Love [UPDATED]

November 4, 2010 at 1:13 am (By Amba)

I looked at these beautiful photographs of my niece and her fiancée (yes, two e’s) and the thought that came to me unbidden was, those who would ban or curse or cure this have it exactly backwards.  That our love cannot be contained within biological utility is the sign of our humanity.

UPDATE: NOT to say that I don’t think conceiving a baby in love is a mighty and awesome thing.  Just that love conceives other things as well.

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29 Comments

  1. Peter Hoh said,

    Congratulations!

  2. amba12 said,

    Thank you!

  3. realpc920 said,

    “That our love cannot be contained within biological utility is the sign of our humanity”

    I think there is a lot of homosexuality in other species. So if there is any sign of our humanity (and I don’t really think there is), it might have to be something else. I think homosexuality is natural, and that some people, and animals, are born that way. Maybe it’s part of nature’s response to over-population?

    The real terrible shame these days is the lunacy from the Christian Right. I hate it when leftists call the Christian Right stupid and intolerant, but on this issue they are correct. It is stupid and intolerant to think homosexuality is in any way against the Christian (or Jewish) religion.

    Moses, the Old Testament prophets, and Jesus ALL would have raged on the subject of homosexuality, if they cared about it. They DID NOT care about it, and it is not mentioned in the bibles. Not unless you want to twist some indirect passing comments.

    If you want to know what God, according to the Jewish and Christian bibles, care about, then you have to at least read the bibles. Or what is left of them after centuries of editing.

    Homosexuality is not in there, and neither is abortion. What God really really wants, according to the bibles, is sacrifice, and lots of it — especially lots of BLOOD. And he wants his followers to be FAITHFUL to HIM and not worship other gods.

    If you’re Christian, Jesus was your blood sacrifice so you’re off the hook for that. But you Catholics better stop praying to all those statues of saints because Yahweh REALLY HATES that. He doesn’t mind homosexuality, but he hates when you pray to idols.

    Hey let’s start a political movement to stop Catholics from disobeying God by praying to idols!

  4. Peter Hoh said,

    Thunk.

  5. Eric Williams said,

    I still think homosexuality is a genetic defect and/or neuro-psychological disorder. Cannibalism is natural, too, but that doesn’t have legal protection. That said, I’d like marriage entirely removed from the secular arena. Some kind of domestic partnership for sharing rights and responsibilities would be fine, but marriage as a bond of love is a private affair, and the state should have nothing to do with it. Religions are free associations, so if you don’t like the rules of one (such as for marriage), you are free to disassociate and seek a different association.

    P.S. My blog has moved; please update your blogroll. My new blog home is funkydung.com and my political blatherings are at /politics. :)

  6. wj said,

    “…homosexuality is a genetic defect…” — Eric

    Noted without comment: the same can also be said (and with much more assurance, not to mention existing scientific support) of blue eyes or blond hair. Just sayin’….

  7. wj said,

    Amba, they both look so very happy. How wonderful for them to have found each other.

  8. amba12 said,

    Thanks for the heads up re: address change!

    My point, I guess, is that whatever homosexuality is (and call it a defect or disorder all you like, real is right: it is one thread running throughout nature), it can, like heterosexuality (which also has its kinked lower octaves), be a vehicle for love. Souls love one another, bodies are an imperfect medium for the vulnerability to love and the expression of it, which can, like other idols, be misused as ends in themselves.

  9. Eric Williams said,

    A trait (such as eye color or sexual preference) should be irrelevant in the eyes of the law. Actions that do not harm others should be as well. Religions, or even social clubs, are free associations that are free to dictate and enforce (within legal bounds) moral norms. If a religion was silly enough to find blue eyes or blonde hair offensive, it’d be free to do so.

    In the Catholic Church, merely having same-sex attraction is not sinful. However, acting on that attraction is. Any act that is contrary to the holy, unitive, and sacramental union of one man and one woman is unacceptable. Don’t like that? You’re free to not be associated with the Catholic Church.

    If some other church (or even a club for atheists) wants to marry same-sex couples, polygamous groups, members of different species, or even people with inanimate objects, they should be free to do so in the eyes of the law. However, the state has no business recognizing or not recognizing any such private union beyond its contractual aspects. No religion or other private association should have the right to define the terms of any private contract for everyone who might enter into it.

    In order to ban homosexual acts or restrict homosexuals from operating in society in all the same ways heterosexuals do, religious groups (or whoever) would have the heavy burden of proving that empirically demonstrable damage to another person is done (i.e., not just to their immortal souls, which are most assuredly not in the purview of the state), and that damage must be sufficient to warrant the lamentable use of the force of law. Moreover, such damage must be involuntary, for the law should have no say in the affairs of those who of their own free will wish to be harmed (e.g., masochists).

    Private contracts are only within the purview of the state so much as the state’s role is to enforce them. The terms, freely entered, are the business of the involved parties alone.

    If you have a private marriage covenant that you’d like recognized by the state as a domestic partnership contract, so be it. If you have a domestic partnership contract you’d like solemnized by a religious authority, so be it – as long as the authority is a willing participant.

    No gay marriage. No straight marriage. No marriage at all (as far as the state and its laws are concerned).

  10. wj said,

    The government only started keeping track of marriages when it got involved for other reasons. In particular, since tax laws give deductions for marriages, you have to know who is actually married. Ditto with spousal Social Security benefits. Ditto with a large number of things where a spouse can legally act on behalf of the other spouse, but unrelated individuals cannot.

    And most particularly, with the division of assets during a divorce, you first have to know who was and wasn’t actually married. Of course, you could just let the (physically) stronger party throw the other party out of the house and hold all the assets. Leave marriage contracts only for those rich enough to hire a lawyer and set them up at the very beginning of their lives. Hey, the rich have done that for centuries.

    But if you aren’t willing to go back to that way of doing things, you have to establish who is married in law, and who is just shacked up.

  11. Donna B. said,

    I am nothing if I am consistent… or if I am not inconsistent :-)

    Therefore, I am BACK.

    It is truly a slippery slope down which one slides when one suggests that sexuality has a moral attribute. This is a poster child case of the norm equals moral.

    It is only where there is a power/force differential that sexuality enters the moral realm. It is truly immoral when an adult is sexually active with a non-adult.

    Possibility of reproduction has nothing to do with morality. That it is “normal” for most sexual unions to have reproduction as a “side effect” has absolutely nothing to do with the union itself.

    But… the Catholics do have a point where they insist that heterosexual unions always carry the possibility of reproduction. I’ve got no problem with that. Seriously… does anyone think that intercourse between a man and a woman cannot result in the creation of a baby?

    If you do, you’ve got a lot more “faith” in contraceptives than I do.

    As an agnostic, or perhaps even an atheist, I do not see where it follows that sexual activity between two women or two men is immoral.

    For me, morality enters when either of the two partners accepts or declines responsibility for the possible offspring. IOW, a woman who is raped is not morally responsible for the child she might conceive, but the man who raped her is. Alternately… a woman who uses her body for monetary reward is responsible for the children she might conceive.

    The immorality revolves around producing children. Homosexual liaisons do not produce children and are therefore immune to that immorality argument.

    But what about the argument that homosexuals cannot morally parent? Good grief. Would you argue that child abusers are better parents because they might be heterosexual? Parenting and sexual orientation have nothing in common. But if they did, heterosexuals would not fare well due to sheer numbers.

    Why yes… heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals dramatically. Heterosexuality is FAR more common than homosexuality. Duh…

    That does not translate into either being more moral, better, or worse than the other. There are also obviously heterosexual men and women who have little or no chance of reproducing… does that make them immoral?

    Nope. It just makes them socially undesirable and the reasons for that are numerous. AND… there are also those who choose to NOT reproduce for numerous reasons. Their choices are not immoral.

    I think that humanity involves the ability to make choices. And that the closer to some definition of “absolute” the further away from humanity such a choice becomes.

  12. amba12 said,

    Seriously… does anyone think that intercourse between a man and a woman cannot result in the creation of a baby?

    Sometimes yes, if the woman is past menopause, or either one is infertile for any reason.

  13. Donna B. said,

    Touche… except that where immorality is concerned, the possibility of a child is the determining factor. And, morally, it has carried over to those situations where conception is not physically possible.

    Morally it is an absolute, while physicality it is not.

    Personally, I do not wish to extend morality to the possibility of conception.

  14. realpc920 said,

    “In the Catholic Church, merely having same-sex attraction is not sinful. However, acting on that attraction is. Any act that is contrary to the holy, unitive, and sacramental union of one man and one woman is unacceptable. Don’t like that? You’re free to not be associated with the Catholic Church.”

    The Catholic Church strayed very very far from the message of Christ. I am not against the Catholic religion, and I even like it. However, I would not go so far as to call it a Christian religion.

    Jesus was mainly talking about getting into heaven. He was not interested in procreation at all, since he never expected the world to last long enough for that to matter.

    Jesus told his followers to follow the Jewish law, to an extreme degree. Well how many of you Catholics, or even Christians, know anything about the Jewish law? Probably none of you. But that doesn’t prevent you from thinking you know all about what God wants from us.

    Jesus said that his followers must not divorce, since if you divorce your wife and she remarries, she is (technically) committing adultery. So his followers said “Hey, who in their right mind would ever get married if they had no option to divorce?” Good point. Jesus said “Well then, it’s better not to marry.”

    And yet, you Catholics and Christians have no objection to people getting married. It is true that St. Paul took a lot of liberties and changed things around however he liked. When he saw the behavior of the unmarried Christians, who all lived together in communes, he said “Well I guess maybe you guys better get married, forget what Jesus said.”

    What you Catholics, and Christians, really stand for is traditional AMERICAN values, not Catholic or Christian values. You look back to the good old days when gays were safely stuck in the closet. They were there, but not in your face so you didn’t care.

    But anyway, I defy you to make a logical coherent case for your anti-gay bigotry. I am not saying this because I’m gay, because I am not gay. I just can’t stand the kind of bigotry that has absolutely no rational basis. It is not only cruel, it is pointless.

  15. realpc920 said,

    And maybe you could stop and think for a minute what JESUS would do about gays. Would he reject them and stigmatize them? Would he reject or stigmatize any outcast member of society? NO, he wouldn’t even reject a tax collector, for God’s sake!!

  16. realpc920 said,

    “where immorality is concerned, the possibility of a child is the determining factor.”

    Why? Who said? Then kissing should be a sin, because it can’t result in conception.

  17. amba12 said,

    Not REMOTELY what she meant. She meant if you conceive a child you are responsible for it, one way or another. If you have the child and abandon/neglect/mistreat it, that’s immoral.

  18. realpc920 said,

    Ok, I couldn’t figure out what she meant.

  19. Randy said,

    Hi Donna! Missed you.

  20. wj said,

    I thought Jesus summarized his theology pretty clearly:
    “All the Law and all the Prophets are this: love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Taking his own words to be sincere, and what he meant by “Jewish Law,” there isn’t even any obvious rejection of homosexuality there. (Nor, as is more commonly accepted, of eating meat and milk, or wearing clothing made of a cotton/wool blend, or any of the other stuff banned for those who want to keep kosher.)

    Admittedly, Paul and others who came later added lots of stuff that would make their religion more in their own image. But someone can be a good and devout follower of Jesus, without having any use for St. Paul.

  21. amba12 said,

    Eric, among other things, that’s a fine contribution to the downsizing of government!

    The only way a pluralistic society can respect the firmness of contradictory beliefs without actively endorsing relativism is to simplify its rules to a bedrock of non-harm and adult consent. Even there the definition will be contentious (and the rules should be much tougher for public than private space). If this means we end up living in small like-minded communities (like bacterial colonies on agar) linked into networks by the Internet, so be it: different ways of living can coexist and even compete over time to see which are the most robust.

    Certainly even religious people — even people relying on the same texts — understand God’s wishes for us differently depending on temperament. Some need more structure than others. I have the impression even these two crudely described types are secretly interdependent in the life of society — the former guard against chaos, the latter against rigidity.

  22. Maxwell James said,

    I only wish more of Eric’s co-religionists thought as he does. Then we could confine ourselves to civil disagreement without having to constantly fight through the hounds of government.

  23. amba12 said,

    Well, Eric is something of a rarity — I think: an equally committed Catholic and libertarian. (Or maybe there are a lot of them out there and we just don’t know it?)

  24. amba12 said,

    I think that living the beliefs and ethics you find to be beautiful and right is the best way to argue for them. If they are meant to prevail, that’s the only way it will happen. In any event, “vote with your feet.”

  25. realpc920 said,

    I agree wj. Jesus most definitely was not into judging people for being different. The people he really hated were the self-righteous judgmental hypocrites. He associated with women and children, prostitutes and tax-collectors — all kinds of outcasts. He surely would be kind to homosexuals if he were around today. Especially since homosexuality is not a topic in the bibles. Orgies and gang-rapes are condemned, but not homosexuality. Except maybe some passing comment that you could twist. But you can find anything at all in the bibles if you do enough twisting.

    And Jesus told his followers to obey the Jewish law — and it’s enormous! I read every word because I just had to find out what exactly it said. Quite a chore to get through, but I’m glad I did. Now I know that the things the Christian Right harps on most are not even mentioned. And there are thousands of things in there that they completely and utterly ignore.

    It’s true that St. Paul got rid of the kosher laws, knowing the pagans would never go for that. And also circumcision. But what about all the rest?

    I really think that most people who are raving about homosexuality being a sin just never read the bibles. They just don’t know what they are talking about at all.

  26. amba12 said,

    I think it is mentioned only once, in Leviticus. Possibly in the context of banning orgiastic ritual practices of pagan religions.

  27. wj said,

    In my observation, the theology of “fundamentalist” Christians is far, far closer to the Judaism of the Pharisees than to anything that Jesus would embrace: Lots of quotations from the Old Testament about details of things that people must not be allowed to do. Very little about love for each other.

  28. wj said,

    Amba, there is a specific verse in Leviticus which says that it is an abomination for a man to lie with a man. (Nothing, note, about homosexual practices by women!) It’s just a couple of verses over from where wearing mixed fibers is condemned (in exactly the same terms) — anybody with a wool/cotton blend suit (or even, arguably, a cotton/polyester shirt) should also be put to death, if you want to get technical. But somehow, nobody gets exercised about violations of that part of Law.

  29. realpc920 said,

    “I think it is mentioned only once, in Leviticus. Possibly in the context of banning orgiastic ritual practices of pagan religions.”

    Yahweh was very much opposed to the ritual orgies of the neighboring pagans, and also their practice of human sacrifice. There are things Yahweh (through Moses and other prophets) repeats and repeats and repeats. The Israelites were supposed to be faithful to their one God, to sacrifice animals instead of humans, and to not practice ritual orgies. All those things set them apart from the pagans.

    As wj said, a man lying with a man (whatever exactly that means) is on the same level as mixing your fibers. Also on the same level is a woman wearing man’s clothes. Ok, so how many of those gay-haters are opposed to women wearing pants and short hair?

    If ONLY people would educate themselves about this, they would definitely calm down about homosexuality.

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