Monday, June 10, 2013

Boy Scout Troop 254

An open letter to Briarwood Church, Harry Reeder, RJ Fischer, and Boy Scout Troop 254:

believe it or not, I'm an eagle scout.  I have a certificate to prove it, signed by Bill Clinton, hanging in my old room at my parents house in Alabama.  It's the only thing signed by Bill Clinton in my parent's house.


people who don't know that about me are usually surprised when they find out.  it doesn't seem to go with the rest of my personality / personal philosophy / lifestyle, etc.  but anyone who's ever been in the woods with me wouldn't be surprised to learn that I'm an eagle scout.  I'm the guy who always has extra gear.  and backup gear for when that gear breaks.  I know how to tie nerdy knots.  I never get wet even in the hardest rainstorms.  or cold even on the coldest nights.  the woods is my favorite place to be. 

my mother made me try things growing up.  she made me take tennis lessons once and I was miserable the entire time.  I made the instructor miserable too.  I never had any more tennis lessons after that.  she made me play a season of baseball (the coaches hated me).  she made me join a church choir and I got in trouble for not singing during the performances.  she made me try boy scouts.  I protested.  I told her scouts were nerdy and I hated the dumb uniforms and I wanted nothing to do with them.  My protests were in vain; I went on a camping trip over a weekend and I was hooked.  I had more fun on that weekend boy scout camping trip than I had ever anticipated.  I had friends in the troop that I didn't realize were in it.  we were set free in the woods and the dads who led the troop were fun and taught us things.  from the age of 12-17, it was my secret - I was a boy scout.  

I did other things during those years.  I had a girlfriend and got my drivers license and went to high school and had a part time job at the local ice cream shop.  but once a month, I'd be free in the woods with my friends for a weekend camping trip.  no sunday church.  no saturday chores.  it was never boring, it was always free and exciting and I loved it.  I learned how to pack for backpacking trips and canoeing trips and survival trips.  I spent nights miles deep in caves, and high up on the tops of mountains.  I figured out how to turn a tent tarp into a sail and stop paddling in a canoe.  I learned how to hang food to keep it away from bears at night.  and I learned about how beautiful friendships can be forged simply because you had the gift of time.  I'm still very close to some of the guys I was in scouts with during those years.

And so, it feels worth writing about, that my former boy scout troop (troop 254 in birmingham, alabama), former scout leader, and former church I grew up in (which sponsored troop 254), are now in talks to end the boy scout troop because of the recent decision by the boy scouts of america to allow gay boys to be apart of the boy scouts.  here is an article in which the pastor of my former church (harry reeder) is quoted. here is a link to more of harry reeder's thoughts on the issue. and I recently received a very disappointing email from my former scoutmaster rj fischer where he expressed very negative thoughts about homosexual boys, and suggested that the troop might be ending because of this issue.

here's a few thoughts:

1. No person has the right to mandate another person's sexuality, especially the sexuality of children.  Sorry, religious people, sexuality just doesn't work that way.

2. this new rule says that openly gay BOYS can remain in the scouting program.  lets talk about this for a moment.  When I was in scouts I don't ever remember any talks about sex or any conversations about sex at all.  We talked about the woods.  we learned how to camp and survive outside and tie knots.  Any conversations about sex - no matter the orientation - would have been inappropriate.

3. this is worth repeating.  the new rule says that openly gay BOYS can remain in the scouting program!  listen, when I was 13 years old, I hadn't a clue about my sexuality. my friends who are gay now and were gay then CERTAINLY weren't talking about their sexuality, and it never affected our friendship, or my sexuality.  Like most children, we didn't know what to make of our sexuality.  also, we were all born to heterosexual parents; nobody was a product of any mythological "homosexual agenda".  

4. Christians, if you are apart of a church (and that includes Briarwood Church - the church I grew up in) that ends their boy scout program due to this homophobia, you should be ashamed of yourself.  This is not love.  This is not how you care for children.  This is not how you deal with sexuality that makes you uncomfortable.  If you are a member of this church, or any church currently discussing this issue, I urge you to voice your opinion.

5. if you are a boy scout, or a young person reading this, I urge you to read and think for yourself about this issue!  don't just take what your leaders tell you as fact.  Ask the hard questions about the Bible and morality and sexuality and come to your own conclusions. Think critically about yourself and your friends who are gay and how you feel about them as people.  How do you feel they should be treated?  if you are a boy and you are reading this and you are gay, please know that you are not alone, and that there are people out there like me who are fighting for you. 

homosexuality is not controversial. there is no reason to be afraid of other people's sexuality.  as adults we should not teach children to be afraid of other people's sexuality.

I am thankful for my experience in the boy scouts.  I hope this tradition can continue for future generations and boys, regardless of their sexual orientation.

sincerely, 

Brian T. Murphy

36 comments:

Todd Higey said...

The motivation for Briarwood ending its association with Boy Scouts is not an irrational fear of those who engage in sex with people of the same gender. Fear has nothing to do with it; neither does irrationality. It is simple: Divine law prohibits homosexuality. Briarwood seeks to adhere to divine law. Therefore, Briarwood seeks to avoid engaging in, endorsing, or promoting homosexuality. I understand you may reject the first premise. I understand you may accuse Briarwood of failing to fulfill the second premise. But Briarwood's conduct is hardly irrational. And it makes little sense to criticize the manifestation of the doctrine and not address the underlying doctrine itself; that is, your real issue is whether there is a Trinitarian God that has revealed his Law in Holy Writings. If that doctrine is accepted, then it makes perfect sense to oppose homosexuality, along with murder, theft, perjury, and covetousness. If you reject the primary doctrine, then why bother squabbling with the manifestations, the symptoms, flowing out of the beliefs of those who don't reject that primary doctrine?

Ellie said...

Great post, BTM!

Jennifer A said...

This is beautiful.

First, how awesome was your mother to make you try new things?

Second, I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I believe that church and church sponsored organizations are for everyone. Jesus didn't just love the straight people or gay people. EVERYONE. And you are right, any sexual agenda is inappropriate with children.

How can Christians claim to love when we keep shutting out the world? We can't.

Rock on!

Todd Higey said...

Jennifer A,

"Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Clint Wells said...

Todd - a few things:

1. I think one of the benefits of criticizing what you call the "manifestations" and "symptoms" of beliefs is that it actually encourages a deeper conversation about the root of those beliefs. In this case that would be some sparse sections of the Bible. Brian does encourage folks in his blog post to consider what the Bible has to say about the matter and come to their own conclusion. I think you can criticize how people act on their beliefs and also criticize the root of those beliefs at the same time.

2. You say that the issue is not fear or irrationality, a but a simple case of Divine Law. Well, all one has to do is ask a few simple questions. What is this divine law? Where does it come from? How do we know it comes from God? What is the basis for this divine law? Specifically regarding prohibitions of homosexuality I would argue that this law is not divine and that it was put into place because of fear and sexual taboo. To believe in this divine law with such an amazing lack of evidence is rather irrational. So, there you have your fear and irrational thinking a few simple questions behind your Divine Law distraction.

3. I think the real point of interest here is that ending discrimination against homosexuals is an issue that transcends the god question. The Christian community has no consensus on this issue. There are MANY christians who find no relevance in the few passages where the Bible mentions homosexuality. So claiming divine law is really unhelpful when Christians are incapable of even agreeing upon what divine law is.

To answer your last question, it's important to criticize these "manifestations" of belief because beliefs matter. And people's bad beliefs about homosexuality are hurting our friends, family members and neighbors who are gay. More pertinently, these beliefs are causing an institution that Brian feels was very important to his childhood. An institution that taught him a lot of valuable lessons. What a shame that other boys like him, gay or straight, will not have that opportunity because of "Divine Law" or as I would comfortable call it, fear and irrationality.

Clint Wells said...

*...these beliefs are causing an institution that Brian feels was very important to his childhood to disappear.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Clint Wells said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian T. Murphy said...

anonymous comments will be deleted.

Clay Conner said...

Come on, BTM. You know people like the anonymity of the web.

Brian T. Murphy said...

true, clay. I hear that's part of why pornography is so popular on the internet.

Todd Higey said...

Clint, thank you for your comments and observations.

Am I understanding your argument correctly if I rephrase it as such:

First, the Christian Scriptures do not support the proposition that homosexuality (both the orientation toward and practice of) is a transgression of the law of God.

Second, those who embrace that proposition are therefore motivated by an irrational fear of that orientation and activity such that they subscribe to a doctrine that no reasonable interpretation of the Scriptures would support.

Let me propose an alternative approach to this ethical question. It appears that you agree (1) there is a God and (2) He will judge all people according their compliance with His law?

If this is the case, and considering the Christian church has for many centuries considered homosexuality a violation of God's law, wouldn't it be wiser to err on the side of not permitting it and not engaging in it? If God does judge men, why run the risk of incurring his wrath on an ethical question that has been answered one way for two millenia and another way for four decades? Sort of a Paschal's wager. Does the benefit of a transient, temporal human relationship outweigh the risk of incurring eternal Divine wrath?

I've never understood the complaint about discrimination - at least in the context of civil rights. Those who practice homosexuality are not disenfranchised. They still have the right to vote, to hold property, to due process of law, to a jury trial, etc. It appears they are complaining of not receiving the same tax benefits that other segments of the population receive. But this is true of home owners versus those who rent their residence; so also, those who have children get tax credits (unless you make "too much" money), versus those who have no children. There will always be discrimination under the current tax code.

Clint Wells said...

Todd -

My first point really isn't about debating the particular theology. It is to point out that criticizing the manifestations, something you said doesn't make sense, ultimately leads to critical analysis of the source of that manifestation. I personally believe that if people research for themselves they will not find much justification for the condemnation of homosexuals. I'm of the opinion, generally speaking, that reading the Bible is the best way to see how silly it is at times. In the Old Testament we are told that homosexuals are to be stoned to death. This idea seems ridiculous to nearly all sane people, religious or not. Sorry to be so long winded, but I wasn't really making a point about what the Bible does or does not say about homosexuality. I know what it says. The point is, should it be considered seriously? I don't think so.

Anyone who embraces any idea dogmatically is irrational. All hatred and bigotry are motivated by fear. I believe people who blindly follow the Bible to the detriment of their family and neighbors are motivated by fear and behaving irrationally.

Also, to be clear. I DO NOT agree there is a god. I don't want to get too hung up on this because it is irrelevant but I am what some people refer to as a soft atheist. I don't believe the question of god is knowable. All I can do is look at the evidence for a certain claim. In the case of Christianity I do not see anywhere near sufficient evidence to assent to it as my core belief system. Incidentally, no god claim has been persuasive to me. I'm not saying I know there is no god (that would be hard atheism and, in my opinion, dogmatic) but I do remain unpersuaded by Christianity.

In some ways this makes your next paragraph moot. But there is this idea you are touching on that because something has endured through time, it is somehow immune to criticism or unable to evolve. This angle seems to be obtusely unaware of the moral progress of the last several hundred years. Take the abolition of slavery. This is a moral achievement of mankind that took centuries. It's also worth mentioning that the Bible was no help in that endeavor whatsoever with passages instructing the people of god on how to appropriately beat their slaves and Paul's admonishment for slaves to "obey their masters." Similar arguments can be made for gender equality as well. All ideas should stand up against scrutiny. Nothing is sacred and nothing should be accepted without evidence.

Lastly, I hope this will clear up some of your confusion about discrimination. Homosexuals are absolutely disenfranchised when they are denied the right to marry one another. There are around 1,000 federal laws and around 300 state laws that these people are explicitly denied because of their sexual orientation. What's confusing about that? Your analogy with home owners vs. renters doesn't make sense. Nor does your analogy with people who have children. In those cases people are making decisions that are within their control. A "home owner" cannot be delegated into a "class." I see no reasonable difference between denying a gay person the right to marriage as I do denying a black person the right to marriage. Can you explain the difference to me?

Some Christians think homosexuality is a sin and it makes god angry or sad or whatever. I find this idea laughable but I very much support the right for those poor people to believe in those things. But that doesn't mean I will not criticize those beliefs. I believe strongly in the marketplace of ideas and in this marketplace homophobia is dying.

respectfully,
CW

Todd Higey said...

Clint, would you agree with the Anglo-American tradition of pragmatism and positivism which holds that good and bad are merely emotive terms? That is, that there is no such thing as right or wrong?

Would you acknowledge that, even if there is a system of ethics devised by man, in the absence of a divine enforcer, in the end, each person can and will do what is right in her eyes?

Marriage is not a civil right, at least not in my opinion as a lawyer.

David W said...

Strong post BTM, good job.

NavScouting said...

Brian earlier in this blog you made a statement "I recently received a very disappointing email from my former scoutmaster rj fischer where he expressed very negative thoughts about homosexual boys,"

Yes, I may have shared some very negative thoughts. But they were not about boys, rather they were about the adults that are pushing us to get their way. I hold nothing against boys and their wishes and desires.

We are (and I do) care for these boys. Every boy and girl does ask those questions about sexuality. Parents are to be their teacher. Not some group of adults that, I believe have an agenda.

Clint Wells comments show himself to be on the fence. Clint I don't believe you can handle Christianity. Get off the fence! You should either love God or hate Him. If you want to study the Bible with me I would be more than happy to do so. I will even let you tell me what it says. But we will do it privately, just you and me and The Word of God.

Christians are not perfect. Unfortunately most of them don't read the Bible any more than you do.

But you are hiding behind them. Did you know that you have to be smaller than something to hide behind it?

I only want to point out that God will have the last word on this issue, whether you believe in Him or not. His Word, The Bible says it is wrong. Do you read The Bible or just go by what other people say about the Bible?

I too hope that Briarwood will pray and seek God's direction. I could go either way for 2 reasons.

1. I have told everyone that Scouting has been a very effective tool for training boys in the ways of the world. More importantly is how to be a godly leader who can impact the world for good. For that reason I can see why many may want to quit playing around with an organization that changes its good polices after 103 years because of outside pressures.

2. By staying with the B.S.A. we can have a voice of truth in front of these boys and dads. But I also understand that it is hard to stop a moving train. As I have said, "America is on its way down."
I feel God would have me work with both of these groups.

Lastly, It’s not homosexuality, The Boy Scouts of America or anyone’s opinion that matters. It is God! He has set the standards and He will have the last Word.

In His name,
R.J. Fischer

Clint Wells said...

Todd - My personal opinions about the nature of morality are irrelevant. If you're sincerely interested in where I land on that issue I would encourage you to read Michael Shermer's "The Science of Good and Evil" as well as Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape."

Can you please explain why denying gays folks marriage isn't a civil right?

RJ - I'm not really sure what you're talking about. Perhaps you should re-read my comments? I explicitly stated that I did not believe in a god and specifically mentioned that the Christian claim was lacking in persuasive evidence. I'm not on the fence about Christianity. I reject it. I'm, of course, always open to new arguments and evidence but I don't consider the Bible to be a reliable starting point for proving itself to be true by simply stating it is God's word.

I was an evangelical Christian for ten years, several years of which were spent attending Southeastern Bible College. I'm sure you will find this unimpressive, but I've actually read the Bible several times and given it's words a great deal of thought. I've also done a lot of reading on the origins of the Bible and know that we actually have no clue what the original writers of the Bible wrote. I would encourage anyone reading this to investigate how the New Testament was compiled over the years. There is a great introductory book into this issue by Bart Ehrman called "Misquoting Jesus."

Thanks for the invitation, but I have no desire to study spirituality with you.

This will not seem surprising to you, but I actually don't think America is on it's way down at all. Every decade we see the shackles of fundamentalism eroding. We see progress in race and gender equality. Every year more states make it legal for same sex couples to enjoy equal benefits in the institution of marriage. As I stated before, in the marketplace of ideas, bigotry is dying. You can evolve or die with it. I say come over to the side of humanism. Where we aren't mandated to reject and hate our fellow human beings because they are born differently than us. The water is warm. There is love here.

Respectfully,

CW

Larry Fischer said...

Brian, I am not going to get involved in the spirited debate you have started here but I am going to say that I don't agree with your comments. I know it won't really matter to you but I am disappointed that you seem to have lost something and are searching for it. I see it in your feeds. I know how that feels. You can fill that void with fame, fortune and even your own creative genius talent but it always comes back. The still small voice is there even if you choose to ignore it your whole life. The reality here is that the debate going on here with Todd, Clint and R.J. is fine but the truth is the truth and you know it. It won't change and when the creator of that truth comes it will not matter what I think or what Todd, Clint, R.J or you think. He loves the sinner but hates the sin.

Brian T. Murphy said...

RJ,

You were a good man to me when I was growing up, and that will never be lost on me. I will always be thankful for that.

The simple fact is, there is nothing immoral about homosexuality. Many christians agree with me on this issue.

Very little of what you said here resonates with me, just like your most recent newsletter, and I am sorry that we disagree on an issue that is as important as this.

I'm not going to defend myself because I don't have to.

I'm still thankful for you.



Larry,

I understand your disappointment. I accept it.


Brian T. Murphy

NavScouting said...


Brian,

Thank you.
Hang in there and keep me updated.

Love you brother,
RJ

Todd Higey said...

Clint, here is my long-delayed response to your question! Turns out what I dictated was too long, so I'm having to break this up into two posts...

In answer to your question as to why marriage is not a civil right, Federal civil rights are positive laws specifically enumerated in the Constitution and its Amendments. By contrast, marriage is a core fundamental institution of society. To quote the United States Supreme Court, “It is an institution, in the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.” Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 211 (1888). And again, “It partakes more of the character of an institution regulated and controlled by public authority, upon principles of public policy, for the benefit of the community.” 125 U.S. at 213. Indeed, this institution is unlike any other contract or civil right in that, once entered into, the legal existence of the parties is merged into one. Id. at 213. Although it is created by private consensual agreement, it is truly a creature of “public ordination.”

Unlike civil rights, which can be waived, or contracts which can be dissolved by mutual agreement of the parties, the rights, duties, obligations, extent and duration of the marriage are “determined by the will of the sovereign as evidenced by law.” 125 U.S. at 211. Consider that even today, in the era of no-fault divorce, private individuals still cannot dissolve the marriage of their own accord. They require the order of the State to terminate this singular legal entity. For this reason, our Supreme Court has compared the marriage relationship to that of the social relationship between a parent and child. The obligations of the parent toward the child are a creation of the law, and not one of contract. Id. at 211. “In strictness, though formed by contract, [marriage] signifies the relation of husband and wife, deriving both its rights and duties from a source higher than any contract for which the parties are capable, and as to these uncontrollable by any contract which they can make. When formed, this relation is no more a contract than ‘fatherhood’ or ‘sonship’ is contract.” Id. at 212, quoting, Ditson v. Ditson, 4 R.I. 87, 101.

This is why marriage is not a mere civil right; it is something much deeper and much more fundamental. It always consisted of the union of one man and one woman. See, Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U.S. 15, 45 (1885) (defining marriage as a “union for life of one man and one woman”). If people of the same gender are permitted to marry, then marriage is no longer marriage. It is something else; a civil union, perhaps.

In any event, the question of whether the State should sanction gay marriage is left entirely to the general police power and sovereignty of the individual States. It is not a function of Federal civil rights. There is no right in the Federal Constitution which supersedes any state law, requiring the states to permit and sanction gay marriage. And if a state should choose to amend its state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, then it is entirely within its prerogative as a sovereign to do so.

A further evidence that gay marriage is neither a civil right nor a fundamental liberty interest is demonstrated by the fact that homosexual sodomy was criminalized until 2004 in many states in our Nation. It can hardly be said that an activity which was criminal for many centuries in Anglo-American jurisprudence was, in point of fact, a fundamental liberty interest. (According to the Supreme Court, “fundamental liberty interests” are those interests which have been long recognized in Anglo-American jurisprudence – like the right to a jury trial. Thus, by definition, something which was illegal for centuries cannot be a fundamental liberty interest.)

Todd Higey said...

Here's part deux...

If marriage is not the union of one man and one woman, but is instead a union of persons, irrespective of gender, then to be logical, one must permit any two or more adults to enter into a union. For example, why should siblings be denied the civil right of marriage? Or why should a parent and adult child be denied the civil right of marriage? Incest, bigamy, and polygamy are presently illegal, but the day may come when they are no longer illegal. Do these individuals who presently engage in such activities have a latent civil right to marriage which shall someday be revealed? Did homosexuals in decades past have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in marriage which is only now being recognized? Were the anti-sodomy laws of years past unconstitutional because of a latent civil right to marry persons of the same gender? It is to be noted that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of states and legislatures to deny enfranchisement – or the right to vote – to those who engage in polygamy and bigamy. The grounds for upholding this disenfranchisement is based upon the fact that those engaging in polygamy and bigamy were destroying the bedrock institution of society, namely marriage between one man and one woman. I do not believe our forefathers were wrong in centuries past on this subject. I do not believe that some of us in the current generation have greater wisdom and insight on this question than the thousands who have preceded us.

Marriage does not exist for the personal fulfillment of those who are married, although that may be a by-product. Marriage does not exist to serve the pleasure of citizens. Marriage exists as the basic institution of the polity; without it, the State cannot exist, and we remain savages.

Over the last few decades, the States have systematically dismantled marriage, permitting no-fault divorce and diluting its very meaning and purpose by expanding the term to include non-heterosexual unions. I would hazard that this will lead to the demise of the State. At least that was the opinion of those who created this State. But then again, perhaps there are some among us who are much wiser then they.

Clint Wells said...

Todd - thanks for the response. Here are some thoughts:

1. Admittedly the legal language you're using is tough for me to understand. But it sounds like you're saying because marriage has been defined a certain way by our legal system, that it is bound to this definition and unable to evolve.

History shows this to be untrue. Before a 1967 Supreme Court decision it was illegal for mixed races to marry. If we were in 1965 would you really be arguing against interracial marriage because of how narrowly the law books defined it? If so, can you explain the difference to me?

2. I believe in the power of state rights only until the point that those state rights are unjustly harming groups of people. In this particular debate, I consider it morally imperative for the the Federal government to repeal DOMA across the states.

3. You say that the criminalization of homosexual sodomy is evidence that homosexual marriage is not a civil right? How does this make any sense? Is it possible that our classification of sodomy as a crime was wrong? This is the same system that once thought owning people was a good idea. I imagine you consider the freedom of a black person a "fundamental" liberty although blacks were treated as property for the first 100 years of American history. This is the same system that once thought women were not important enough to have a vote.

I shudder to think of a world where our laws and morality were not evolving. Becoming better, stronger and more reasonable. Arrived at with more evidence, skepticism and criticism. History has shows that this is the way forward. Our future will be better for it.

Todd - with respect, you have failed to show why denying homosexuals the right to marriage and access to over a thousand benefit laws is not a civil right and is not open discrimination. All people should have access to these rights despite their sexual orientation.

I will now deal with your second part.

Todd Higey said...

An interesting legal issue on the subject: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/06/16/kentucky-same-sex-case-to-be-landmark-/2427503/

Clint Wells said...

Todd - One of the most common arguments I hear in favor of denying homosexuals rights is the argument that if gays marry then it will lead to polygamy, incest, pedophilia and bestiality. If this argument weren't so unbelievably ubiquitous it would not even be worth addressing. Here goes:

The issue of homosexual marriage is first and foremost an issue unto itself that must stand or fall on it's own merits. Asking whether or not kids should marry each other is unhelpful, distracting and ultimately a disingenuous way of evading the issue at hand.

Anti-sodomy laws of the past and anti-gay marriage laws in our current state are without a doubt unconstitutional because they violate what you refer to as "latent" rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. I, again, would easily liken this to slavery and women's suffrage. In regards to homosexual marriage the grounds to "protect the bedrock institution of society" are unfounded. Study after study shows that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. The American Psychological Association has done a wealth of studies on the sociological effects of gay parenting and found it equally as healthy as heterosexual parenting (http://pamshouseblend.firedoglake.com/2013/03/01/american-sociological-association-calls-out-obliterates-anti-gay-parenting-study/).

Studies show an equal level of commitment and relationship satisfaction in gay couples (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/apa-elo011708.php).

Studies show absolutely no correlation between homosexuality and child molestation (http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html) and, in fact, show that a majority of molestation cases are by straight people.

Some may argue that homosexuals are not able to procreate and therefore defeat the entire purpose of a marriage. But I doubt these same people would deny marriage rights to couples who are unable to have children or couples that CHOOSES not to have children.

So, where is this danger to the bedrock of society? It does not exist. It is a myth largely proliferated through religious dogma and ignorance. It is clear, based on evidence and reasoned logic, that all the equal rights of marriage should be offered to our gay friends and neighbors.

Now, on to the issues of polygamy, bestiality and child marriage. I believe, like homosexual marriage, each of these things should stand or fall on their own merits. Let's consider whether or not ten year olds should have the right to marry one another. I imagine, as a reasonable society, we would ask some critical questions like this:

What do the cognitive and developmental sciences say about emotional maturity at age ten? Are ten year olds forward thinking enough to make an informed decision of such importance? Are ten year olds capable of experiencing a happy youth with the pressures of marriage? How are they to complete their school training and become functioning members of society? What is the role of the parents? Where will they live? How will they support one another? What will their rights be? And so on, and so forth.

Based on the answers to these questions we would likely decide as a people, based on the best evidence we had, that marriage at ten years old was not a great idea. It isn't carved in stone or handed down by a god. It is a decision based on reasoned logic with supportive evidence.

And that should generally be how we approach all moral questions.

Clint Wells said...

In the case of polygamyI don't have much expertise about the legal ramifications of that. Personally, I think if a bunch of people want to marry each other they should have the right to. I would need more information to make a decision.

I do, however, find it bizarrely interesting that most religious and fundamentalist opponents to gay marriage who argue that it will lead to polygamy turn around and learn character lessons from virtuous Biblical heroes like Kind David, King Solomon, Moses, Abraham and Jacob all of whom were polygamists.

On the issue of bestiality I believe it is rape and should always be treated as such because we currently have no way of judging the consent of an animal. I have no problem whatsoever considering an animal rapist on par with a human racist. It is also especially worth pointing out how much bestiality has NOTHING to do with homosexual marriage and yet it is touted as a reasonable argument against it by people like yourself.

I'm a big fan of good arguments, especially arguments against me. Why? Because I want to be on the best side of the best argument and I have only the most faith in my argument when it triumphs over the best argument against me. In the case of homosexual marriage, the best the anti-gay advocates have to offer is unconvincing, let alone the petty attempts to correlate it with something like bestiality.

Todd, it's time to get on the right side of history. I hope you'll join us.

Respectfully,

CW

Clint Wells said...

Todd - thanks for sharing that article. Without making any comment on the crime committed, this is a clear case of inequality and discrimination.

Hopefully they will make the right decision.

CW

Robert said...

Good writing BTM.

Of course we disagree on core principals. This debate isn't about Homosexuality, its about (re)defining gender roles. Hopefully, BW and other similar churches can wake up to the reality of scripture, continue their troops (w/out sponsorship) and practice the appropriate principals of fatherhood and discipleship with their sons with out the institution of the BSA (it was never the institution's job in the first place).

Good to see, this place is awesome again.

Cal Morris said...

Todd,RJ
i'd like to preface this by making clear that i'm not addressing nor engaging in the topic at hand-homosexuality/boyscouts-rather the manner and tone in which it has been handled.that said...
i'm angered.i don't even have a facebook page and have never commented on a blog before this.but brian is a dear friend of my husband and mine and i'm sad more than anything...it just seems to be a thoughtful persons lot in life to have rocks (oh, i'm sorry, i mean TRUTH)thrown at them no matter how much they try to be vulnerable and genuinely journey.it is (and might always be)my issue with God-why He doesn't just graciously remove the assholes of the world for the rest of us.
Here's the thing: i know both of you more than i want to admit...i came from and was part of a whole world of people just like yourselves.i had a scripture for any struggle anyone had.i had an answer for every tear.i had a judgement for any behavior unlike my own.and the best part about it was I WAS JUSTIFIED!it was all IN HIS NAME.after all,JESUS HIMSELF OFFENDED PEOPLE...if you were offended by me or something i addressed as sinful,why-that was all part of walking my faith and to be expected.i was a great martyr (perhaps not as great as either of you...but good).
HERE'S WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW:
-i didn't have a clue what it meant to consider another.their story.their past.what kind of day had brought them to this particuar moment.what they might need first before i shoved the most priceless,beautiful gift i know of into their wounded,vulnerable,aching chest.i still don't know how to listen well.
-that i could be and often was wrong.i had read the scriptures as a human and i erred.i don't know God,nor can i begin to know HOW He works on another.i'm greatful He wants a relationship with me.
-what long-suffering Love really was...and what it would cost me.there isn't enough wine,nor drugs,nor tears for that.
-that the God i believed (believe) in doesn't need defending.and most certainly not at a struggling humans expense.i'm finding He stands just fine on His own and (i have to believe)BETTER than my attempts to solidify Him ever could.
-how insecure i was in my faith.i had to enter into every argument.and i had to win.i mean,i believed in the ONE TRUE GOD right?He always wins.that's what He does-WINS.that's WHY He went to the cross is it not?TO WIN?
Congratulations both of you-you won!!!!!your "truth"-filled,scripture-laden response defended your god well!no need that you neither heard,nor loved well.don't bother asking questions and sitting with someone in hard,awkward,uncomfortable places for long periods of time..just aching with them.don't walk away and wonder where the FUCK God's door actually is so you can beat it down with your bare hands and-bleeding-find HIM so you can beat on HIS chest until He makes the pain stop.NO.
Just keep doing what it is you do best.surely you'll be championed by all those around you-your heterosexual wives,your legitimate children,your identical friends,those you "mentor"...perhaps they'll even want to know more of this Jesus which you so fluently speak of.
Brian and Clint have been gracious to both of you (which is growth for each of them)...more than-i venture-either of you have ever been.
In my name,
heather morris

Jawan said...

respectful conversation is grand....thanks. God didn't condone the alternative marriages in the Bible, he permitted them. Paul even wrote to Corinth of their deep sexual sin yet expressed great affection and concern in his letters to them of God's moral absolutes.

Todd Higey said...

Heather,

Brian cast the first stone. He said in an open letter to my Church that my belief that God forbids homosexuality was motivated by irrational fear. I simply pointed out that one's motivation for a belief has no bearing on whether the belief is true or false.

Matthew Jackson said...

Todd,
You just validated Heather's eloquent point with your insecure response. Not that it needed validation.

Ania said...

Youre so inspirational!! I LOVE Your blog! I’m new to the blogging family, mind helping me out? www.littlestoryofmy.blogspot.com thanks! Love Peace! <3

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