all my friends.  If an openly, unrepentant homosexual worked there, that atmosphere would be compromised. The feigned accent, physical mannerisms etc that belie this lifestyle are offensive. Even if he were hired, by your own outline, if he were to  support gay marriage,(for just one example) which we Christians find offensive, he could be fired. 
     

  67. Eric,
     
    Are you saying that absent the articulation, documentation and/or government recognition thereof that we really do not have rights? Do we have a right “free speech” if the First Amendment did not exist?

  68. Archbishop Chaput (Philly Archdiocese) said:
     
    “Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God.”
    There is no neutrality in the arena of world views. It really is a zero sum game.

  69. Eric, in the example of the UK retailer and the muslim clerk, you put the responsibility on the employee, or prospective employee, to not apply for a job that would require them to do something that would go against their faith. And there is some wisdom in that. I would never work at a strip club, no matter how much I needed a job. However, why can’t this responsibility cut both ways. Why can’t the employer refuse to hire people who would either not represent their values OR would create a crisis of conscience for the employee. In the case of the UK retailer, they would just not hire muslims or employees who would not feel comfortable selling alcohol. This attitude would go a long way toward ending the outrage train that we are on.

  70. The paint part was obviously metaphorical, I had hoped. It does require a measure of self-reflection, however

    Matthias, I would settle such conflicts by what I’ve articulated all along:  Don’t take a job that your conscience won’t allow you to do, and don’t expect your employer to re-write your job description to accommodate your religion.

    Should a baker have been held by his conscience simply because he may be taken advantage of? In a grocery store, people under 21 are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages, and have to get someone else to ring up the alcohol. “That’s the law, though,” you might say. Then maybe that’s the way to do it. Make the discrimination legal. I personally think it would be worthwhile to require everyone with an opinion to substantiate it objectively before they’re allowed to state it.

    Nothing about serving food requires that servers be of a particular race either…

    Which is interesting for you to say in this instance, given what Marriage is, what it requires.

    since the certain result would be that servers of one race would end up getting treated differently than servers of another race.

    At the DMV, people of a certain age are treated differently than people of another age. But that’s lawful. People of one orientation are routinely being treated differently than others. A father with an orientation toward his daughter is treated as criminal (by many, though not all)! NAMBLA exists. Yours is a pipe dream, man.

  71. RFB, I think you’re looking at this from the wrong angle.  The question is not do I have the right to speak.  The question is by what right may anyone stop me.  In this country, that question is codified in the First Amendment, and not every country recognizes it (in fact most countries don’t), but I think that’s the proper analysis.  It’s the same issue with burglars:  it’s not so much that you have the right to your stuff as that they have no right to take it.

  72. Carole, and DavidR, your comments take us right back to an earlier point, which is that the problem with having employers be able to say “I have values, and my customers have values,” is that you’ve just gutted anti-discrimination laws, since any racist bigot will then be able to say that his values don’t include hiring blacks.   Or women,  Or Jews.  Or Christians.  If you want to take the principled position that we shouldn’t have any anti-discrimination laws at all, and businesses should be able to discriminate to their hearts’ content, fine, but if you believe that discrimination is enough of a problem to require a government solution, then making exceptions simply prevents the law from having any practical effect.

  73. Matthias, you’re talking about distinctions that actually have a rational basis.  There are good, solid reasons not to allow five year olds to drive Mac trucks; there are no such good, solid reasons not to allow blacks to serve food.  There are good, solid reasons not to allow five year olds to handle alcohol, or fathers to have sex with your daughters.  You seem to be stuck with an either/or concept in which just because one distinction falls, that means there can be no distinctions at all.  And that’s the fallacy of the false alternative.  I can distinguish incest from race-neutral hiring and guess what?  So can the courts.  So, I suspect, can you.

  74. Eric, I am all for ending anti-discrimination laws. Because all it does is create chaos and ultimately hurt the ones it is trying to help. And the beauty of the free market is that the racist bigot will go out of business. The problem with Jim Crow laws was not that businesses would not hire blacks, it was that they were prevented from doing this by the government. In fact, many businesses hated Jim Crow laws and fought to have them overturned.  Thomas Sowell once said that “Prejudice is free, but discrimination has costs”.

  75. I am following your outline that you laid out for A&E.  The Ducks offended their base so A&E are allowed to fire them.  Openly, unrepentant homosexuals arguing for same sex marriage offend the base of my favorite chicken eatery, so they too are allowed to fire or do the smart thing and not hire in the first place.

  76. I’m actually arguing from “all distinctions in prcinciple” (which you don’t seem to be understanding) to “this particular distinction.” You’re simply understanding me backwards, and I would venture that this is because your only option is to argue from the “is” to the “ought,” and you’re projecting your difficulty onto me. Aside from that it’s all well and good – you can’t do what you can’t do – but it makes your attempts to do so anyway to seem ignorant at best and intellectually dishonest at worst.

    there are no such good, solid reasons not to allow blacks to serve food.

    The people who thought so, thought so. And they weren’t you. Are you simply arguing ad populum?

    I can distinguish incest from race-neutral hiring

    You seem to also be arbitrarily distinguishing between incest and sexual orientation. When there is a large-enough population of pro-incest people, do the reasons go away? If all that’s required is that there be “good solid” reasons against something, then this encompasses everything. Who cares if you don’t think the reasons are good or solid?

  77. Eric said,

     The difference is that A&E does not offer a reality show to anyone who walks in off the street and wants one, unlike the baker who normally sells baked goods to anyone who walks in off the street and wants one.  A&E has a very few highly competitive, highly coveted television slots, unlike the baker, who has to sell lots and lots of cakes in order to stay in business.

    What if the baker hangs a sign in the window that says “No Offense: No Gays”?  Has he defined his customer base so as to be allowed freedom of conscience?

    And no, a restaurant couldn’t say that they don’t want gay (or black or Christian or female) waiters representing them, because the business that they’re in — serving meals to customers — has no relationship to the race, creed or color of the server, unlike A&E, which is in a different business altogether in which those things are relevant.

    So, pragmatism and utility define what is and isn’t allowed or constitutional.  Eric, it’s absolutely fine for you to hold that stance, but please just recognize that your stance isn’t actually moral neutrality.  That was the point of my other comment.  

    I don’t think the issue here is that secularists don’t have answers for these questions; I think the issue is that as an article of faith, you believe secularists can’t have answers for these questions, and so the inconvenient fact that we actually do have answers doesn’t concern you.

    Well, your answers are also based on articles of faith.   So the inconvenient fact is that those on the opposite side of the table on the issue argue against the Christian view of marriage as being solely based on faith and God’s Word are actually not striking from the grounds of tolerant neutrality, but from their “anti-God” views.

    _____

    And as far all the devoted religious people who would be offended by my defining them as “anti-God”…. well, I would say from my unapologetic evangelical Christian worldview as derived from Scripture, that their problem isn’t with me, but rather with the God who defines what He is and isn’t.

    _____

    But, to hearken in type to the complaints of the Democrats who bemoan the Republican for their belittling Obamacare while not offering their own solution, the Christian worldview doesn’t merely consist of tearing down what ISN’T the righteousness of Christ, but also in pushing forward what IS the righteousness of Christ and Kingdom of God.  I think that it is those posts that silence the cursing from the political left and political right, and ALSO the political middle, the most.  But it’s also those posts that leave them most frustrated because they can’t figure out why that Kingdom didn’t come from their own camps, respectively.

  78. And one post-script statement:  I meant to finish my implied point that your morality is based on utilitarianism.

  79. So, 78 comments before mine as I write this and it seems that about 40 of them (didn’t actually count) were Comrade Eric unintentionally proving Pastor Wilson’s original post to be 100% right-on-the-money correct. As usual.  Kind of a bummer when the best defense for your position would have been to keep quiet, but thanks for always chiming in to show the left for what it really is.

  80. And as a fun thought experiment, since we’re all talking about discrimination and what not, can a shop owner discriminate on the basis of bestiality or incest?

  81. Eric the Red wrote:

    “Katecho, the reason I skipped Matthias’ analogy is that it is too silly to deserve a response, and the fact that you’re actually treating it seriously says far more about you than it does about either the analogy or me.  However, since you’re treating it seriously, the answer is that the purpose of a restaurant is to serve food, and nothing about serving food requires painting one’s face.  Nothing about serving food requires that servers be of a particular race either, which is why anti-discrimination laws don’t allow employers to take that into account, since the certain result would be that servers of one race would end up getting treated differently than servers of another race.”

    Matthias’ point seems to have sailed, without interference, just over Eric’s head.  Eric suggests that nothing about serving food requires anyone’s face to be painted gray.  Spoken like a true materialistic reductionist.  But using Eric’s logic, nothing about serving food requires diversity either.  Eric apparently expects Christians to check their faith and conscience at the door when they enter the workplace, or leave the house (or go anywhere that Eric might see them), which is like asking a black man to check his skin color at the door.  The logic goes like this:  “Black skin isn’t needed in order to serve food, so cover it up with this gray paint to avoid offending anyone.  We’ll call it celebrating diversity.”
                                                                                                                                                    
    Eric needs to go read his own NBC news article again, and notice the secular demands that diversity be blotted out of public.  The distinctive “out of favor” beliefs of others are to be silenced and excluded from public expression (“neutralized” with a think coat of gray paint”), not for the sake of gray, of course, but for the sake of not encountering any diversity (particularly any theistic kind).  Eric’s neutrality is really a monotonous neutERality.  An inherently intolerant secularism is too fragile to risk encountering anything it finds offensive.  The strange part is that Eric probably still thinks his gray bubble-wrapped world is neutral and tolerant.  In Eric’s neutered world, Christians should only be allowed to express their Christianity in public if it is necessary for the particular task at hand (and, by the way, Eric doesn’t think it’s ever necessary for any task).  Welcome to freedom, secular style.

  82.  
    Carole, that’s not the kind of offense to the base I’m talking about.  First of all, if an employee is talking about gay marriage when he’s supposed to be waiting on customers, that’s a separate issue.  However, if you’re claiming the mere presence of gay people creates offense, that’s precisely the kind of prejudice the law was adopted to address.  I’m sure some white supremacists are offended by the mere presence of blacks, and the answer is the same:  The whole point of the law is that people should not be made to suffer economically by being disadvantaged in the job market because of other people’s prejudices.
     

  83. And I’ve never claimed that my morality is anything other than utilitarian:  It is bad for society to have a permanent minority underclass that suffers economically because of other people’s prejudices.  It’s bad for the minorities, and it creates problems that spill over into the larger society.  So bad for society, in fact, that the legislature has decided (properly, in my opinion) that redressing it is far more important than the tender sensibilities of bigots.  And Wesley, I’m not offended by your definition of anti-God, any more than I would be offended at someone defining “pig” as “a cigar with wings.”  The definition is simply wrong, but not worth getting ticked off about.  I would say that everything isn’t about your theology, which probably makes me anti-God in your book, but then again, everything isn’t about your theology.

  84. Again, I am following your guidelines.  Was Phil R. talking about sin while he was entertaining?  He was off duty.  You stated that talking about sin while he was not at work,was offensive to A&E’s base and they therefore had the right to fire him.  If a restaurant has a Christian base, and the employee of the community is publicly promoting same sex marriage does not that employer too have the right then to dismiss the offensive employee?  I believe you earlier stated that they do.

  85. If you’re implying that Christianity leads to a “permanent minority underclass” then I would have to point you to Scripture.  If you weren’t, then you and I are in wonderful agreement!

    _

    As far as the “tender sensibilities of bigots” I must ask who gets to define “bigotry”?  It will necessarily reduce to “anti-God” vs. “pro-God”, as according to my definition.

    _

    Since you admit your utilitarian foundation, which I’ve seen you do elsewhere, so I’m not chocking that up as a point for my impeccable investigative  and logical skill, please tell me the utility of homosexuality?

    _

    Now, if one wants to equate sexual preference to ethnicity, then my question could be answered with the question, “well, what’s the utility in being white or brown or…etc?”  That’s partially why I say that gay is not the new black.  Acting upon homosexual desires is a choice (but I also say that having homosexual desires may not be a choice); ethnicity is not a choice.  Discriminating on the basis of ethnicity is irrational as all are created equal, in the image of God; discrimination on the basis of sexual preference is based upon outward actions that are problematic for society.

    _

    Mind you, I’m using the term “discrimination” in its broadest, most general sense, this definition:

    : the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not
     
    : the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing

  86. And not the mere presence of a gay person, Eric.  Of a flamboyant gay person.  I am sure I do not know who struggles with homosexual desires for the most part in my community.  But let’s say I was the waitress and before I served a table’s meal, I insisted upon saying a Christian grace. Would this be okay in a primarily secular restaurant?  I don’t think so.  So then instead of saying grace, I just insisted on folding my hands and bowing my head for  45 seconds, then I put down the plates.  Would this be offensive to the secular base? Could I be dismissed for it?

  87. Carole, offensive to the base, within the context of anti-discrimination laws, means saying things like “Christians are (insert offensive comment specifically directed at Christians).”  It’s calling the base nasty names.  It’s not merely taking a political or religious position that the base disagrees with.  If the gay employee goes on the radio and says offensive things about Christians, that’s one thing.  Merely supporting a political position Christians don’t agree with is another.  Nobody would have said anything if Papa Duck had merely opposed gay marriage; lots of people oppose gay marriage.  It was the rest of the stuff he said that got him into trouble.

  88. Wesley, I don’t agree with what I consider your very silly definition of anti-God.   There is actually some biological evidence that having a small percentage of the population be gay is socially beneficial, but for the sake of argument, let us assume there is zero utility to being gay.  That will not alter the fact that some people __are__ gay, so the question is:  What, if anything, is society going to do about it.  There’s no real evidence that being gay causes any real harm; it’s not like pedophilia in which a person’s sexuality actually does injure innocent third parties.  So, what it really boils down to is this:  Society, and gays, are both better off if gay people are allowed to go wherever their individual talents and character take them.  By marginalizing gay people, you encourage them to have marginal existences, and that’s not good either for them or for society.  Mainstreaming people, and encouraging them to have close family and social ties, and financial success, means that they will be more productive and cause fewer problems. 

  89. Finally, here we are back to my point from the beginning when you thought I was off track.  How on earth is a Christian saying that homosexuality is sinful ,offensive to anyone? How did A&E not know he thought this when they hired him?   If you don’t believe our Lord exists, why would you be offended by what our Lord commands?  It is akin to other sins, yes, and he listed many.  There are many sins spelled out very clearly in the Bible.  But if you don’t believe in God, it cannot matter to you what they are. 
    So there is the problem, you say that it is offensive to the base and I say it logically can’t be.  How is that to be resolved.  By the politically correct police?

  90. Carole, you’re exactly right; since I don’t believe your deity exists, what he says about homosexuality is of no more consequence than what any other fictional character exists, except for one thing:  He’s got an awful lot of followers who do take such things seriously.  And does it occur to you that your belief system is part of the problem rather than the solution?  I am surrounded by people who think that their religion means they are supposed to be nasty to other people.  In the name of God, Jews and Muslims hate each other; Muslims and Christians hate each other; and of course if someone is gay, all three of the Abrahamic religions hate him.  Meanwhile, a lot of us secularists, who don’t have God telling us to treat other people badly, have the entirely unremarkable belief that if someone hasn’t given you a reason to treat him badly, then treat him well.  What does it say that your religion leads to conversations about whether you should be able to dump on other people?  And if you want to know why some of us are militant about religion, well, that’s a huge chunk of it.  For those of us who hope and aspire to a world in which people are judged by the content of their character rather than by who they love or what they believe about God, your religion has little to offer.  You are not part of the solution.
     

  91. Sorry, typed too fast.  The first sentence of the last post should end “what any other fictional character has to say about it.”

  92. Oh Eric, I pray that you will read the Bible, I sincerely do.  We are not told to hate other people; we are commanded to do the opposite: to love one another.  We are all sinners. There are many sins.  And we are to love all people regardless of what sin they are committing.  But, Eric, it is not love to tell someone that continuing in their sin is fine, great, keep doing it.  That is not Love.  That is disinterest.  I love my children so I give them rules. I don’t want them to hurt themselves and they do not always see the consequences of their actions.  These rules are out of love.  If I hated them, I wouldn’t care what they did.  I do not hate you or the people who have dumped on Phil R.  I pray these conversations will edify us and bring us closer to the Truth. 
    Blessings to you.

  93. Eric,
    You wrote.

    -

    I am surrounded by people who think that their religion means they are supposed to be nasty to other people.  In the name of God, Jews and Muslims hate each other; Muslims and Christians hate each other; and of course if someone is gay, all three of the Abrahamic religions hate him.
    What is the moral (not practical, moral) imperative that you have that will prevent you  to attempt to  eradicate religion from the minds of men and therefore the public square and the world? Again, not practical reasons, moral.

  94. Here is my previous post with better formatting.You wrote:

    “I am surrounded by people who think that their religion means they are supposed to be nasty to other people.  In the name of God, Jews and Muslims hate each other; Muslims and Christians hate each other; and of course if someone is gay, all three of the Abrahamic religions hate him”

     

    -

    What is the moral (not practical, moral) imperative that you have that will prevent you  to attempt to  eradicate religion from the minds of men and therefore the public square and the world? Again, not practical reasons, moral.
     
     
     
     
     

  95. Once again, context is important. It seems that the vast majority of opinions offered here are existing within an argument framed by secularists. I did not read the comments in the article as anti-gay. I read them as anti-sin. I’m not hearing any offense from adulterers, idol-worshipers, cheats, swindlers, etc. It was a blanket statement of scripture that has been twisted into a single theme. It’s tough to win an argument that’s rigged from the outset………………Also, ETR, regarding your statement ” It is bad for society to have a permanent minority class that suffers economically because of other peoples prejudices” veers significantly from your usual theme. I could envision many ways that it could be good for society as long as we agree on the particular underclass. It does not fit my views, but I don’t see how yours would exclude the possibility.

  96. Timothy, in my paradigm, the practical is the moral, and the moral is the practical.  So I’m not sure your question is a meaningful question.  Society and individuals both benefit from free speech and from allowing all viewpoints to be heard, and the danger in having some people decide that some opinions simply cannot be expressed is obvious.  That’s enough of an imperative to not try to eradicate religion.  If you look at countries in which most of the population is atheist — Sweden, Japan, France — what you find is that there has been no attempt to eradicate religion, and it still makes ceremonial appearances from time to time.  It’s true that Stalin wasn’t as tolerant as the Swedes, but that’s because he was a communist rather than merely an atheist.  The real moral imperative comes from preferring pleasure to pain, which includes allowing people to live their religious or non-religious lives as they choose, so long as they don’t interfere with others or create social harm.

  97. Eric, it sounds like you just pulled this statement out of thin air: “The real moral imperative comes from preferring pleasure to pain.”  I certainly hope that’s not your standard for morality.  Moreover, how does an atheist define morality without an absolute standard that the human race can adhere to?  As a Christian, I believe that notions of right and wrong or woven into the fabric of the universe because of God; the same way that we can know and understand the laws of nature.  In other words, we all have a moral intuition and a moral conscience because of God, because we are created in His image.  In your worldview, you can talk about morality all day long, but you don’t have any justification for doing so; you only have mere sentiment.  If there is no God, and the world just evolved naturally on its own, then all you have is survival of the fittest, which leads to “might makes right”.  But the truth is, your worldview borrows from the moral and spiritual capital of the Judeo-Christian worldview, but changes the name to secularism.  You are free to do that, of course, but then you’re apparently unaware of your inconsistency.  True atheism and true secularism will always ascribe to an autonomy of ethics; but the reality is, no one really lives that way.  Because you’ve been created in the image of God, and because the notions of right and wrong provide a clue to the meaning of the universe, you are able to make moral judgments whenever you feel some ethical boundary has been crossed.  But how did you derive that boundary?  And what if I don’t believe your boundary was crossed?  In such a situation, would you prefer that there be no objective moral standard and no objective truth?  If so, then whoever has the most clout or the most power wins.  This is how fascist and totalitarian governments operate.  And on a lesser scale, since the Left and Hollywood exert so much influence in the mainstream media, they operate under a similar standard; i.e. they are the moral arbiters of what is politically correct and what it not.  Well, sorry, we bow to God and God alone, and we hold to the precepts of His Word, the Holy Scriptures.  You are free to disagree with this worldview, and I won’t try to silence you are anyone else for disagreeing with this worldview.  But I won’t keep silent because some Hollywood elite tells me I should.

  98. “Pleasure = Good.”  Who says?  “Self-evident.”  So, if 10 racists get a kick out of gassing 7 Jews — oh, goodness rises!

  99. Eric the Red wrote:

    “The real moral imperative comes from preferring pleasure to pain…”

    We’ve established in previous threads that Eric’s worldview has no access to imperatives of any kind.  He’s even come close to acknowledging this in his more lucid moments.  Eric’s utilitarianism can only describe what is, it can’t prescribe what ought to be (simply because nothing ought to be one way versus another).  But notice that whenever the right thing involves pain or sacrifice or displeasure, Eric has basically assured us that we will find him doing the wrong thing.
                                                                                                                                                   
    We’ve also explained to Eric that, in materialism, pain and pleasure are utterly arbitrary and accidental biochemical sensations between the ears.  As a materialist, Eric wants to avoid any appeal to metaphysics, so he reduces morality to physical sensations of pain and pleasure.  The problem is that there is nothing morally good about a raw biochemical sensation.  If Eric sat in a room injecting himself with endorphins to make himself feel pleasure, 24×7, why should anyone think that Eric is being morally good?  What Eric suppresses is the truth that morality is relational and personal and spiritual.  Morality is not measured in neural reactions.  Honestly, reading Eric reminds me of the fundy unitarian who wants to argue that the sin of drunkenness is in the alcohol, or the sin of gambling is in the deck of cards.

  100. Katecho, you will have a hard time finding a unitarian teetotaler these days.  They went out of fashion long ago.  Unitarians today are much like everyone else on the matter of alcohol.  The only ones that still seem to abstain are the fundamentalists or those in church traditions that haven’t recovered from the last nationalist wave of revivalism. 

  101. I’m not talking about pleasure in the hedonistic sense, but in the David Hume sense.  A five year old might think that having ice cream and candy for breakfast is pleasurable, but in the long term, it won’t be. 

  102. Eric and Dan.

    -

     
    Thank you both. Because of your careful methodology I am persuaded to revisit all those studies of secular philosophies that I glossed over in college.
    I will start by revisitng the tenets of Utilitarianism.

    -

    What you have done–by establishing Eric’s Utilitarianism is:

    -

    1. You have shown that appeals to Natural Law (if that is not the exact term, my apologies) fall on deaf ears. Eric literally cannot come to the same the same conclusions we do; nor
    can we–being born again in Christ–become Utilitarianists.

    -

    2. Regarding  Dan’s point  we now know that as soon as it feels good to murder the baker rather than fine or jail him, Eric would be right back at this blog defending it on Utilitarianism grounds–and would enjoy doing it.
     

    -
     

    3. Upon reading point 2 above, we can predict with some confidence based on past behaviour that Eric’s  first reaction is to complain to Pastor Wilson with:   “But nobody is talking about murdering Christian’s, why are you getting so worked up about this?”

    -

    4. Finally, we cans see that this will not stop until it is stopped. At this point, I will defer to the more kind and sober souls on this blog.
     
     
     

  103. katecho, I totally agree with you that in the secular mindset of the Left, the sin of drunkenness is in the alcohol, and the sin of gambling is in the deck of cards.  But let’s not forget the sin of the “gun”.  Watch Piers Morgan and other Lefties on any given night, and it makes you wonder how much “will” and self-determination are caused by the gun itself.  Common sense (i.e. self-evident truth) should lead everyone to agree that it’s the “person” who perpetrated such a horrific crime, yet the Left will have none of it.  If only that person didn’t have access to a gun, then he’d probably be out working in a soup kitchen or taking a class.   Thus, we see not only the bankruptcy of the Left’s worldview, but the utter folly in it.  This should be self-evident, but a person has to first “conceive” of these great evils in their mind before they decide to carry them out.  But to a Leftist, somehow the evilness inherent in the gun itself caused them to carry out such a horrific crime.  I don’t say all this to downplay the necessity of common-sense gun laws, but simply to point out the incoherent worldview by so many on the Left, which is often guided by a secular (and flawed) moral framework. 

  104. Timothy, your bizarre comment that the David Humian utilitarianism to which I subscribe would permit the murder of Christians simply disqualifies anything else you say from serious consideration.  You are either completely unfamiliar with utilitarianism, or happy to misrepresent it.

  105. By the way, it takes a certain amount of hypocrisy, chutzpah, or both, to complain about gay persecution of Christians that probably won’t ever happen, in light of the history of real, vicious and horrific Christian persecution of gays.  In addition to news reports out of Uganda, here is a story from today’s news:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/24/world/europe/alan-turing-royal-pardon/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
    A man who probably did more single handedly to save England from the Nazis than anyone else was driven to suicide by Christian homophobia.  And I’m supposed to be upset about a baker being told to make a cake.

  106. Eric,

    You are either completely unfamiliar with utilitarianism,

    I have done a cursory reading of it. I will look into it in depth when I have time to do so.
    The rest of your points are crap.
     

  107. Dan wrote:

    “Watch Piers Morgan and other Lefties on any given night, and it makes you wonder how much “will” and self-determination are caused by the gun itself.”

    Exactly.  The gun is another great example of failure to understand moral culpability.  Unfortunately for materialists like Eric the Red, there is no more will or self-determination in a neural chain reaction than there is in an assault rifle.  It makes about as much sense to blame the gun as it does to blame any other stack of molecules.  Hydrocarbons aren’t special.  It’s all just atoms banging around as they tend to do, all legally, and in perfect accord with the forces of matter.  It’s not as if choices have any influence on the equations of motion.  Whatever is, is.  There is nothing more that Eric can meaningfully say about it.

  108. Dan and Katecho.
    I have only a passing familiarity with Hume and its been decades since I read him.I am going to re-familiarize myself with his philosophy, but could you please give me a heads up on how a Utilitarianist (whatever variety–are there other’s besides Hume?)  is by necessity a materialist?
    The random bunch of atoms and energy that calls itself Eric The Red has–by amazing chance–posted an interesting question and I would like to cut down on the study time if possible. Thanks in advance.

  109. Eric the Red wrote:

    “I’m not talking about pleasure in the hedonistic sense, but in the David Hume sense.  A five year old might think that having ice cream and candy for breakfast is pleasurable, but in the long term, it won’t be.”

    As a materialist, Eric’s worldview doesn’t have access to abstract metaphysical concepts like joy or sorrow.  Instead Eric has pinned his moral system to the physical sensations of pain and pleasure, on either the micro scale (neurons) or the macro scale (Hume).  But there is nothing else to attach morality to, other than biochemical sensations.  Of course this is completely arbitrary, given the purposeless of an accidental universe.  Eric may argue that it isn’t arbitrary to him because pain makes him go “ouch” and pleasure makes him go “ahhh”.  However, the point is that this reactionary response is completely accidental, and could have been the other way around without any moral consequence of any kind.  Whatever is, is.  Moral considerations have zero bearing on the motion of atoms in Eric’s materialism.  There is no term for morality in the equations of their motion.  Pretending that there is some kind of “self” that can override the laws of motion to “do the right thing” is make-believe.  Eric might as well be making up gods.

  110. Thanks K.

    Being human and made in the image of God and known since before the creation of it, surely he has a moral sense somewhere?

     

    So it seems, from what you say, that I can expect in my re-acquaintance with Utilitarianism–ala Hume–that it is also relativistic?  Does moral relativism (whatever the names for it are now) predate Hume? Or did Utilitarianism predate moral relativism.
     
    I ask about the moral relativism, because of my familiarity with it having been one myself.Before I was saved, I embraced that as a philosophy. To my mind–since an Aztec priest could laugh while cutting out the heart of a living man, or Attila the Hun found so much pleasure in raping the wives of the men he killed that the moral imperative from that point of view was  to match my philosophy to what I liked–heavy drug use, promiscuous sex, power, money and what Chesterton calls the madness of pure reason–the commitment to intense study of less and less. Which, as the Spirit has shown me, leads to spiritual death and eternal damnation. Since the goal here, is the salvation of the soul of the man who thinks he is a random bunch of atoms that calls itself Eric The Red, and if moral relativism per-dates Utilitarianism, it would be good to know.

  111. Katecho.
     
    Ignore my first paragraph above. You answered that already in your previous post. The second bunch stands.
     
    thx.
     
     

  112. Katchecko,
     
    You also answered if Utilitarianism is relativistic. It is, (:The question about the hierarchy stands.
     

  113. Timothy, philosophically speaking, the idea of utilitarianism means the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  Most of the time it is used in the realm of economics, which is why it’s often associated with the English economist John Stuart Mill, who lived in the 19th century.  But the term has also been used in the realm of moral philosophy (though it is flawed).  Also, the idea of “pragmatism” naturally flowed out of utilitarianism.  I believe the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the one who originally coined the term “utilitarianism”.  I’m not aware that David Hume was even influenced by utilitarianism, since Mr. Hume died in 1776.  Mr. Hume, the Scottish empiricist philosopher, was mostly influential in his ardent denial of miracles, due to his materialist presuppositions.  Moreover, he denounced any attempt by theists to make analogies between God’s creation and God Himself, as a means of proving God’s existence.  From my understanding, Hume would not have called himself an atheist, but rather an agnostic and a skeptic.  Like other Enlightenment philosophers of his era, he placed more emphasis on “reason” than on divine revelation, whether in nature or in the Bible.  But in Hume’s case, his “reason” was governed by a strict empiricism that would never accept the idea of miracles.  As is always the case, whatever presuppositions one holds will ultimately determine their worldview. 

  114. All right, we have Timothy acknowledging that he made pronouncements about my belief system even though he has only a “passing familiarity” with it; I suppose that’s progress.  Let me fill in a few of the blanks.  Since humans live in community, and don’t do well without community, everyone’s long-term pleasure depends on the long term well being of the community.  (That doesn’t mean there won’t be leeches, or worse, who decide to benefit from community without giving anything back, but for humans to survive, they can’t be the norm, and communities can and do take steps to protect themselves from such people.)  That, in turn, means that certain behaviors must be fostered, and others suppressed.  You call that morality; I call it utilitarianism, but it ultimately takes us both to the same conclusion.  And any attempts by you to make it more complicated than that, is simply smoke blowing.  And further, even if you were right about there being no secular basis for morality, which you are not, that would merely make secularism unpleasant but not necessarily untrue, and is certainly not an argument in favor of your own belief system.

  115. You’re half right about my views on determinism and free will, though I start by noting that as Calvinists, you don’t believe in free will either, at least in theory.  Since communitarian living is necessary to human prosperity, it’s hardly surprising that most people find the same general sorts of things pleasant or painful, that those sorts of things happen to be what foster or detract from living together in community, and that these act as checks on human behavior.  But how is that different than what you believe, that God will send people who hell who don’t do what he wants and bring them to heaven if they do?  That’s the ultimately pleasure/pain motivator, so don’t self-righteously look down your nose at determinists who believe the same thing you do, just under a different name.

  116. And none of this has anything to do with the subject of this thread; katecho and others have again hijacked the thread to make it about me.  Perhaps someone can answer my earlier question:  In light of Uganda, how isn’t is the basest and more repulsive hypocrisy for Christians to  complain about having to bake a cake? Take a look at what your fellow religionists have done to gays over the years; you sure have a low tolerance for what you consider persecution in light of your own abuse of gays over the years.

  117. Dan,
    Thank you, you saved me some time. I will start with a timeline of these various philosophies before delving into the question of whether “Humian Utilitarianism” even exists and–assuming Eric is a Utilitarian revisit that. But, tomorrow is Christmas! and I will nto be doing that tomorrow, I will fit it in between my daily devotional and morning study. Thank you.again.

  118. Eric regarding Uganda, see my response to Jill earlier in the thread.

  119. Eric, I am a Calvinist but not a determinist (and neither was Calvin). 
    While the Reformed perspective does emphasize God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation, nowhere does God’s sovereignty mitigate man’s responsibility.  It is true that God is sovereign, and the Bible affirms this.  If God is not sovereign, then He would be less than God.  It is also true that man is free, albeit in a limited sense, and man is responsible for his actions.  The Bible affirms this too.  Man is truly guilty, in spite of the fact that God is sovereign.  Therein lies the mystery.  This mystery is difficult to reconcile philosophically within our limited, finite minds, but we believe it nonetheless, because it’s what the Bible teaches.   
      
    Nowhere does Calvin, nor any other major Reformed thinker, ascribe to man the status of a robot.  Nor, of course, does the Bible.  The Bible describes a holy God who is eternal, self-existent, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present.  In other words: sovereign.  The Bible also describes man as flawed and sinful, yet man is responsible, and accountable, for his actions.  Thus, the mystery remains, which Calvinists accept.  But this is not determinism. 

  120. Hi Eric,
    Regarding :
     

    Since communitarian living is necessary to human prosperity, it’s hardly surprising that most people find the same general sorts of things pleasant or painful, that those sorts of things happen to be what foster or detract from living together in community, and that these act as checks on human behavior.
     
    We will look at this in a simple sense–by ignoring competing secular claims like the evolutionary perspective–and evaluate it on its own terms. Your argument is essentially what the majority of a culture  likes is right–like they had in Sodom and Gomorrah.

     

    But I think I see it from your perspective now. Your only chance for the survival of your ‘pleasures’ in a group that was hostile to those acts, was to change the group so that your pleasures are viewed by the majority as a good thing. Thinking that you have largely attained that goal here in the ‘formally Christian West’ , your philosophy says that since the pleasures of the group out-weigh any silly moral considerations of people like myself.
     
    Is that about right?

  121. grrrr, formatting.
     
    That first paragraph is really two. sorry for the kludge.

  122. Also, let me know if you can’t mentally fill-in-the-blanks in my incomplete sentences. its hard to proof read in these little boxes.

  123. Eric regarding…

    And none of this has anything to do with the subject of this thread; katecho and others have again hijacked the thread to make it about me.
     

    It is about you in the sense we are praying for the salvation of your immortal soul.

  124. Regarding Alan Turing, Eric perceives that he can get more mileage by playing off of the sentimentality, guilt, and moral awareness of others (given that he lacks any moral authority of his own to bring to bear).  As an apostate, Eric is undoubtedly familiar with the vulnerability of Christians to guilt manipulation.  He uses this tactic frequently on Doug’s blog.  Guilt works very well on Christians and tends to make them go silent and contemplate their own personal sin.  That’s largely how godlessness advances in a culture, by shaming.
                                                                                                                                                  
    But rather than clam up, what we should do is be eager to acknowledge factual instances of sin, claim Christ’s forgiveness, repent of that sin, individually and collectively, and continue to lean in with the Gospel against anything that raises itself up against the knowledge of God.  We don’t need to repent of what is not sin, and we don’t need to behave as if our sin remains unforgiven.  Christian sin will not be an excuse for unbelievers.
                                                                                                                                                  
    In the case of Alan Turing, my understanding is that the law was quite old and did not prosecute homosexual urges or desires, and not even all kinds of sexual acts, just the one act of sodomy in particular, and as such it required strong evidence, like being caught in the act, or a confession.  It is speculation, but if Turing had not confessed to the activity, it seems unlikely he would have been prosecuted.
                                                                                                                                                  
    Note that contemporary, John Maynard Keynes (yes, that Keynes, to which much of our current global economic disaster may be attributed), was open about his homosexuality, as were others in his circle of elites, but he was never prosecuted.  Why?  Presumably because they didn’t confess to the specific act like Turing did.
                                                                                                                                                  
    So perhaps there is more to the story.  Perhaps Turing wanted to take one for the team and become a test case.  Or perhaps Turing didn’t have the right connections that Keynes did, or perhaps the British government was simply inconsistent or corrupt in singling out Turing for application of this law.  Civic partiality is indeed sinful, and one reason why I don’t think it would be appropriate to put severe penalties against sodomy on the books tomorrow.  The culture must be changed first before the civic fence goes up.   In any case, I’m not sure how Eric would single out Christians for the sin of inconsistent enforcement that apparently occurred in Britain.  Eric seems to be upset that the law was ever on the books to begin with, but he hasn’t made a case that its mere existence was a sin that Christians need to repent of, or be ashamed of.  In a Christian culture, I think it quite helpful to have some kind of legal fence to guard against man’s depraved lusts, in principle.  The specifics are a separate discussion and I’m not saying the British law was perfect.
                                                                                                                                                  
    Finally, it should be noted that homosexuals aren’t known to be the most happy and content in their personal affairs and relationships.  It’s part of a culture of youth rebellion, particularly for teens, who experience the most pressure from their own family, but even adults destroy themselves and others emotionally through promiscuity, etc.   Today, homosexuals have government protection and support groups (even Christian ones), so they have to go looking for “persecution” at mom and pop bakeries and B&Bs and photography studios, yet the rate of suicide in adults is still several times that of heterosexuals.  I don’t say that we could rule out a feeling of Christian persecution from Alan Turing’s perspective, but what evidence is there to support this assumption?  His dream letters, where he documented his depression with his therapist, were destroyed.  However, he had apparently written about suicide decades before he was ever legally prosecuted.  It seems just as plausible that Alan Turing was fighting his own personal demons.  Confessing to civic violations may have played into that, though he may also have regretted it.
     
    I have no problem confessing and owning the actions of Christians, collectively, today or in the past, when the act was actually and clearly sinful.  But I’m not persuaded that Alan Turing is such a clear cut case.  Eric wants to be outraged about the British law itself, but Eric will have to discover a framework of moral authority and prescription first before he can go anywhere with that.  Until then, it’s just dog eat dog, as dogs do in a purposeless universe.  Appealing to Christian moral sensibilities doesn’t help Eric’s case.

  125. Regarding Calvinism, I don’t know enough about it. I call myself a “Mere Christian” in the sense that an Atheist cum Christian named C.S. Lewis uses in his book “Mere Chrisitanity.” If you would like to read the book, I will buy you a copy–Lewis was a whip-smart professor at Cambridge (Oxford? ) in England (Poland?) and does a good job of comparing, contrasting and finally arguing for Christianity. Plus, he smoked and drank, which meant a lot to me at the time.
     
    I read this blog because Pastor Wilson is not a shallow wimp of an all-show-no-substance Christian that dominates (to my eyes) American Christianity, The fact that he went toe-to-toe with the late Christopher Hitchens–an atheist who’s intellect I admired–carries a lot of weight in my book. The doctrine of pre-millenialism is new to me and appeals to me as well. There is a distinction to be made, however, between ‘the business of Christianity’ that Pastor Wilson engages in here, where his audience is, I believe, primarily other “christian professionals”  and experiencing the reality of the Holy Spirit. The latter leads to the former, in my view. I come here to learn. In short,  I am no biblical authority and I wouldn’t know Calvin from Calvin Klein.

     
    You will notice that I am fierce in my hatred of sin–(especially my own, both past and present) and will brook no quarter, even if it means hurting your feelings in the process. The fruits of it are too dreadful to contemplate.

  126. grrrrr, formating. two paragraphs in the first block above, separated by the smoking and drinking reference.

  127. Timothy, C.S. Lewis taught (at different times) at both Cambridge and Oxford in England.  He was very much influenced by Tolkien during the time of his conversion to Christianity.  Also, it’s an interesting fact that Lewis died on the exact same day as J.F. Kennedy.

  128. After being part of this conversation  for two days, Eric, your last comment to me stunned me so much that I could think of little else since…And I worry that because you are so versed in philosophy generally, that I assumed  you understood Christianity. From the beginning I couldn’t understand why you think telling someone their behavior is sinful is insulting them.  When it is the same as telling someone standing on a ledge not to step down.  If I were the baker, I wouldn’t bake the cake because I don’t want to celebrate that which is separating two people from their heavenly father.  It is not because I hate them. If I hated them, I would take the money and laugh all the way to the bank…it is because I am told to love them.  And yes, I would pay the fine.  For years TV had the funny drunk characters, even on our beloved Andy G show.  Ha ha, isn’t that funny and cute watching the alcoholic bum fall down and slur his words. Every show had one, and we all laughed until a few  Christian men stood up and said, “actually it’s not funny.  They are broken and need help.”  Now we have the same thing with homosexuals on every show and this year Christmas ads. We are to all laugh at their funny accents and mannerisms:  “isn’t that cute; every girl should have one.”  But it isn’t funny to us because we know that this unrepentant act is separating them from God and will do so eternally.  I will not teach my kids to giggle and laugh at the funny men who talk like caricatures.  I will not celebrate their sin just as I would not bake a cake for someone because he got his 5th DUI.  It is not because we hate, Eric, it is because we have been loved and want others to experience that same love.  We warn others of sin, and this one particularly, because so many haters are encouraging folks to participate in it.  Love is telling someone what they are doing is dangerous even when it is not what they want to hear.
    I don’t want anyone to be bullied or discriminated against.  But I also do not want to celebrate any kind of sin as if it is wonderful and won’t hurt the people engaging in it.  This is what makes these laws difficult…where does protecting someone become hurting them… and I don’t have an easy answer for that.
     

  129. Dan,
     

    Thank you. btw, I slipped the (Poland?) in there because I knew it would make people look twice (:  (Timothy giggles to himself at his awesome joke)
     

     

  130. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody and may God bless you. Especially you, Eric The Red.

  131. I would like, if we can, to lay the morality issue to rest once and for all since we keep covering the same ground over and over again.  Since the rest of you accept as a given that there is no basis for morality apart from God, and since I don’t believe in God, it therefore follows that as you define your terms, I _can’t_ have a basis for morality.  It really doesn’t matter how air tight and internally consistent and logical a basis for morality I come up with, under your theology I can’t have a basis for morality because I’m not allowed to.  So, rather than rehash this over and over and over again, can we just stipulate that (1) as you define the terms, I don’t have a basis for morality; (2) I don’t agree with how you define your terms; and (3) I also don’t agree that I don’t have a basis for reality, but we’re never going to reach agreement on that point, so let’s just drop it.  Deal?

  132. Carole, the reason for the offense is that gays, and their supporters, don’t think it’s sinful.  You seem like a very nice person who wouldn’t deliberately harm a fly, but try to imagine how this sounds in the ear of a gay person who thinks his sexuality is just fine and doesn’t need any adjusting.  They don’t see that they have anything to repent from.  Gay Christians even go so far as to say that being gay is a gift from God, and cite James 1:17 as authority.  To you, that probably approaches blasphemy (if it doesn’t actually cross the line), but to them, they’re good the way they are.  So when someone comes along to tell them they need to change, they see it as rude, patronizing, and bigoted, even though none of that is your intention.  Just as you would see it as rude, bigoted and patronizing if someone told you that you need to repent of being a Christian.  And, if the person then went on to say to you, “I’m only telling you that you need to repent of being a Christian because I love you and want what’s best for you,” how would that make you feel? Well, that’s how gay people feel about it too.

  133. Katecho, as I understand the facts, Turing was arrested as part of an undercover sting in which the police used to use decoys to entice gay men into having sex and then arrest them, just as is still done in prostitution stings.  You are correct that most homosexuals managed to avoid arrest and prosecution, just as today, most people who use drugs are probably able through prudence and discretion to avoid arrest.  However, if you were one of the unlucky ones who was caught up in a sting, the personal consequences were catastrophic.  That also happened to the brilliant astronomer Frank Kameny, who was on track for a Nobel prize before being arrested during a sex sting in 1957, at which point he lost his security clearance and the job that went with it.  And, to go back to the point I’m trying to make, I am just not aware of gays persecuting Christians the way Christians used to persecute gays in this country, and still do persecute gays in Uganda.  

  134. Timothy (and Merry Christmas to you, too), the point is that there is no reason why the group should concern itself with private sexual behavior unless that behavior is somehow harming the group.  It goes back to what I said earlier:  groups thrive if individuals thrive, and individuals thrive if they are free to pursue their own happiness.  Who knows what other great things Turing might have accomplished if he hadn’t been arrested for sodomy?  

  135. Dan, I don’t see how you reconcile predestination with anything other than determinism.  I am predestined for either heaven or hell, and there isn’t a thing I can do about it, and what appear to be my life choices will be determined by which of those paths I’m on.  You may not believe in determinism to the same extent a hard core determinist does (which I’m not, by the way), but your most important decision in life was already made for you.

  136. Finally, I note that in addition to being Christmas, tomorrow is also the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton.  Be sure to observe the day with all appropriate gravity.
     

  137. Merry Christmas, Eric!!!!
     

  138. I also want to say Merry Christmas to Eric, and everyone else who’s contributed to this lively discussion.  And I agree with Eric, sometimes we just have to agree to disagree.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. 

  139. Perhaps someone can answer my earlier question:  In light of Uganda, how isn’t is the basest and more repulsive hypocrisy for Christians to  complain about having to bake a cake? Take a look at what your fellow religionists have done to gays over the years; you sure have a low tolerance for what you consider persecution in light of your own abuse of gays over the years
    I don’t think it logically follows that because homosexuals are being persecuted in Uganda Christians should have to make cakes for homosexual weddings. 
     And I’m supposed to be upset about a baker being told to make a cake.
    No.  But should a christian be forced to help celebrate a homosexual marriage?

  140. grr sorry that got all bunched up.

  141. “Perhaps someone can answer my earlier question:  In light of Uganda, how isn’t is the basest and more repulsive hypocrisy for Christians to  complain about having to bake a cake? Take a look at what your fellow religionists have done to gays over the years; you sure have a low tolerance for what you consider persecution in light of your own abuse of gays over the years”

    I don’t think it logically follows that because homosexuals are being persecuted in Uganda Christians should have to make cakes for homosexual weddings.  

     And I’m supposed to be upset about a baker being told to make a cake. 

    No.  But should a christian be forced to help celebrate a homosexual marriage?

  142. Eric the Red wrote:

    “I would like, if we can, to lay the morality issue to rest once and for all   …  we’re never going to reach agreement on that point, so let’s just drop it.  Deal?”

    No doubt Eric would love it if we stopped walking briskly past the house of cards of his bootstrapped morality and spineless relativism.  But, to paraphrase Wilson: when it comes to putting down every thought that raises itself up against the knowledge of the Lord, we should be the type of homeowner who believes in the effectiveness of buckshot even if the burglar doesn’t.  So if Eric is going to continue to piggyback off of our Christian moral instincts to peddle his sentimental jabs, veiled insults, and guilt manipulations in each of Wilson’s posts, then I’m happy to continue to expose the fact that there is no emperor beneath Eric’s camouflage.  It’s good practice to articulate and refine our apologetic using actual challenges, and it might even be helpful for other Christians who frequent here (i.e. it’s not always about Eric).
                                                                                                                                                 
    So I politely decline Eric’s “deal”.  I’m more inclined to lean in (pun intended).
    God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen!

  143. Carole, the bible does not forbid flamboyant mannerisms, does it? No one had addressed my concern, so I assume that unchallenged, it is dispositive. A baker who discriminates against homo fornicators but not against hetero fornicators is making a completely arbitrary distinction that is not based in Christian values. It is prudent for the state to assume that this discrimination is therefore motivated by hate, which is not protected by the first amendment. 

  144. Eric the Red wrote:

    “Katecho, as I understand the facts, Turing was arrested as part of an undercover sting in which the police used to use decoys to entice gay men into having sex and then arrest them, just as is still done in prostitution stings.”

    Perhaps there is something to this stereotype that gay men are promiscuous slaves to their own libido, but I’ve come to be skeptical of Eric’s understanding of the facts.  In this case the great internets describe that Alan Turing (then about 41) was far from a victim of a government sting or entrapment.  Rather Turing’s home had been burglarized, and one of his fellow sodomites, a 19-year old named Arnold Murray, was suspected by Turing because of a previous incident of money missing from Turing’s wallet:

    “Turing reported the burglary, and police officers in turn took fingerprints. On the advice of a solicitor, Turing wrote to Murray to revive the question of the missing tenner and to break off the friendship. Murray turned up on Turing’s door, angrily protested his innocence, and threatened to go to the police about the affair. He retracted the threat, then ended up in Turing’s bed after telling him he thought the burglary was committed by an unemployed acquaintance called Harry. In the night, Turing put away a glass with Murray’s fingerprints on it, which he then turned over to the police along with a fabricated story about how it had come into his possession.
                                                                                                                                                
    The police had in fact identified Harry’s fingerprints at the crime scene, and it did not take them long to figure out from his statement exactly what had been going on. When Turing was questioned he was trapped in a lie about how he knew Murray, and when confronted he nervously blurted out the truth.”

    http://www.polarimagazine.com/features/turing-centenary-trial-alan-turing-homosexual-conduct/

    So it seems Turing chose poor bedfellows and ended up being caught in his own lies.  I’m sure Eric would prefer to lay this at the feet of Christians, but, as I mentioned previously, we can’t simply assume that Turing was not wrestling with his own personal demons at the time of his suicide.  It’s not a happy lifestyle.

  145. Regarding Uganda
    “In the mean time, despite all of the hysteria in the liberal media, it is important to remember that there is no death penalty for homosexuals in Uganda, only a bill under debate that will hopefully be modified before passage. The only Ugandans who have been executed for their beliefs and actions about homosexuality have been Christians.”
    http://www.defendthefamily.com/pfrc/newsarchives.php?id=4480922

  146. Michael D wrote:

    “No one had addressed my concern, so I assume that unchallenged, it is dispositive. A baker who discriminates against homo fornicators but not against hetero fornicators is making a completely arbitrary distinction that is not based in Christian values.”

    If a baker wanted to interview customers to find out their unconfessed sins, and if they only refused to sell to homosexual fornicators, then I could certainly grant a glaring inconsistency.  Scripture does not call Christians to separate out homosexual acts into a distinct class from other perversions.  This was actually part of Phil Robertson’s point in the GQ interview:

    “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” Robertson told GQ. “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers-they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

    Homosexual behavior is an advanced kind of rebellion against the created order, but notice that God’s list doesn’t single out homosexual perversion into its own separate category.
                                                                                                                                                
    However, there is a Scriptural principle of liberty that allows us to partake in the meat market without inquiring too deeply into the source of the meat.  But if it should come to our attention that the meat has been sacrificed to idols, we should refuse it, not because false gods are anything to us, but for the sake of the one who informed us.
                                                                                                                                                
    Similarly, a bakery is not required to investigate the sexual past of its customers, but if two men come in holding hands and asking for a wedding cake, or if one person comes in asking for a cake with “Congratulations on your marriage, Bob and Steve”, or if another asks for a cake with “Congratulations on 6 years of heterosexual fornication”, then they have each advertized their own sin.  The baker’s Christian conscience should kick in for all of these cases.
                                                                                                                                                
    Michael D continued:

    “It is prudent for the state to assume that this discrimination is therefore motivated by hate, which is not protected by the first amendment.”

    Prudent to assume?  What are they teaching in civics class today?  The State has to actually prove its court cases, not simply assume guilt.  Also, hate crime and hate speech is a novelty which has allowed the State to expand its jurisdiction beyond actual crimes and into the more general realm of sins.  Beware when the State starts to prosecute sin at large.  Finally, Michael’s use of the phrase “is not protected by the first amendment” suggests that he thinks the First Amendment exists for some reason other than to protect us from excesses and abuses by the federal government.  In other words, the First Amendment’s purpose is not to protect us from hate by other citizens, it was intended to protect us from encroachment by the federal government as they seek to curtail our freedom of speech.  In yet other words, the First Amendment was intended to protect us from things like federal hate speech laws.  It has clearly failed to do so.

  147. Eric wrote:
    “I would like, if we can, to lay the morality issue to rest once and for all since we keep covering the same ground over and over again”
     

    Not so fast, cowboy. Tomorrow, I would like to look at the text of the Ugandan law, specifically Clause 3 and evaluate it using your Humian Utilitarianism.  From that examination, I suspect we will find that the Humian Utilitarianism you espouse utterly fails undercuts your argument for prosecuting Christian bakers for  not supporting your immoral world view.
    A PDF of the law can be found here: <a href=”http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2012/02/ahb2009feb2012.pdf”>http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2012/02/ahb2009feb2012.pdf</a&gt;
     

     
     

    Or, if you don’t trust Patheos to do the right thing, it is posted at this pro-homosexualist website here: <a href=”http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/btb/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009.pdf”>http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/btb/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009.pdf</a&gt;
     

    Now, back to Christmas. See you tomorrow.
     

  148. Katecho, I’m not piggy backing off Christian values; Christians largely stole those values from Greek pagans (along with Christmas, which they stole from German pagans; the Trinity, which they stole from Egyptian pagans; and hell for unbelievers, which they stole from Persian pagans).  So, if you want to talk about who is stealing from whom, we can have that conversation, but I’m not sure you’ll like the result.  With respect to Turing, I just googled it and you are correct as to the facts of his arrest.  A gay person who has been burglarized, however, should not be put to a choice of risking prison if he involves the police.  Had there not been a sodomy law on the books, passed by Christian homophobes, he would not have been put to the choice.  

  149. Michael,
    I am very pleased to say, that I agree on that point.  I was very wrong and through these discussions have realized it.  I think it would be a wonderful thing for someone flamboyant to work in an encouraging Christian environment like we find at our local CFA.  I can’t think of a better place for someone to gently be introduced to believers.  Who knows how his life could be ultimately changed and renewed.  I appreciate the correction.

  150. Eric, I saw that you employed the ad hominem (i.e. Christian homophobes) in your recent comment.   And on Christmas too, which is unfortunate.  Nevertheless, I wanted to point out that it’s utter nonsense to espouse that Christians “stole” the idea of the Trinity from Egyptian pagans.  And regarding Christmas, it’s common knowledge that Christians took a pagan holiday from the Roman Empire and Christianized it, but so what?  It must have worked, since most of the world now celebrates Christmas instead of Mithras, or any of the pagan mystery religion cults from the ancient Roman Empire.  It’s one of the many tired old argument by secularists to think they have a “gotcha” moment when informing Christians that some of our holidays had pagan origins (such as Christmas and Easter).  Well, thanks, but we already know that, so you’re a little late to the party.  But this fact changes nothing and it does no harm to the Christian faith or its traditions.   Lastly, it’s a straw-man argument by the Left to assume that one must either be pro-homosexual or else a homophobe.  And speaking of making things up, the word “homophobe” is an artificial word, and is really more of a euphemism.  The secular culture does this all the time when they need to demagogue an issue that they really don’t have a cogent argument for.  Even a small child can make up a new word by adding “phobe” at the end; it’s really not that sophisticated.  Nevertheless, the truth is that there are millions of people, including millions of Christians, who are not pro-homosexual nor “homophobic”.  But we are not willing to change the traditional definition of marriage, nor pretend that all views of marriage are the same.  And yes, since the Bible (in both the Old and New Testaments) refers to homosexuality as a sin, Christians are not afraid to point this out from time to time; just as Christians point out many other sins listed in the Bible (e.g. adultery, fornication, lust, pride, envy, lying, stealing, gossiping, etc.).  Yet Christians are also called to love the sinner even while hating the sin.  Do Christians always do this well?  Of course we do not, but that is our fault and our failure, it is not Christ’s.   Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost, the sinful, and the broken, of which I am one of them.  Only through being reconciled to Christ, due to His life, death, and resurrection, can mankind be forgiven and saved from our sin and our guilt.

  151. To make something clear: Christians are not homophobic.  They’re not afraid of homosexuals.  This is a misnomer.  We’re afraid of the consequences of homosexuality to the individuals in question.  In each of our decisions in life, our souls are at stake.  Each time we make a choice, we grow a litter closer or a bit farther away from God (C. S. Lewis).  We can harden our hearts and ultimately reject God’s provision for our salvation in Jesus Christ.  If that occurs, it’s a tragedy that’s irreversible and eternal in nature.  To imagine such a plight is impossible.  Suffice it to say that it’s a place no one wants to be.  In a world created and sustained by God, our best and ultimate choice is with God who restores our lives.  Eternal life with our Creator–the giver of life–is obviously preferable to eternal death without him!

  152. Dan, Thank you for writing your last post. 

  153. Dan, actually the logical fallacy I used wasn’t ad hominem; it was tu quoque, which, while still a logical fallacy, is a bit different.  Tu quoque basically means “you too” and it is the fallacy of using one’s opponent’s hypocrisy to attack their position.  An argument’s validity does not hinge on whether a proponent of that argument is a hypocrite.  So, while I do think it’s hypocritical to complain about petty stuff like baking a cake while your compatriots are having gay people arrested and imprisoned overseas, you are correct that that hypocrisy does not deal with the underlying question of whether the baker is distinguishable from papa duck.  I knew that, and should have been more clear in my original post.

  154. The Christmas issue is a bit different, however.  For months, katecho and others have been telling me that my morality is snitched Christian presuppositions whose source I refuse to acknowledge.  That argument is unhistorical to the point of absurdity.  The Golden Rule predates Jesus by at least 400 years; Socrates said essentially the same thing.  In fact, most of Christian morality can be found in the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers; as best as I can tell, the only thing missing is what would be considered Christian theology proper.  So telling me that I can’t have a basis for morality without the God of the Bible is a little like telling the bumblebee he can’t fly:  Just watch me.  You may disagree with my morality, in both premise and conclusion, but that is a separate issue from whether it exists.  And I brought in Christmas, the trinity, and hell as examples of other things Christianity claims for itself that actually have their roots elsewhere.

  155. I hope everyone has had a very blessed day!
    Eric, you asked me how I would feel if someone told me being a Christian was sinful.  First, I don’t think that we can equate my faith and someone’s sexual behavior.  But if you would like me to imagine how I would feel if someone told me a behavior I was engaging in was sinful, then of course I would feel badly, probably ashamed, but as this has in fact happened, I also know that in the long run I appreciated my brother/sister telling me when they were right, and was able to dismiss their comment and move on, when I did not agree.  I don’t think we want to hold any of our legal rights hostage to making others feel bad.  Did you watch the “debate’ with Pastor Wilson and Mr Sullivan? Uncomfortable!  Even though we lose arguments and are often blinded to the truth; hearing it should give us pause for consideration, not the right to silence…or do you think making people “feel bad,” is a good enough reason to fire someone? And I don’t think you can divorce the comments  PD made from his religion.  He was not attacking any one group personally, he was stating a documented  tenet of his religion.  There are a great many things I do that other religions might find immoral; let’s say, not dressing as some religions dictate. If my employee of this religion speaks about these dress codes outside of work, may I fire him legally?

  156. Eric, I would contend that you “do” have a basis for morality; it is the God of the Bible.  However, you don’t acknowledge Him as such, which of course is your prerogative.  You have been created in the image of God, thus you bear His likeness and His communicable attributes.  Moreover, the bumblebee was created with certain DNA which allows it to fly according to its nature, and according to the laws of nature, which God also made possible.  If there is no God, then there would be no laws of nature.  There would only be chaos and disorder.  This is about as fundamental as it gets.   What we attribute the “laws of nature” are really phenomena which are only possible, and observable, if there is a rationally coherent foundation to reality.  This acknowledgement of a coherent, rational order of the universe is a necessary presupposition for acquiring knowledge, discerning truth, and doing science.  Whether one accept or denies this presupposition, it would be impossible to practice science (or mathematics or physics) in a random, disorderly universe.  Thus, as a Christian, I accept the presupposition that God is the ultimate foundation of reality, order, and rationality, which enables us to discover the laws of nature, as well as knowledge in general.  Unfortunately, many secular-minded people blindly trust the laws of nature (or laws of physics) to function in an orderly, consistent way, without ever explaining why this is so in the first place.  Hence, there is a gap in their worldview.  If everything “evolved” as many secular scientists insist, then so did the laws of physics.  If the laws of physics did not evolve, then they must be eternal, which of course contradicts the theory of evolution.  Therein lies their philosophical dilemma.  This is because a universe that was at one time absent of the laws of physics would be a universe of mere chaos and disorder, which is hardly a foundation upon which to produce a coherent, rational, and orderly world.  Whether the secular-minded scientist believes the laws of nature are eternal, or that they evolved, either way it is his “faith” and not his “science” which compels him to do so, since neither conclusion is based on empirical evidence and is thus beyond the realm of science.  Therefore, the secular-minded scientist must make a metaphysical assumption – a leap of faith – which becomes the philosophical basis of his naturalistic worldview.  Eric, there is just no getting around this fact.  Because God exists, we not only can know something about nature, but we can know something about the God who created nature.  And we have no excuse for denying it.  This is precisely what the biblical doctrine of “general revelation” means in Romans 1:18-32.

  157. Eric the Red wrote:

    “For months, katecho and others have been telling me that my morality is snitched Christian presuppositions whose source I refuse to acknowledge.”

    Eric actually has two moralities;  one which he is obliged to defend in public as a materialistic adversary of Christ, and one which is exposed in his actual life and practice.  It doesn’t bother me in the least that Eric already shares many presuppositions together alongside Christians.  He sort of has to in order to function in the world God made.   (A = A, and all that.)  However, the presupposition of the Creator God is the central one that Eric is missing/suppressing, and if he would borrow/steal/acknowledge this presupposition, he’d be doing much better for himself.
                                                                                                                                                
    However, what I’ve actually argued is that Eric borrows or piggybacks on our moral sensitivities whenever he needs some traction to complain about homosexuals who didn’t get their cake, or the immorality of giving raw milk to children, etc.  Eric does not (can not) make a case from his own worldview (since it has no moral or prescriptive authority at all), so he simply settles in like a parasite on a host to leverage a sentiment that he trusts is already present in Christians here.  Eric needs a Christian host to provide the moral wheels and the moral magnetic field.  He is assuming our functioning morality, not for application to himself, but for its effect on us, and for rhetorical weight which he cannot produce out of his system.  This is what I’ve pointed out on many occasions.  Eric’s arguments may or may not hold if you drop them into our worldview, but his arguments wouldn’t hold in his own materialistic worldview for two seconds.  Eric really really doesn’t want to talk about that.  He doesn’t seem in the least bothered or interested that his arguments don’t hold in his own materialism, he just needs them to take hold here.  It appears that he is more interested in just manipulating the Christians on their own principles.  He is offended to find himself in a position to supply a viable alternative.

    “So telling me that I can’t have a basis for morality without the God of the Bible is a little like telling the bumblebee he can’t fly:  Just watch me.  You may disagree with my morality, in both premise and conclusion, but that is a separate issue from whether it exists.”

    Clearly we need to spend much more time with Eric on the subject of his morality and debate tactics.  The point is not that Eric is without moral awareness, or moral discernment.  In other words, Eric’s problem is not that he can’t fly, the problem is that he can and does fly (after a fashion) and this itself is a problem, given his materialism.  Behaving as an intentional, conscious, proactive, moral being is something that Eric needs to give a persuasive account for, because materialism supports none of these things.   It provides no wings.  The clothes have no emperor.  I’m happy to explain why this is the case.
                                                                                                                                                
    So the question is not whether we agree with Eric’s moral conclusions, or whether Eric’s moral compass exists.  The question is whether there is any moral magnetic field to direct the compass, or whether Eric is just making his compass point in any arbitrary direction he wishes.  Given Eric’s purposeless accidental universe, there simply are no moral expectations.  Again, there are no expectations about how people behave.  Yet Eric feels that individuals and groups are free to concoct, fabricate, make up, fantasize, and cook up some arbitrary expectations anyway.  He basically admits this, but so far he refuses to present any argument as to why such conscious make-believe should have any prescriptive authority at all.  Until he seriously engages in this topic, he’s like a parasite camouflaging himself as if his morality is somehow similar to that of his host.

  158. Dan and Katecho,

    Hume was a pre-cursor to classical Utilitarianism so, Humian Utilitarianism is a fair term. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/utilitarianism-history/

     

    I have the beginnings of a Utilitarian argument against Eric’s position and was hoping you could offer some criticism.
     
    I think it is important to do develop a logical argument on Utilitarian grounds because if you do an Internet search for “Utilitarianism Gay Marriage” the hits suggest that this may be the hill the professional left has chosen to fight on.
     
    The form of my attempt is to defend both the Ugandan law and jailing Christian bakers on Utilitarian grounds.
     
    A PDF of the Ugandan law is  <a href=”http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2012/02/ahb2009feb2012.pdf”>here</a>.
    I chose Clause 3 on the presumption that it is self-evident (in December of 2013, at least, hopefully, still) that a civilization has the duty to protect children from rape by HIV infected homosexuals.

     

    The form is this:
     
    Argument P.
     
    1. A Utilitarian desires the greatest “good” for the greatest number of people.
    2. Without children, there are no people for whom to maximize the greatest good, therefore, the good of the greatest number of people warrants the protection of children.
    3. Clause 3 of the Ugandan law specifically penalizes homosexuals in the case of HIV positive men having sex with children. Thereby increasing the greater good.
    4. Clause 3 of the Ugandan law is valid under Utilitarian principles.
    5. The Utilitarian principle of maximizing the greater good requires stigmatizing homosexual behavior
     
    Argument Q:
     
    1.  A Utilitarian desires the greatest “good” for the greatest number of people.
    2.  Homosexual marriage increases the greater good. (defined as happiness, if I remember the thread correctly)
    3.  Actions that increase human happiness are to be encouraged.
    4.  Actions that decrease human happiness are to be penalized.
    5.  Christians who refuse to bake a wedding cake for homosexuals are at odds with Utilitarian principles
    6.  Under Utilitarian principles it is a good to punish those who punish homosexual behavior.
    By Logical Conjunction P ^ Q must both be true for the Utilitarian position to hold, but in my construction they do not. Hence the Utilitarian position endorsing homosexual behavior is disproved.
     
    The problems I see in my construct are:
     
     
    P2: The Utilitarian approach probably would not give special benefit to children. I do not know this, however.

    P3 vs Q2: Is the weakest link as pederasty by HIV infected homosexuals is not the same as homosexual marriage. Because of this, I may need to construct this using different clauses of the
    Ugandan law.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  159. grrrr formatting breaks down….Let me know if I should re-post it piecemeal, one clause per post, thanks

  160. Katecho
    Your last post was awesome. Thank you.
    I have noticed that whenever a moral argument approaches a conclusion that Eric likes to change the subject. Your earlier post on not relenting to his evasions is spot-on as well.
    We are blessed to have you fighting with us. Thank you.

  161. But there is a magnetic field, and it is the simple fact that atheists have no more desire to live in a dog-eat-dog world than you do.  The fact that you don’t consider that a sufficient magnetic field says more about you than it does about the magnetic field.  It essentially says that the only reason you have for not turning the earth into a terrestrial hell is that you have God telling you not to.  For us, the mere desire not to live in a terrestrial hell is more than enough.

  162. “there is no basis for morality apart from God” is not equivalent to “I don’t believe in God.” You then state:

     It therefore follows that as you define your terms, I _can’t_ have a basis for morality.

    Which is the exact opposite of what any of us have ever said. You can, and you do. I feel like you should already know this though, because you even state:

    For months, katecho and others have been telling me that my morality is snitched Christian presuppositions whose source I refuse to acknowledge.

    Which is what we’ve told you all along. Playing dumb has never been an effective strategy, historically. And consignment to pragmatism is, by the nature of the case, abdication of morality. Which is why it never exactly works for you, Eric, when you attempt a moral pronouncement. Your tone ends up mimicking the very thing you’re arguing against.

  163. Matthias is correct – any worldview that’s rooted in pure utilitarianism or pragmatism is an abdication of morality, at least philosophically speaking.  It may not be the intention of the person holding to this worldview, but it’s the end result nonetheless.  In a random, purposeless, materialist universe, any notion of morality would simply be an organic development within a particular community, with its rules and precepts being upheld by whoever has the most clout or the most power.  And this must be the case in a universe governed by survival of the fittest, where the only law is that “might makes right”.  There would be no moral sense or moral intuition within us, but only amoral instincts protecting and promoting our own survival.  Thus, any deeds of altruism would be mere accidents with no justification for being a good and noble thing.  For there would be no such thing as a good and noble thing, since whatever happens just happens, without any spiritual reality imposing itself on us and compelling us to act in a way that we “ought” to act.  This sense of “oughtness” is precisely what’s woven into the fabric of the universe that God created, and which we are all held accountable to.  It’s another aspect of the doctrine of “general revelation” which I discussed in my previous comment.

  164. So Dan and Matthias
    From the Utilitarian perspective–not ours–do they acknowledge that arbitrariness of morality as a problem? Do they embrace that arbitrariness?
    From your points, I am thinking a logical approach is not possible with these people.
     
    thx.
     
     
     
     

  165. Timothy, I don’t believe they see the arbitrariness of morality as a problem, which I think is a blind spot and a gap in their worldview.  As I stated in an earlier comment, as a Christian, I believe that notions of right and wrong or woven into the fabric of the universe because of God; the same way that we can know and understand the laws of nature.  In other words, we all have a moral intuition and a moral conscience because of God, because we are created in His image.  In the utilitarian worldview, they can talk about morality all day long, but they have no “justification” for doing so; they only have mere sentiment.

  166. timothy, it’s an approach to ethics predicated on a lack of regulatory morality. In other words, having gotten rid of Morality as something that regulates what people must do, what’s left is a bunch of history recounting what people have done, and, really, it comes down to concensus as to what people should do as a result. (How that doesn’t amount to a fallacious argument ad populum, I’ve never been told.) As to whether subscribers to this acknowledge the problem, some do, and they see it as the only possible way to do ethics, and revel in cognitive dissonance. Others don’t acknowledge the problem, or as Eric does, refuse to acknowledge that it is a problem. At the hazard of sounding punny, there’s nothing in that philosophy that dictates what a person should do with the problem ;)

  167. And that segues into your other point about being a parasite on the moral systems of others. Since he has none of his own, he needs ours to use against us. Hence the charges of ‘hypocrisy’ the pivot to  ‘what about this outrage?’ and the indifference to logical consistency. Since he cannot create, he must tear down. 

    -
     

    What these guys don’t get is the well of good-will is not in-exhaustible. There are lines that we will not cross and we will die defending

  168. I get it now!
     
     C.S.Lewis is describing Eric The Red in the chapter titled ‘The Way’ in his book, ‘The Abolition of Man’. Eric is the branch rebelling against the tree. He is the man Confuscius had in mind when he said, “With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel’. He is Aristotle’s corrupt man who is hostile to ethics, but does not know what is being discussed.

    -
     

    I just finished my first read of that book a few days ago and immediately put it back on the nightstand for re-reading. Here it is being put to good use. Thank you C.S. Lewis!
     
     

  169. It is nothing short of astonishing to me that the desire to live in peace, prosperity and happiness rather than war, poverty and misery isn’t considered an adequate basis for morality, but whatever.  It’s not populism either, since certain behaviors lead to certain results whether the majority likes it or not.  Nor is it arbitrary; certain behaviors lead to certain results.  It isn’t snitched Christian morality; it’s snitched morality that Christians originally snitched from the pagans and we’d like it back.  And finally, since you are defining morality as requiring a divine origin, __of course__ atheists can’t come up with a basis for morality that will satisfy you, but that’s OK; the mere desire to build a better world for ourselves and our children satisfies us.

  170. Eric,
    Without the grounding in The Way that we speak of , you may desire those things, but you will not be able to produce them. What you are sowing will yield bitter fruit. You are caught in a ‘magnetic field’ who’s poles ultimately align with eternal death at one end and eternal life at the other. You are pointing towards the pole labeled eternal death. I prefer to go the other way, thank you. Like magnetism, there is an unseen law that can be viewed by its effects. It is the Moral Law. It applies to you whether you like it or not.
     

  171. I think much too often, the lack of the Church acting like it should, and the lack of professed Christians acting like we should, causes others to turn away from the God of the Bible.  Having said that, everyone is still without excuse for acknowledging the God who created them and for seeking after the truth.  But mankind is quite adept at not only suppressing the truth, but exchanging the truth for lies, due to our sinful nature.  It should be no surprise that when people dismiss the reality of even their own Creator, their worldview breaks down on so many levels, to the point where incoherence appears reasonable and even good.  But these are the evil one’s schemes, which seek to blind us to the truth, and cause us to believe that we are wise and good and righteous in ourselves and in no need of Christ’s atonement and forgiveness for our sins. 

  172. And that lack of coherence goes unnoticed due to the fact that many people’s worldviews lack precision and are often held unreflectively.  The dissonance is not greatly felt, at least not consciously so.

  173. But Eric, desire is clearly not enough, as you’ve countered many times. Not if what’s “good” for the majority goes against desire. People possess varied deviant desires, don’t they? Are you ignoring the fact that people have tried for peace through war? Or prosperity through poverty? This dichotomy you’re trying to create between two things people have done in the past doesn’t work when you’re trying to determine what people should do now. Mere desire is not enough. Mere majority is apparently also not enough. But this is your story.

  174. Timothy, in case you’re interested, I’ve written down some basic thoughts concerning Utilitarianism: http://www.choosinghats.com/2013/10/futilitarianism/ (apologies for the self-promotion. Just attempting to cash in some copiousness.)

  175. Dan, I really appreciate your posts, and the others being written so well. I wonder though, if you would explain why it is that you point to our moral intuition woven into the fabric of the universe rather than to the Bible laying out the rules of right and wrong? It has been a long time since my philosophy days, but I remember running into problems with this… thanks.

  176. Carole, great question.  I absolutely believe that the Bible is the primary means through which we as Christians base our theology and our morality.  However, my comments were more philosophical in nature, in order to explain the theistic worldview to those who may not regard the Bible as God’s “special revelation” to us.  Since God is the Author of both the Bible and nature (i.e. special revelation and general revelation), we can therefore know something about God and something about nature.  Hence, the reference to Romans chapter 1 where the Apostle Paul shows that man is without excuse.  Paul here is appealing to “general revelation” which all of mankind is endowed with, but which many suppress the truth due to their sinful nature.  Thus, even those who do not accept, nor read, the Bible, they are still accountable to God their Creator, since He has made His existence known to them.  Moreover, since we are created in His image, we therefore bear His likeness and we have His law written on our hearts, to which our consciences also bear witness (Romans 2:14-15).  

  177. Both types of revelation–scriptural and general–are capable of being suppressed to some degree or another.  In our wickedness, we suppress truth.  Some suppress it more than others, of course, and at different times of our lives we suppress it to different degrees.  The Christian is open to revelation.  Their minds are enlightened through the Holy Spirit and they are enabled to discern truth.  To know the truth is to know more than that this world belongs to God or that he sent Jesus Christ into the world.  It is to understand that we are sinners, incapable of redeeming ourselves.  It is to know that Christ atoned for our sin and reconciled us to the Father.  It is to accept the plan of God for our future and the future of this world.

  178. Thank you.

  179. Matthias, Jon and Dan, thank you. Matthias, I have your link bookmarked and I will review.

    -
     

    Carol, you did not direct your question at me, but I will venture a contribution. It builds on Dan’s point above where he states, “I think much too often, the lack of the Church acting like it should, and the lack of professed Christians acting like we should, causes others to turn away from the God of the Bible.”

    -
     

    As Paul became a Greek to the Greeks, so should we understand the framework from which others operate. To tie this to Dan’s point, there is a paucity of robust intelligent heft in many fields dominatated by secular thought and since those fields hum along  just fine without Christianity, Christianity is easily dismissed..An hint into that worldview happened earlier in this thread in Eric’s pivot to the death of Alan Turing, an icon of the field of computer science.

    -

    By engaging Eric on his own turf, I hoped I could reason with him to a rational acceptance of the Christian world view. To do this, I saw his Utilitarianism as an approach worth using.
    Back to Dan’s point; it is ,in  my view this is being corrected. Behe and Dembski in the ID field challenging the secular religion of Darwinism; Paster Wilson debating Hitchenson and Sullivan, William Lane Craig in debate and apologetics. There are some fine minds in challenging fields that are both good at that field, but also un-abashadly Christian.  Instead of ignorant yahoos in pulpits spouting pablum, we have first-rate intellects engaging the lost on their own turf.

    -
     

    That said, it is always, first and last about Christ crucified and risen, never about intellect.

  180. Jon, well said.  The only word I would change is “enlightened” to “illumined” – but I may just be nitpicking here. :)  I completely agree that it is the Holy Spirit who illumines us to the truth of Christ and the truth that the Bible is the Word of God.  In my prior comments, I have been discussing a lot about “general revelation” for philosophical purposes, to help explain the theistic worldview.  And the doctrine of general revelation is clearly grounded in Scripture, in Romans chapters 1 and 2.  However, theologically speaking, regarding the doctrine of soteriology (i.e. salvation), I believe that only the Holy Spirit can regenerate a sinner and bring him to repentance and faith. 

  181. I believe that only the Holy Spirit can regenerate a sinner and bring him to repentance and faith.
     

    And that is key. If we can convince  the sinner to “knock on the door” the Holy Spirit will be able to do its work. If Eric, in his unbelief where to say “God, I don’t believe in you, if you are there, let me know” He will answer–probably in one of those completely unconsidered ways He enjoys doing things for us. So, dang-it. If I have to become a Utilitarian to get Eric to knock, Utilitarianism it is.

  182. Eric, I’m sure you’re feeling a bit ganged up here on this site, so my apologies for that.  I’m sure you can understand that many of us who frequent this site are coming from a Biblical, Christian worldview, and we are willing to defend it, both from a Biblical standpoint and even from a philosophical standpoint.  So we mean no disrespect to your non-Christian worldview.  It doesn’t mean we think your worldview is true – we don’t – but please don’t take it personally.  I hope through all of these discussions, you’ll at least be open to challenging your presuppositions and see where they inevitably lead to, in order to maintain a logically consistent and coherent worldview.  As I mentioned in a prior comment, the fact that Christians throughout history have not always acted as Christ would have them act, is not the fault of Christ but of His imperfect and fallible followers.  I hope someday you’re open to the truth of Christ and what only Christ can offer – grace, forgiveness, and peace. 

  183. This is my hope for you too, Eric, and is in my prayers for you.  I have a lot of respect and gratitude to you for staying in this long run of a “debate.”  I have learned so much over the past few days just by following the different threads of the discussion.  It has been really worthwhile  to follow. I don’t get the chance too often to be a part of something like this and feel really blessed by it.

  184. Thanks, Dan.  I’ve always been tempted to use enlighten and illumine interchangeably, and I don’t know the exact difference.  As far as regeneration and faith goes, that’s a relationship that’s not understood unanimously.  The problem with the strict relationship you mention is that, first of all, it’s not accepted by all Protestant Evangelical scholars.  Therefore, it’s probably not very straightforward.  Secondly, if regeneration precedes faith and regeneration only comes to some, that what’s the point of any of this?  If you play that out it becomes really absurd—a lot more absurd than you think. 

  185. Matthias, yes, people and societies often make bad or uninformed choices as to what is actually good for them, but that is a separate issue from whether a desire to live in peace and prosperity is an adequate foundation for morality.  You’re quibbling over details, not fundamentals.  Timothy, I already did say, God, if you’re there, show yourself to me.  In case you’re not aware of it, I used to be one of you, and my atheism was not lightly arrived at.  Dan, I’m commenting on a Christian blog, so of course I’m going to be ganged up on; that comes with the territory.  I will say that for the most part, you guys are far more polite than commenters on various atheist blogs whenever a Christian shows up, and I appreciate the mostly civil responses I’ve gotten back.  I hope you at least understand my position even if you don’t agree with it.

  186. Here was how the problem was simply put to me, if I can jump in on this part:  Why should I want to live in peace, prosperity and happiness?  You say that some of us want to, but I don’t actually think that is true, I would say people operate on the principle of, I want more. Regardless, why should I personally want to live in the peace, prosperity and happiness that you and your fellows think we should have? 

  187. Jon, thanks for your feedback.  I am a Calvinist in the sense that I hold to the Reformed view of salvation.  About 20 years ago, I came to accept this view, not because it comes naturally (it really doesn’t), or because it comes easily (it is rather difficult), but because I believe it’s what the Bible actually teaches.  Thus, I came to the conclusion that I have to believe what the Bible teaches about salvation, not what I wish it would teach.  Having said that, I have outlined below the Biblical, Reformed view of salvation in a nutshell. 
    While the Reformed perspective does emphasize God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation, nowhere does God’s sovereignty mitigate man’s responsibility.  It is true that God is sovereign, and the Bible affirms this.  If God is not sovereign, then He would be less than God.  It is also true that man is free, albeit in a limited sense, and man is responsible for his actions.  The Bible affirms this too.  Man is truly guilty, in spite of the fact that God is sovereign.  Therein lies the mystery.  This mystery is difficult to reconcile philosophically within our limited, finite minds, but I believe it nonetheless, because it’s what the Bible teaches.  
     
    Regarding man’s salvation, it is all by God’s sovereign grace, from beginning to end.  Man in his natural, unregenerate state remains under the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13) and under God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18, Eph. 2:3).  Man is spiritually dead in his sins (Eph. 2:1) and is in active rebellion against God (Col 1:21).  Therefore, man cannot choose God or the gospel of Christ; God must choose man (John 6:44, 65).  Hence, the Reformed doctrines of unconditional election and effectual calling, whereby man is elected, called, and regenerated by God’s efficacious grace through the work of the Holy Spirit, so that man will believe and choose the gospel of Christ.  Without rebirth, man has no desire for Christ.  Without a desire for Christ, man will not choose Christ.  Man will not seek God as He is (Rom. 3:11) apart from God’s special grace and divine calling.  Thus, the Holy Spirit must first awaken and illuminate the truth of Christ in man’s heart, in order for man’s desire to turn toward Christ.  Once this work of regeneration takes place, man will, by his own faith and volition, choose the gospel of Christ.  The guiding principle here is that regeneration “precedes” faith, since the sinner is passive in the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.  Without the Spirit, man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14).  
      
    How God works His efficacious grace in man is a mystery, known ultimately only by God, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2).  Certainly, the Bible gives us a road map; but how the Holy Spirit works, behind the scenes, is truly a mystery and a miracle of epic proportions.  Also, it is important to recognize that God is not obligated to give grace to anyone (Rom. 9:15, 11:35).  God gives grace to whom He wills (John 5:21, 6:39) for His glory and purpose (Rom. 8:28, 9:23).  I readily admit that not everyone in the Evangelical community agrees with the Reformed view of salvation, yet I think it’s difficult to refute from a Biblical standpoint.  However, I will also state that I’m not dogmatic about this.  Whether someone holds to a Reformed view, or an Arminian view, or somewhere in between, I believe the main thing is to come to Christ.

  188. katecho,
    You seem to be drawing a distinction between the visible sins and the invisible sins. Perhaps you’d like to pass laws requiring people to wear their sins on lapel badges: pink triangles, scarlet “A”s, gold stars. That way Christian proprietors would never have to ask awkward questions before deciding to refuse service to immoral people. I’m glad that you acknowledge that these sins are equivalent.
    Now if half of all “traditional” weddings involve partners who have had premarital sex, and 2% of all weddings are between same-sex partners, then 49/51 “sinful” weddings come from heterosexual relationships. When you’re going after the gay people, you’re not actually going after the source of all those sinful couplings. It’s like the titanic. The invisible iceberg is the problem, not the visible tip.
    Regarding the issue of leading the weaker brother into sin (meat/idols and all). In case you haven’t heard, it’s nearly impossible to turn a straight person gay. Try it out yourself. Try to develop an intimate emotional & sexual relationship with a member of the same sex. It won’t work for you. Baking cakes for gay weddings will not lead any heterosexual Christians to suddenly discover they are gay. On the other hand, the persistent drumbeat of anti-gay slurs that you find in places like Bryan Fischer’s twitterstream does lead weaker Christians into sin. You may not be homophobic or hateful to gay people, but I have many Christian relatives who definitely are hateful to gay people. The thing is, these Christian relatives don’t know the Gospel; they can’t recite the Ten Commandments; they don’t know a word of any historic Christian creed; but they know that evolution ain’t true and homosexuality is against nature. And do they ever hate gay people. How’s that for leading the weaker brother into sin?
    Quit preaching the law and get on the gospel already. If you want to get gay people to hear your version of the gospel: go their weddings, join their baseball teams, go to church with them.
    Regarding the message on the cake. Read the opinion, and the explanation. The judge allows that the baker could have refused to write an offensive message on the cake. This would also allow the baker to refuse to decorate a cake in the sexually explicit fashion that is popular in some circles these days. The issue here is the refusal to sell a cake without regard to the manner of decoration.
    This case is a civil case, not a criminal one. Also, there was no evidence presented in the case as both sides stipulated to all the facts. At issue was only the interpretation of the law, not whether the Respondent did the thing alleged in the complaint.  I was wrong to speak of motivation, and the judge in the case was prudent to not address motivation. I was also wrong to mention speech, hate speech or otherwise, as the judge correctly determined that speech was not at issue in this case.
    The judge was correct to compare this ruling to a 30-year old ruling where BJU attempted to use the 1st amendment defence to deny admission to a bi-racial married couple.
    FWIW, my entire pre-K to 12 education happened at Christian educational institutions. So if you’re concerned about the quality of civics education circa 20 years ago, don’t look to the public schools.

  189. I wanted to reply to Mrs, Mac’s and Timothy’s comments about the anti-gay legislation passed in Uganda a few days ago–which has been widely denounced even by groups such as Focus on the Family.  Unfortunately, it has been praised by a few other leaders as a model for America.  Mrs. Mac quotes Defend the Family as saying that the only homosexually-related deaths that have occurred in Uganda have been suffered by Christians presumably at the hands of gays.  A person who does not know Ugandan history would be led by this quotation to assume that Ugandan gays are currently killing Christians.  The deaths referred to here occurred in 125 years ago when the Ugandan king martyred young male pages who worked in his palace and refused his sexual advances.  On the other hand, since the fine work of the American evangelists in whipping up anti-gay frenzy in Uganda, gays have been attacked and terrorized.   A Ugandan newspaper printed the names and addresses of 100 gays under the headline “Hang them.”   Somebody obligingly bludgeoned to death David Kato, Ugandan teacher and gay activist.  Of course, this is by no means as terrible a violation of civil rights as asking an American baker to make a cake for a gay wedding.  Timothy, I read through Hansard, which provides a verbatim report of the Ugandan parliament, for the debates and discussions through 2012.  I also read as many press reports as I could find.  I did not find any specific reference to fears that gay men with HIV are having sex with children in the belief that it will cure the disease.  Because AIDS in Uganda (and indeed in all of sub-Saharan Africa) is primarily a heterosexual disease, targeting gay sex offenders would not be the most useful solution.  However, the government has expressed concern about gay sex tourists exploiting young people, especially the large number of orphans who lack care and supervision.  But most of the statements I have read (and the text of the bill itself, which is easily accessible on line) suggest that the dominant reason is to increase criminal penalties for homosexual acts, to provide definitions so broad  (e.g. the homosexual offense “touching”) that it would be difficult to prove innocence. and to require that everyone who has contact with gays become a police informer.  Did you know that under this law pastors who counsel gays must report them to the authorities?  So must doctors, landlords, counselors, and teachers.  A pastor who does not betray the confidence of his parishioner faces a seven prison term.  I guess that doesn’t count as persecuting Christians because it is done in the name of wiping out gays.  I think that the point raised by Eric has been obscured by the focus on exploring his ethical system in general.   This is an interesting endeavor but I wish we could also discuss the concern he raised.  Americans such as Scott Lively led anti-gay conferences in Uganda and, intentionally or not, lit a match to a homophobic society’s fears and hatreds.  Are we surprised when American gays recoil in fear from Christians who seem to share Mr. Lively’s legislative goals?  When we consider how the activities of American Christians have threatened the lives of Ugandan gays, can we expect anyone to think we have a leg to stand on when we claim that Christians are being persecuted over wedding cakes?

  190. Jill, thank you for eloquently elaborating what I had only mentioned.  And I think the reason for the focus on my ethical system in general is precisely to that questions such as those you raise can be ignored.

  191. If what is “good” is determined by the society, it’s difficult to tell how a society can make a decision that’s bad for them. With everything you’re saying you’re implying there’s more to it than society that determines morality, while at the same time holding society to a moral standard. This is double-talk.

    …a desire to live in peace and prosperity is an adequate foundation for morality.

    Desire can be directed toward opposing things. Yet there are some things I’m sure you would say are not to be desired. This presupposes a higher standard than mere desire. By subjecting “desire” to such value as “good” or “bad” (“desireable” or “undesireable”), you’re either speaking tautologously or saying something higher than desire is required. And so no, desire is not an adequate foundation on its own because even it must rest on something. Christians as well as atheists desire to live in peace and prosperity – it’s a very human characteristic. But the atheist’s desire to live in prosperity is borrowed from Christianity. It relies on Christianity’s truth to be intelligible. Trust me ;)

  192. Jill, the focus is made on the failure of Eric’s ethical system precisely because if we grant his system in principle, he has no justification to condemn anything that the society called Uganda has decided to do with its own people. He still does condemn it, of course, and loudly at that. But this means even he finds his ethical system to be lacking, and he should abandon it.

  193. Jill,
     
    Clause 3 of the  Ugandan law protects innocent children for the predations of homosexuals. Why do you hate Ugandan children, Jill?*

    -
     

     

    Given the activism of the Homosexual left, I have come to the conclusion it is best to believe nothing they say. They, like their father, the father of lies, lie as a matter of strategy and tactics (see Shephard, Mathew).
    I also do not trust simple web searches for information on say, Wikipedia, Bing or Google.
    I spent part of Christmas researching that law and you will notice that the information there is overwhelmingly pro-homosexualist.
    Its a tactic the Left uses to limit what we see and how we interpret facts (See Santorum, Rick for an example of this).

        -
     

    Looking at the text of the law (I provided several  PDF link earlier in this thread to it. one at Patheos.com and the other at some gay sight). I approve of the law  wholeheartedly.
     

        -

    Earlier in this thread, I defended that law on Eric’s own Utilitarian grounds (a philosophy I do not share). Here it is:

    -

     

    Argument P. 

    1. A Utilitarian desires the greatest “good” for the greatest number of people.

    2. Without children, there are no people for whom to maximize the greatest good, therefore, the good of the greatest number of people warrants the protection of children.

    3. Clause 3 of the Ugandan law specifically penalizes homosexuals in the case of HIV positive men having sex with children. Thereby increasing the greater good.

    4. Clause 3 of the Ugandan law is valid under Utilitarian principles.

    5. The Utilitarian principle of maximizing the greater good requires stigmatizing homosexual behavior   .
     

        -
     

    There is one case. How about Evolutionary grounds? Care to defend the survival prospects of a group that does not protect its offspring?

       

    -

     
    Since, by your logic, my supporting that law on both Utilitarian and Evolutionary grounds means I am support threatening the lives of Ugandan gays, then so be it. Why do you hate philosphy, Jill?*

        -
     

    Now let me speak as an individual. If I found a man raping a child, I would kill the man on the spot. By your logic, I am guilty of a hate crime. I agree with the ‘hate’ part. I do hate evil.
    Where we disagree is the ‘crime’ part.

    -
     

    Finally, your argument that “Christians are already so far down the slippery slope, Why don’t you get with the program and keep sliding!” Falls on deaf ears with me.
    In my lifetime, I have seen the innocence of my country betrayed and I do not like it. I am going back up that God-damned slope (for it is God damned) and to the top of that mountain. I am wearing boots with long spikes on them and I enjoy stepping on things that try to push me the other way. There is however, a caveat to that anger; When I find a weaker soul trying to climb back up the mountain, I will put them on my
    back, if necessary to help them as well. By God’s grace some of those souls will be repentant gays.

    * The phrases “Why do you hate x” where put in there to illustrate the tactic of putting Christians on the defensive. Rather annoying, isn’t it?

     

  194. I think it is time to stop tip toeing around the issue as if somehow homosexuality is just any ole ordinary sin like lying or disobeying parents. It is a very grievous sin and Americans have come to believe lies regarding it.

         

    1) That  people are born gay. That it is in their genes. Given the appeal to science that many use to make “rational” arguments, the fact that science has not discovered a gay gene, should make them pause. But it really only shows that appeals to science are only used to bolster one’s moral world view, and when science deviates from that world-view it becomes jettisoned very quickly.

        

    2) That gay relationships are healthy. They are not. http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/why_i_cannot_blame_russia_and_india_for_taking_on_the_gays.html

        

    3) That gay people cannot be changed. It is a sin just like anything else, and we have a Savior who has overcome sin. I personally know multiple men who have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 6:11 - And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

       

    The absolute worst thing we can do as Christians and as a society is to be accepting of homosexuality. It is a sin and a sickness that needs to be treated. We wouldn’t tell a drug addict that what they do is fine and should be celebrated. We seek to get them help and see that what they are doing is hurting themselves and the ones they love. 

  195. Correction, The slippery slope argument was not made by Jill, it was made by Michael D.

  196. ” Timothy, I already did say, God, if you’re there, show yourself to me.  In case you’re not aware of it, I used to be one of you, and my atheism was not lightly arrived at. ”
     

    Eric, my path was the same. Young believer, disgust at the pablum of Christianity,  massive rebellion, decades as a reprobate s.o.b. Then  the Lord took a clue-bat upside my head.  Now I am talking stuff that a decade ago I would have dismissed as nonsense.
    The hound-of-heaven will hunt you down.

  197. Matthias, you still have no real grasp of utilitarianism.  Good is not determined by society.  If society thinks it’s a good idea to gas Jews, that doesn’t change the fact that gassing Jews is objectively bad for society.  What Uganda is doing to gays is objectively bad for Ugandan society (as well as for the gays themselves).  The problem isn’t that my ethical system is a failure; it’s that you either don’t understand, or persist in misrepresenting, my ethical system.

  198. Eric,
     
    How is protecting children from the predations of HIV infected homosexual men objectively bad for society?
     
     

  199. Timothy, whatever small percentage of the population is gay, there is absolutely no threat to humanity that the remaining heterosexuals will fail to be fruitful and multiply.  I agree that having sex with children should be (and is) a crime, but that is not a problem on which the gays have cornered the market.  And by stigmatizing homosexuals, you marginalize their existence and prevent them from living up to their full potential; who knows what great things Alan Turing might have accomplished if he hadn’t been hounded to an early grave.  People who are stigmatized are far more likely to create other social problems than people who are integrated into society.
     
     

  200. Timothy, in sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is largely a heterosexual phenomenon.  If all the Ugandan law did was to make pedophilia a crime, I would have no issue with it. But it doesn’t; it goes after any homosexual, whether he’s having sex with children or not.

  201. Clause 3 of the law specifically targets predators in positions of power. Do you oppose that?

  202. Actually, forget my last comment. You have admitted that on Utilitarian grounds, it can be good to stigmatize and punish homosexual behavior. ‘Look, squirrel!’ is not an argument I am interested in.

  203. Simply put, then, your view is not strictly Utilitarian, Eric. There is no “objectively” with respect to Utility, under utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an attempt to circumvent notions of objectivity. I may not understand your system, Eric, insofar as you deviate from utilitarianism to varying degrees, but I understand utilitarianism. What constitutes “good” and “bad” actions is a concern for Ethics, of which Utilitarianism is simply one attempt at an explanation. Your behavior reflects what’s called “expressivism.” This explains that tendency of people to use moral terms to express a [merely] personal evaluation of a thing, rather than make a statement of fact concerning it. To make a statement of fact, of course, require some basis to do so. Expressivism represents a linguistic difficulty stemming from an epistemological one.

     Good is not determined by society.  If society thinks it’s a good idea to gas Jews, that doesn’t change the fact that gassing Jews is objectively bad for society.

    I understand you can articulate that distinction as a concept, but you lack the epistemic wherewithal to make an actual distinction between the two. This is not intended to be an insult to you personally, but only to highlight the piecemeal (and hence haphazard) nature of your approach to this. Whose society determines what is good (read, “possesses the most [average? total?] utility”)  for whose society? To what extent do we consider which aspects of a society off of which to build a workable definition of “good”? I think any answer to those would end up begging the question, necessarily.

  204. So Eric, tell us, sincerely because I want to understand. How do you believe “good” is established?  Is it a priori?

  205. Suppose that my body (which I will use as a metaphor for society) craves junk food that will make me fat, give me high blood pressure, and cause heart disease.  As you understand utilitarianism, I should therefore pig out on junk food because that’s what the body wants.  However, that is not an accurate representation of utilitarianism.  Utilitarianism says that objectively, heart disease and high blood pressure are not good things, no matter how badly the body may crave the foods that cause them, and the appropriate choice for the body to make is for the greater good – avoiding high blood pressure and obesity through proper diet.  And the question of whether heart disease and high blood pressure are good things isn’t a subjective inquiry; that question has only one right answer, and it’s purely objective.  It’s also not subject to popular vote.  Likewise, society may want to gas Jews, but that is not what is ultimately good for society.  The long term costs of it are enormous.

  206. In the case of Uganda, none of the concerns Timothy raises – protecting children from HIV and sexual abuse, ensuring there are enough people to continue the human race – is furthered by this law.  Pedophilia is, presumably, already illegal there, and heterosexuals are continuing to reproduce like bunny rabbits, so being nasty to gay people won’t actually accomplish anything of value.  On the other hand, the cost to society of having a marginalized subgroup is huge.  So from a utilitarian standpoint, the law fails on both counts.  It accomplishes nothing of value, and causes harm.  And yes, I do support criminal sanctions for people in power who abuse children, regardless of their sexual orientation.

  207. Timothy, I think you are being a little unfair.  Nothing I said in my two posts can be construed as support for the decriminalization of adult-child sex.  If the purpose of the Ugandan legislation was to strengthen criminal penalties for raping a child (regardless of the offender’s gender, orientation, or HIV status), you would find no complaint from me.  Such a legislative purpose could have been achieved without clauses intended to track down homosexuals and lock them away for life.  You say you support this law.  Do you believe that homosexual conduct between consenting adults is so heinous as to justify life in prison?  Do you believe that the crime is so wicked that the Ugandan law is correct in abolishing clergy-penitent confidentiality in order to entrap any homosexual who turns to his church for help?  Would you support this draconian approach to suppress all sexual sins (adultery, statutory rape) or is it only homosexual sins that deserve special harshness?  Do you believe that Uganda’s approach is required by Biblical Christianity, and should it be a model for us as American Christians?  If this bill were the only way to protect children from the likelihood of homosexual rape, that would be one thing.  But it isn’t.  This bill is much more about creating a society in which no one will dare to contemplate, much less engage in, homosexual conduct.  I suppose I can’t understand why that goal is so desirable as to justify any amount of repression and injustice.

  208. And back to the Warehouse Full of Guile we go!

    -

    “none of the concerns Timothy raises – protecting children from HIV and sexual abuse, ensuring there are enough people to continue the human race – is furthered by this law. ” This is false. Even if pederasty where not primarily a homosexual predilection, singling out homosexuals would reduce–i.e. further–the cause of protecting children from sexual abuse.Logically, if A and B are causing harm to C and I remove B from the picture, the harm to C is reduced.
     

    -
     

    ‘The cost to society of having a marginalized subgroup is huge’. Ok, what are the benefits provided to society by the marginalized subgroup we call murderers?

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    “So from a utilitarian standpoint, the law fails on both counts.  It accomplishes nothing of value, and causes harm”  it fails on neither count.

  209. You know what, let’s turn Eric’s Utilitarianism around.
    Eric, what is the cost to Ugandan society of marginalizing its majority Christian population?
     
     

  210. So then E, the “good” fluctuates as to what knowledge we have since our human knowledge is limited.  We cannot ever escape our subjectivity as Nagel (spider in the bathroom story) clearly wrote about. We will always be human at the very least.  I am an American, a woman etc etc… it is impossible for me or you to be objective, so how can we ever make a decision about what would be objectively good.

  211. So then E, the “good” fluctuates as to what knowledge we have since our human knowledge is limited.  We cannot ever escape our subjectivity as Nagel (spider in the bathroom story) clearly wrote about. We will always be human at the very least.  I am an American, a woman etc etc… it is impossible for me or you to be objective; so how can we ever make a decision about what would be objectively good?

  212. Dan, thanks for the explanation of your view concerning faith adn regeneration.  I was familiar with that, but you said it rather well.  I just don’t buy it.  Your right: it doesn’t come easily or naturally as you read the text.  I think it’s a scholastic move on the part of Calvinists.  It makes far more sense to say that faith comes first.  I think that God, in his sovereignty, limits his sovereignty.  He creates space for his creation to interact with him adn to accept or reject him.  I believe in libertarian freewill becauce that’s the only freewill that is really free and entirely responsible, and capable of accepting and rejecting God.  Also, it is the only freewill that adequately makes sense of life.  Otherwise, as I said, there is no point in doing anything, including having this discussion.  I don’t think most Calvinists are very consistent with their understanding of TULIP to where they face that futility head-on, but that’s its arrival point. 

  213. Timothy, if A and B both harm C, and the overwhelming majority of the population is A, wouldn’t it make more sense to remove A from the population if your actual concern is to protect C?  You are wrong, by the way, that pedophilia is primarily homosexual; statistically most of it takes place within the home and is male/female.  Murderers harm society; homosexuals don’t, but even in that case if you have a murderer seeking redemption society would be better off letting him find it.  And I haven’t heard anyone suggest marginalizing Uganda’s Christians (unless you consider not permitting them to bully gay people to be marginalizing) but if someone did, those costs would be pretty large as well.

  214. No, Carole, good is objective even if our understanding is flawed.  If I believed that obesity were good for me, it still wouldn’t be.

  215. “Timothy, if A and B both harm C, and the overwhelming majority of the population is A, wouldn’t it make more sense to remove A from the population if your actual concern is to protect C? ”
    Look! Squirrel!.
    You constantly evade direct answers to simple questions.
    You …

    “…constantly practice (your) form of the bait and switch, and every once in a while (you) get caught. And every once in a great while, (you) get caught with half the country looking on. When this happens, (your) attempts to explain (yourself) usually attain to the level of “Uh, aliens kidnapped me. What year is it?””
     

     

  216. I am willing to go further than Eric and to say that I can imagine circumstances in which homosexual behavior can threaten society.  I will also say that in my personal observation, gay sex has not destabilized families and harmed children to the same extent as parents who break their wedding vows and abandon their children.  If we meant what we say about protecting children, we would not be tolerating a divorce rate of nearly 50% for first marriages.  But even so, I concede that gay sex can be disruptive to a social order based on rigid sexual orthodoxy.   Like all sexual conduct, it is destructive to the young, the victimized, and those who cannot give consent.   It is wrong if it is used as a weapon in the hands of the powerful in order to secure the compliance of the weak.   In a theocratic state where all sins are by definition crimes, gay sex is obviously intensely odious to the ruling caste.  None of these considerations leads me to believe that imprisoning every homosexual offender for life is a measured, reasonable or ethical response to whatever threat he poses to the social order.   Uganda has staggering amounts of heterosexual rape and domestic violence.  Does anyone here think that American evangelists would be jumping on a crusade to help Ugandan girls raped by heterosexual men?  Would anyone care stopping “corrective rape” in which Ugandan women perceived as lesbians are raped in the hope of making them straight?  I think the nexus of American evangelists and Ugandan politicians is an unholy alliance based on a rabid hostility to gays–a hostility made far more toxic by a belief that it has been authorized by God Himself.   If this is not frightening to American gays, it should be.

  217. I do not think one can achieve sanctity through law.  Grace always precedes law as we learn from the story of Abraham, and in fact, from the story of the Fall.  Long before the Mosaic law was issued, God graciously invited people into his presence.  I agree the only reason the homosexual law can be passed is because the Ugandan climate was opposed to homosexuality, probably for ideosyncratic reasons that have little to nothing to do wtih our theological understanding.  So representatives from a segment of the church have decided to side with only one among many laws in a distant country on the other side of the globe.  It makes no sense to me.  One gets the feeling that a point was made, and that’s about it.  We are in the business of communicating an understanding—an entire picture of reality—a longterm plan that God invites us to take part in, and that plan reaches well beyond what two people of the same sex might do or not do in their bedroom.  Why reduce our noble task to siding with people that probably don’t even grasp this in order to score a point that can be quickly lost anyway—for no other foundation can anyone lay than that is laid, i.e. Jesus Christ.  Our work will not stand up on anything else.

  218. But how can I know the objective good with my finite self? Obesity is bad for the body, we all agree…now.  It used to be a sign of wealth, considered attractive etc.  We didn’t know what we know now.  We don’t have, The View From Nowhere.  We don’t, but He does.  How can we ever act for the objective good when we cannot escape our subjective selves?

  219. Jill,
    I agree with most of what you say. We probably disagree on what to do about it.

  220. Jill,
    I am not sure where you are going with this line.  Let’s say you are completely correct and that SOME Christians have joined together with some politicians and are behaving in a horribly sinful way.  Thus, homosexuals should now be Christianphobic?  And they therefore have every right to violate the rights of Christians here in the US?  Even if those rights seem small, and petty in comparison, are we to give into phobia of any kind and dismiss them?

  221. Jon, thanks for your feedback regarding the Calvinist view of salvation.  I agree, it is very difficult to accept.  However, as much as it may not make sense from our natural way of thinking, we need to adhere to what the Bible teaches, not what we want it to teach.  The mystery and the tension cannot merely be resolved philosophically, as anyone who delves into this issue will readily discover.  Moreover, there’s an important point that needs to be made concerning the controversial nature of the doctrine of unconditional election (i.e. whether God “chooses” to elect some people and not others).  Many people think this doctrine makes God seem unfair or unjust, as well as violate man’s freedom to accept or reject the gospel.  While this is admittedly a very difficult doctrine to accept, even if we don’t accept it, the alternative isn’t much better.  If God doesn’t “choose” anyone, but He leaves it completely up to us to choose Him, the fact is, some people will still end up in Hell.  Thus, it begs the question, “If God knew beforehand I would not choose Him, and I end up in Hell, then why did He allow me to be born in the first place?”  You see, it doesn’t really let God off the hook.  One could ask, “Is that fair?  Is that just?”  So a third option is to consider a more “open” view of God, whereby God doesn’t always know in advance what events will take place until they occur, and thus He doesn’t know who will choose Him until they do.  While this option may let God “off the hook” so to speak, it completely undermines His sovereignty, plus it makes God contingent on His creation.  In my mind, any such view of God is not really God at all, and clearly the Bible does not portray this lesser view of God.  Therefore, we’re back to the age old dilemma of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, and how this plays out.  The Bible asserts both of these realities, but it does not really reconcile them, at least not in a way that our finite minds will be satisfied.  However, we need to be reminded of the Doxology in Rom. 11:33-36.    

    “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!  Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been His counselor?  Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.”  

  222. I’ll take the challenge levied to Eric on the utilitarianism reversal. Every Christian in North America is better off now that messages of opposition to biracial marriage no longer flow from the mouths of Christian pastors. Every Christian in Uganda will be better off when Ugandan pastors quit preaching messages of hate towards homosexuals to their flocks.

  223. Don’t persecute all homosexuals because some of them are taking advantage of young boys.  But do be fearful of all Christians because some of them aren’t behaving rationally or Christ like, …not very fair, logical or tolerant, is it?

  224. No, it’s not a look squirrel let’s change the subject.  It’s pointing out that the solution you’re offering doesn’t address the problem.  But that’s because what you’re claiming is the problem isn’t the motivation for the law.  The law was not motivated by a desire to protect children; it was motivated by a desire to harm homosexuals, and children are just an excuse.  And in fact it doesn’t help children, at least not much.  Overwhelmingly, pedophilia is intra-family incest.  Statistically, the gay couple next door poses far less risk to children than their own male family members, so removing B from the population wouldn’t accomplish that much.

  225. Jill, I should have been more clear in my previous post.  Some homosexual behavior harms society, just as some heterosexual behavior harms society, but not because it’s homosexual or heterosexual.  An adult having sex with children is harming society, regardless of the genders involved.  Irresponsible sex that produces sexually transmitted disease, babies that the parents aren’t ready to have, that harms society, but not because it’s straight people or gay people that are doing it. 

  226. Carole, I haven’t heard anyone say to persecute all Christians.  What I have heard, and agree with, is to be very leery of Christianism attaining political power in the United States, because we see in Uganda what happens when it does.
     

  227. Carole, “how can I know the objective good with my finite self?” I can’t, and I’m okay with that. My inability to know the objective good does not mean it does not exist, just as my inability to count the stars in the universe does not mean they are not countable. The process of learning to know the objective good mirrors the process of learning to count the stars in the universe. We extend our finite selves by making observations. First we make them haphazardly, then more systematically, then we improve the instruments for making observations. We share our observations with other people, and compare results, thus further extending our finite selves. We use these observations to make predictions about future observations. Etc.
     
    But Good cannot be observed, you might insist. I say that we measure many things that cannot be observed directly. We use approximations that we know are imperfect. What makes me happy is good (as a rough first approximation only, not as an existential truth). The voice on TV says the hamburger will make me happy. It did, but not for very long. Maybe the hamburger isn’t very good after all. Wise men get together and record observations about what is good. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” they say. For thousands of years of human history, we believed that fear of punishment was good, and we trained children and animals according to this belief. But then we started making observations. Fear-based animal-training and child-rearing methods were not consistently producing well-behaved animals and children. Maybe there was another way. Animal behaviorists now agree that positive reinforcement based methods are better ways to train animals than punishment based methods. The same kinds of results apply to children. Skeptical parents have rejected punishment based child-rearing techniques, in favor of positive reinforcement, because these techniques produce happier, more well-behaved children. Good is still a lot harder to measure and define than it is to count stars. But most of us don’t let that stop us from trying.

  228. Michael, since we are only learning, and observing and hopefully getting closer to truth or the objective good, how do you know right now, it wouldn’t be better to persecute any given class of people?  What if we find out in years to come after much observation and trial and error that it was good to eliminate a segment of society, and actually, how will we even really know then?
     

  229. EtR, I said fearful  not persecute, but more importantly, how do I, today, as an American woman, know what choices I should make so as to do the objective good for all the people on Earth. I want to do what is right.  I want peace and prosperity for everyone; so please tell me where do I find the list of the objectively good way to live?

  230. Michael D.
     

    I’ll take the challenge levied to Eric on the utilitarianism reversal. Every Christian in North America is better off now that messages of opposition to biracial marriage no longer flow from the mouths of Christian pastors. Every Christian in Uganda will be better off when Ugandan pastors quit preaching messages of hate towards homosexuals to their flocks.
     
    -

     
     
    Let’s ignore your pivot to bi-racial marriage and just focus on your logic in your last point.We have gone from Patriarch Robertson, to bakers who will not bake to Ugandan’s who will not sodomize, let’s start to unwind it back the other way before we go down the next rabbit hole.
     

    -

     
    What is the basis for you claim that every Ugandan Christian will be better off? Have you asked them?
     
     

  231. So here in lies the problem…the age old problem and why ultimately everyone has faith and therefore everyone has a god.  Michael, it sounds like your god is man’s reason.  You believe, without certainty, that empirical evidence and reason will get you closer to the objective truth, since obviously we do not know it now and have not known it in the past.  That is a faith.  And a faith implies a god.   I do not rely on man’s reason as a god. I have seen how empirical evidence and reason give faulty conclusions.  My faith rests with the one true living God.  You may not believe in my Lord, but I equally do not believe in yours.  You are no more tolerant of mine than I am of yours, and all the shouting out in the world that you want to be tolerant does not make that actually come to pass.  As close as I can tell, Eric has faith that his desire to be good will ultimately make him good.  So he has faith in man’s desires…I think that will be difficult to flush out…when can desires be trusted and when can they not, and why do we have trustworthy desires in the first place???  But no matter what, it all comes down to faith.  I have faith that the Bible is true.  In the Bible, homosexuality is a sin, whether it makes people feel badly to hear it or not.  I am sorry that we struggle with sin. I wish I could have a pass on it too, frankly, but we do.  However, there is hope…there is good news!!

  232. Michael D.
     

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    Let me complete your thought. We all know you did not ask the Ugandan Christians what they thought. You made the mistake of letting your true intentions be shown. Silly heathen.
     

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    Your intention is to force the Christian to bake that ‘wedding’ cake and when he does not, to punish him. That way , the Christian will be better off. But why stop there? Since the Christian is so much better off now that he must support homosexuality wouldn’t Christianity be even more better off  if ‘that problem sort of Christian’ did not exist? Of course it would! The world is such a better place without “that sort” of Christianity. The Christian resists, but, objectively we know he is wrong to do so. Let’s end the problem once and for all and get on with our lives.
     
     

    We both know that this is not a debate. We both know this is a war. We have both know where the lines are. You want to separate me from my Lord?  Molon Labe.

  233. Timothy, Ugandan Christians will be better off when Uganda stops persecuting homosexuals for the same reason Southern whites were better off when Jim Crow ended.  Oppressing other people is costly, both to society and the individual oppressors.  In addition to the social costs I’ve already identified, doing hateful things to homosexuals makes it that much easier to do hateful things to other people too; once that genie has left the bottle it’s difficult to control her.  It produces more violence in society; it makes it easier to think of the oppressed group as sub-human; and it divides us into “us” and “them” rather than just “us”.  It causes talented members of the oppressed group to leave and take their talents with them.  It’s bad economics.  You keep talking as if the only people who suffer from anti-gay persecution are gays, but that just isn’t so.  And let’s not ignore the pivot to bi-racial marriage; race and sexual identity may not be the same thing, but prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.  You may be a nice person otherwise, but on this issue, you’re a Klansman without the bedsheets.

  234. And in response to your last post to Michael, I have no desire to eradicate Christians; just to not allow them to hurt other people.  You’re entitled to your opinion of homosexuality; that doesn’t mean society has to pay attention.  Fortunately, we’re at the point where it mostly no longer is.

  235. Eric , I assure you. I am not a nice person.
     
     

  236. Dan, your last response was interesting, but not entirely well thought out, I’m afraid.  There is no good way to really get things across let alone resolved in writing (and especially blogging), but I have to say I detect several false assumptions in what you wrote.  You say it is still unfair if God foresaw the people who would reject him and end in hell.  Why is that unfair?  Is this not the way to a meaningful universe?  Should we not be able to choose or reject God’s way and our destiny along with that?  The central problem here, I think, is that you view hell as a giant pig roast.  I think it’s more like what Lewis said: we choose our destiny and wouldn’t want it any other way.  Dante in his imagination had a better handle on hell, in all likelihood, than the revivalist preachers of the past three hundred years or so.  The people of his inferno hate God and love themselves, and throughout eternity they repeat their most loved/hated thing.  You also seem to think God cannot be sovereign without controlling everything in a very strict sense.  I don’t understand that.  I’m perfectly OK with the idea that God allows us to operate within a certain sphere with freedom.  In fact, I think that’s what creation means.  I think you pose false dilemmas and then bring Calvinism to the rescue because you already believe in it.  Look, I read the Institutes and studied Calvinism years back.  I looked at it pretty closely.  Much of what the man said was true.  The TULIP doesn’t make sense, though.  I don’t think people fully appreciate how problematic that really is.  Of course it reflects a philosophic option.  People will always be around who take it.  But i don’t find that option at all convincing.  I just think this all comes down to a terrible misunderstanding.   

  237. Why must we always talk about homosexuality?  Does any other sin bother bloggers besides sodomy?  Sometimes I think homosexuals function as something of a scapegoat. I  don’t like unholy sexual acts either, but it has become something of an obsession within some Christian circles, and that makes me a little suspicious.  I guess it’s the postmodern in me.  I think we need to start refocusing some of our attention onto other issues.  Corruption abounds today, so there are many of these issues to address.

  238. Carol, pushing this argument to the extremes results in an ethical dilemma.  If society makes a commitment to protect the civil rights of gays, there will be Christians in the business of providing public services who may be forced to violate their consciences by making cakes for gay weddings or leasing apartments to gay couples.  If society makes a commitment to impose a biblically Christian morality on all its members Christian or not, we may end up with a criminal justice system that imprisons gays for consensual, noncoercive sexual activity that does not involve children.  I don’t understand the worldview in which American Christian bakers are considered to be victims of serious persecution and Ugandan gays are not.  Fortunately we don’t generally live at the extremes of moral debates.  I don’t think there is a general need in this nation to fear persecution at the hands of Christians; however, I think that any thinking person must consider the Ugandan legislation as a warning against the dangers of theocracy.  As I have said previously, if I were gay I would view the Scott Livelys of this world with suspicion and alarm.  There is a huge difference between opposing homosexual conduct on religious grounds and wanting to imprison or execute its practitioners.   I accept that the legislation enacted in Uganda went far beyond what Lively envisioned.  I see this as all the more reason to be very cautious in using the kind of religious fervor that becomes inseparable from loathing and revulsion as the basis for criminal law.  However, I also have some sympathy for Christians who feel compelled by current law to violate their consciences.   I think that mutual fear and hostility may be pushing both sides to the extremes, and I think this is unnecessary.   If gays believe that, given half a chance, fundamentalist Christians will impose a Ugandan police state on them, of course they are going to fight tooth and nail to prevent it.   Every wedding cake becomes a fight to the death.  I have heard Christians speak mockingly of gays making lawsuits out of trifles, but if they cannot trust Christian intentions towards them, I think we have to expect that what we may see as trifles are battles they dare not lose.   I understand that Christians on the other side of these conflicts feel exactly the same way.   I wish both sides would dial down the rhetoric.  I wish there could be a greater understanding that in a secular society,  we don’t get to treat sins as crimes and that no one group has a corner on oppression.  Just as gay groups may be overreacting in assuming that every disputed wedding cake is the line in the sand that cannot be yielded, I think we overreact in assuming that every act of tolerance will result in people raping children and marrying their toasters.  Could we all consciously move toward the center:  accept that gays will sin in ways intolerable to fundamentalist Christians; accept that Christians will want to distance themselves from appearing to accept gay marriage. 

  239. I guess I am late to the party because I didn’t realize we were considering the baker to be a victim of serious persecution. However, I don’t think setting up this false comparison is helpful either, nor do I understand why it is being done?  Should I never mention my physical injuries since there are other people in this world who have far worse injuries.  Don’t complain about eating turnips when there are starving people in China… I think that the point of the baker is this is the kind of thing we were warned would happen if these laws went into effect and something to seriously consider as we change further laws from the guiding principles of the Christian faith to this  “nobody wants to name or explain it”  faith.     In addition, you speak of fear on one side as a rational response, but  a Christian’s concern always seems to be equated with hate.  That kind of rhetoric makes me very leery. The changes that are happening in this country are not ones pushing for theocracy, they are pushing for, for, for what? please don’t say tolerance! I am concerned where this will end since no one wants to discuss it.  What about polygamy and why not?  What about bi-sexual arrangements and why not?   What are the ethics we are living by with these changes?  What objective moral principles of right and wrong are we embracing, or are we just winging it?

  240. On a side note:  You mentioned, I believe, in an earlier post how much divorce has hurt children…I agree.  And that too was a long fought battle and has not helped the moral fabric of this nation.  I lived a good deal of my life in a country that did not have divorce. Since it has come in, I see the sad, sad results.  Michael mentioned how the new positive reinforcement techniques are producing better behaved, happier children and I nearly choked on my Christmas candy!  He cannot be serious!  Look around, children are so badly behaved!  Study after study has shown that the stickerification of America has not only led to unruly children both at home and school, but they are considerably less happy and have much less self esteem….and much of this is because parents are afraid to say no.  They are afraid to hurt their child’s feelings or make them feel badly.  They would rather put them on medication, gluten free diets, and get a spot on some Nanny show then be the horrible, intolerant parent who says NO.  That is the best example of where this “new ethic” is leading us of all!!

  241. Jon, thanks again for your feedback.  Like I said, it’s a difficult doctrine to accept.  But other than how you feel about it, are you able to support your “libertarian freewill” position biblically?  It doesn’t seem to square with what the Bible teaches.  This is why Luther and Calvin wrote fervently against the freewill position regarding man’s salvation, as did Augustine.  In my first comment about this, I provided numerous Scripture passages to support the Reformed view, and not just isolated ones.  Herein lies the problem with the freewill position:  If person A becomes saved and person B doesn’t, then why?  Was person A more moral?  Was he more humble?  Was he more intelligent?  Did he have more common sense?  Pick any one of these.  If salvation is solely due to man’s free will and man’s free choice, then ultimately his salvation is not by grace, but by his wise decision to choose; whereas person B did not make such a wise decision.  Does this picture of salvation sound like grace?  How do you get around this dilemma?  The reason the Reformed view makes sense to me is because it’s rooted in Scripture; it is not rooted in how I feel about it.  We must take seriously the myriad Bible passages that state that man is dead in his sins (i.e. spiritually dead).  Thus, how does man’s will (which is in bondage to sin), and man’s soul (which is spiritually dead), come to life except by the Holy Spirit drawing him?  This is the heart of the dilemma.  What are the other options?  Does the Holy Spirit draw man first, and then man does the rest on his own?  Does the Holy Spirit draw all men equally?  Does man take the first step, even before the Holy Spirit draws him?  It really makes you think.  But like I said, I completely understand the difficulty of accepting the Reformed doctrine, and it is not a doctrine that Christians should divide over.  Respectful debate, yes; but division, no.  Ultimately, what matters is people coming to Christ, however God ordains it.

  242. Carol. 

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    Well said.
     

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    Have you noticed where Jill now places the center? Two months ago, the center was we could disagree and maintain a civil space where conflicting views could be resolved peacefully. If the baker feels so strongly about it, then bake your own darn wedding cake and leave well enough alone. They cannot do that now so we have to get used to it. The ‘tolerance brigade’  will not stop until they are stopped.
     

    -
     

    The fundamental battle  here is with Sin with a capital ‘S’. Defined as Enmity towards God: This Enmity towards God is “…a positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will” as defined in Merriam Webster.  That hatred towards God goes all the way down. I know it intimately because  I once embraced it (living ‘authentically’, you see). Most nice, church going,  well-raised Christians who where not as reprobate as me probably have no concept of the depth of depravity that the lost human soul is capable of. It is hatred  It is barren, it is death, it is Enmity it hates God. It ain’t pretty.  In my ‘Utilitarian’ conversation with Michael D, you saw the mask slip just a bit–the fist inside the glove. The coming issues will not be wedding cakes, or polygamy or caches in the public square. They will be for the whole enchilada. Your children’s souls, your freedom to worship,   Christ or your life. Fortunately, in these battles ‘the old man’ is incapable of conceiving  the switch that happens when we grow in Christ. We start by repenting of our Sin (capital S) and asking God to save us. We then grow in our trust and knowledge of Him as He starts cooking the sins (lower-case s) out of us (a very painful process, btw). Later in that process there comes a point where we take Christ’s side against our own Sin  Like Christ, we learn to hate Sin We are on the other side of the Enmity divide. It is this side of it that Michael D and Eric the Red cannot experience. The problem for them and their lies is that I was as evil as they are. I know who they are for I was them. I know their hatred, for I once felt it. I know their goals, for they where once mine. 

     

    -
     

    Saul Alinsky had it right. “The Issue” is never the issue. Yesterday, “The Issue” was gay marriage. Today, “The Issue” is an Ugandan law. Tomorrow “The Issue” will be something that is your fault, of course (Carol! How could you be so insensitive! ). No,  “The Issue” is not the issue. The issue, is our Lord Jesus Christ and His victory at the cross. The issue, is the defeat of Sin. The issue is their hatred of God. To win any “The Issue” we must address the real  issue.

  243. Carole asked “since we are only learning, and observing and hopefully getting closer to truth or the objective good, how do you know right now, it wouldn’t be better to persecute any given class of people?” That’s an odd form of argument from uncertainty. In the future, I might regret that I didn’t start persecuting Christians sooner, so I’d best start now? I would say that my experience is that when you separate members of a class into individual people, and get to know those individual people, it becomes much harder to see the whole class as a unified evil that must be “eliminated”. All muslims are terrorists? Well, my muslim neighbors are really nice peaceful people. All Fundies are bigots? Well actually that Rev. Wilson is really a nice guy when you meet him in person, not at all like that flame-troll he pretends to be on the internet. All gay people are wicked? You should meet my son. etc. etc. So, why not eliminate an entire class of people? Because when you look at a class of people as individuals, your picture of the class changes completely. 

  244. Timothy asked, ” What is the basis for you claim that every Ugandan Christian will be better off? Have you asked them?” Why? Well hate is a sin, is it not? And the emotional and physical energy spent going after the wrong problem would be better spent dealing with the real problem, which in this case is sexual violence in general, and the cultural attitudes that support it.   About the pivot. The pivot was made by the judge in the Colorado cake case who compared it to the 1983 decision where Bob Jones U refused admission to a biracial married couple. The thing is, timothy, your deeply held religious convictions of today will not be the deeply held religious convictions of your grandchildren.

  245. timothy said, “We both know that this is not a debate. We both know this is a war. We have both know where the lines are. You want to separate me from my Lord?” Timothy, you speak as though you do not believe in Irresistible Grace or Perseverance of the Saints. Forgive me for assuming I was debating a Calvinist. “For I have been persuaded to believe nothing can separate us from the wonderful love of God. Neither life, nor death, nor principalities, …” I don’t want to separate you from your Lord. I do want to separate you from your hatred towards some of God’s children, people made in his image, loved by him, and who have been created by him for a purpose. That hatred is what is separating you from your Lord and from his creation.  [My last comment on this thread.]

  246. Michael, that was a scary misunderstanding.  I was trying to show, with an outrageous example, the trouble with your ethical system’s way of knowing the truth i.e trial and error, wait and see, empirical evidence. The fact that you didn’t see I was being outrageous again points to the misunderstanding of the “trivial” cake matter.  I( nor do any Christians I know) do not want to physically harm or negate the human rights in any way of any one struggling with homosexuality. It is because I think that they are hurting themselves that I do not want to encourage or celebrate what they are doing, just as I do not want to encourage anyone who is engaging in any sin, adultery, lying, any disobedience whatsoever to our Lord.  And I don’t want to be forced to do so.
    However, if we can all remember, it was not a homosexual in the case we are discussing who was fired from his job, it was a Christian for stating the tenets of his religion.  And the original point was: What happened to the guiding “desire” or “reasoning” of tolerance? To us, your ethical system does not seem to stable!

  247. too

  248. And, while I believe, Eric, Jill and Michael, that A&E had every legal right to suspend and or fire their employee, so far, the only moral defense in 245 comments of that action has been:  Phil made us feel bad.  That was Andrew Sullivan’s argument as well.  It makes homosexuals feel bad.  Is that really what we want to base our morality on?

  249. Michael,
     

    -

    I do not hate you. I hate the Sin that animates you. I hate the fruits of that Sin–sins. My reaction to my Sin and sins is exactly my reaction to yours.We are commanded by God to hate Sin. Part of loving a person is not lying to them. Sometimes the truth hurts, sometimes it hurts very badly. What you can expect as Sin and sins increase is that these differences will not be mitigated by appeals to tolerance. Rather, you can expect the distance between us to increase.  C.S. Lewis, gives a picture of this in That Hideous Strength. I quote it below.

    -
     

    “Have you ever noticed,” said Dimble, “that the universe, and every bit of the universe is always hardening and narrowing and coming to a point?”
    His wife waited as those wait who know by long experience the mental processes of the person who is talking to them.
    “I mean this,” said Dimble in answer to the question she had not asked. “If you dip into any college, or school, or parish, or family – anything you like – at a given point in its history, you always find that there was a time before that point when there was more elbow room and contrasts weren’t quite so sharp; and that there’s going to be a time after that point when there is even less room for indecision and choices are even more momentous. Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing. The whole thing is sorting itself out all the time, coming to a point, getting sharper and harder.”
     

    -
     

    We are there.
     

  250. Dan, once again I think you raise a false dilemma.  A person can recognize their utter bankruptcy and want reconciliation or they can reject it.  It comes to everyone.  Accepting it doesn’t make one better in any way.  Of course we are ‘dead.’  That was part of what Augustine emphasized in his arguments against Pelagius.  Arminians are not pelagian.  We simply understand that God’s grace comes to all: all can, in practice, accept the gift.  Election is a corporate, not an individual matter.  That is the tenor of Paul’s argument in Romans.  Calvinists come to the part where it speaks of Jacob and Esau, and they suddenly switch the focus to the individual, which makes no sense at all.  Paul is saying that God elects corporate groups.  People can get on or off that like a ship, as the analogy goes.

  251. Carole, I think you summed it up well.  Phil made some people feel bad.  But I doubt really that bad, since adults learn throughout their lives to handle some offhand remarks.  I think the truth is, it was ginned up, phony outrage.  People in positions of power and media influence are trying to change the way people (whom they disagree with) think and talk.  They just can’t handle it, so they try to silence them.  If that doesn’t work, then out come the standard labels (e.g. homophobe, racist, bigot, sexist, hater of poor people, etc.).  I’m not sure why adults can’t just toughen up a bit, since it demonstrates the adolescence of many adults.  Here’s what would be productive.  If all the energy and outrage against the Robertson family would be redirected toward all the filth and crap in rap music and video games (which are marketed to teenagers and young adults), then that would be something.  But you see, all the creators, purveyors, and consumers of this garbage do it in the name of “free speech” and personal freedom of choice.  And you know what?  That is their right in America, whether I like it or not.  So please (I’m speaking to the Left here), why can’t Phil Robertson, even when personally asked what he thinks is sinful, be able to respond in whatever manner he chooses to respond?  I think the only reasonable answer to the Left is: either toughen up a bit, or spare us the phony outrage.

  252. Jon, I respectfully disagree with you, but I appreciate your comments and I enjoyed the debate.  As I said, Christians certainly don’t need to divide over this issue.  And this issue will be analyzed and debated by Christians until the day Christ returns!  Godspeed, Jon.

  253. No, indeed Christians do not need to divide over anything.  If they are Christians, they are obviously united in the Spirit.  I’m not of the opinion that anything more than basic orthodoxy is required, and that’s what’s believed on everywhere and at all times (at least more or less). 
    True, debates will always be around concerning sovereignty and freewill.  Christinas will always differ in their udnerstanding of how we come to believe and how God draws people.  All of oru attemtps are probably inadequate in the final analysis. 

  254. And now his testimony gets reported on ABC News’ website: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2013/12/phil-robertson-defends-anti-gay-comments-all-i-did-was-quote-from-the-scriptures/ . That’s pretty cool…

  255. Hello, Carol.  I believe that your attitude towards gays is based on purest Christian charity for their welfare.  I also believe that you have no desire to oppress them or deprive them of their civil rights and legal protections.  But the fact that your “outrageous example” could be taken literally shows how deep a chasm of fear and suspicion exists between fundamentalist Christians and gays.  If people could take you literally, I am afraid it is because there are in fact Christians who call for the mistreatment of homosexuals in America.  I do not perceive this from reading gay-friendly websites; I have found it on websites such as WND and Mission America.  There are columnists and posters on WND who frequently call for the imprisonment, exile, or even execution of gays.  It is asking a lot to expect gays to realize that these views do not represent Christian fundamentalist doctrine or sentiment, and it is asking a lot for them not to react with hostility and fear.  If Timothy believes I look on this push to the extremes with approval, he is mistaken; I think it is appalling.  It has resulted in the creation of two beleaguered camps that no longer see each other as human.  One side thinks the other is intent on the corruption of its children, the onset of legalized pedophilia and polygamy, and the forced homosexualization of its churches.  The other side thinks that it must defend every inch of hard won territory against a Uganda-style solution of the “gay problem”.  You hoped no one would suggest tolerance.  But what about toleration?  What about the realization that we can coexist while still deeply disapproving of one another?  In my ideal secular world, the gay feels secure enough in the legal protections of the state that there is no real pleasure in going after the Christian baker, while the Christian is able to express disapproval of gay conduct while still acknowledging the homosexual’s civil and human rights.  Catholics have been forced to acknowledge the difference between religious and civil marriage for decades.  A divorced Catholic who remarries outside the church is considered to be living in open adultery and in conscious defiance of divine law.  I can accept the civil validity of this remarriage without yielding ground about its sinfulness.  I think it would be a rare Catholic wedding vendor who asked to see canonical proof  before providing services, and I don’t think any other Catholic would see making a cake as endorsing an unlawful union.  Perhaps it is my Catholic background that enables me to see secular gay marriage in much the same light.  Regardless, I think that there needs to be, as I said before, a dialing down of the hurtful rhetoric on both sides, and an increased willingness not to demonize our opponents on both sides.  This is naive and Pollyanna-ish.  But what is the alternative?

  256. Hi Jill,   I think the problem is that what you are asking for is not possible.  How can sin be tolerated? If a friend came to me and she was struggling with adultery, her marriage was in trouble, her oaths were at stake, would I be tolerant?  What would tolerance look like as a friend?   If my children lie to me, disobey me, should I be tolerant? I am to be patient, yes, loving, yes, forgiving, absolutely, but tolerant?  How can I be a loving sister in Christ and be tolerant of sin?  Likewise, I am not at all surprised when gay activists are not tolerant of Christians.  How can they be?  As I keep hearing over and over, it makes them feel badly that we believe they are engaging in unrepentant sin…. That is a rather large elephant in the room between  fellowship.  It is very evident that when laws are being created to avoid having feelings hurt, tolerance is not going to be extended to those doing the hurting.  I invite you to watch the video of Pastor Wilson at the Indiana University.  That is some pretty frightening tolerance.     You stated that gays don’t want to destroy churches.  Well, that activism is certainly changing them, is it not?  How many churches now, incoherently to me, edit scripture to allow for homosexual activity….And how is that even possible??  This is not a difficult matter for interpretation.  The Bible is very clear! So, churches are simply ignoring that portion of the word, and then there will be another portion of the word and then another….it is a slippery slope.   It is happening and has been happening.  30 years ago, this would all have been inconceivable.  You say you don’t think polygamy will be legalized. I absolutely do think it will be, and the wheels are in motion with the Sister Wives tv show. That’s not phobia. They have just won their first law suit. The moral fabric of this country has changed and continues to change.  Look around us. So when I meet someone, and we become friends and he lets me know that he is gay,  I do want to be kind and friendly and I treat him as I would treat anyone else, I invite him to my church.  That is the only kind of tolerance I know how to extend.
     

  257. Eric said,  

    Utilitarianism says that objectively, heart disease and high blood pressure are not good things, no matter how badly the body may crave the foods that cause them, and the appropriate choice for the body to make is for the greater good – avoiding high blood pressure and obesity through proper diet.

    You’re persisting in a categorical confusion here. Maybe rule utilitarianism attempts some form of objectivity, but one criticism of rule utilitarianism (which depends on what’s “good,” given certain pre-determined values) is that it reduces to act utilitarianism (an average good to be deduced from society), meaning those values themselves must be deduced from society. So I’m treating them both the same (as most people do these days). You sound more like an objectivist, which carries its own problems with it (namely, grounding), which I characterize as putting one’s head down and running straight into the brick wall, pretending it’s not there. Or the black knight.

    I should therefore pig out on junk food because that’s what the body wants.

    The Nazi society determined it was good for Jews’ bodies that they become dead. The Allies disagreed. I understand you want to hold that there are actually things that are objectively anything. It’s a human tendency. When you undercut any possible accounting for objectivity (by refusing to appeal to the Creator of all things and therefore of Objectivity, as well as the values entailed by it), you therefore have an epistemological problem that simply cannot be resolved by running into the wall even harder. If you allege that there are objective values (ontology), you must therefore justify your knowledge of them (epistemology). If you cannot give an accounting as to how you know these things exist and what they are, without appealing to some unwritten set of values (philosophical conjecture, or AAA “asserting assertions assertively) or some variation of appealing to society (ad populum argumentation), then you understand there’s no reason has to take anything you say seriously.

  258. …no reason anyone* has to take anything you say seriously.

  259. Jill, I’d like to add that the reason I don’t think people who are engaging in sin can be tolerant of those urging them to stop is because they have their own conscience bothering them.  Dan and Matthias and Timothy can all explain everything better obviously, but denying Natural Law has its consequences that effect how people engage with others.  And as I said, I do want to be patient with people, and I am very grateful for the patience I have been shown, but I do not want to celebrate or pretend that sin is okay.

  260. Carol,
    Your approach is wonderful to behold.

  261. Thank you so much Timothy.  I really appreciate being apart of this conversation.  I have learned so much from you guys this week and feel really strengthened by it. 

  262. Carol,
    For a right-wing secular perspective on nature of the fight, take a look at Mark Steyn at NRO. Also, from NRO, Andy McCarthy at this link sums up why it is necessary:
     

    Consequently, we are not in ordinary times — times when speech competes with speech in Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s “marketplace of ideas,” and when we are simply trying to arrive at the best policies within an agreed-upon constitutional framework. We are in an us-versus-them time when the radicals are out to annihilate traditional culture and constitutional principles.
    There are no Marquess of Queensbury Rules for confronting such a threat, since a fair fight is not what the mob has in mind. The threat and the aggressors making it need to be exposed, debated, mocked, and otherwise discredited whenever the opportunities present themselves. Nothing else will do, for the mob is immune to peer pressure and it has no shame.

     
    The secular landscape has changed. Hence the sharp elbows. I do miss our old America as well.
     
    Grace and Peace.

  263. Thanks to Pastor Wilson for cultivating a blog ripe for such discussion and learning, even if such things appear less luxurious in reality than in these words. I also need to thank you Eric, sincerely, and not sarcastically, because you’ve helped me make precise distinctions in my thinking on more than one occasion.

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