Friday, November 27, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration Part V: Kinds of Marriage

The Manhattan Declaration is a declaration written to present a particular religious view on moral issues regarding life, marriage, and religious liberty. The Declaration is so filled with holes and inconsistencies that they easily identify the document as being, not the work (or the word) of some divine wisdom, but the flawed work of mortals - and bigoted, arrogant, self-serving morals at that.

They are the words of people who recognize - either consciously or unconsciously that, "Do as I command," tends to be far less effective then, "Do as God commands and I am the word of God," and so they give in to a craving to assign their bigotries and prejudices to God in a document that they called the Manhattan Declaration.

(See: Manhattan Declaration: A Call to Christian Conscience.")

I have identified a number of flaws already - flaws that a fair and humane person would have recognized, but the authors, blinded by their bigotries, their arrogance, and their self-serving desires made themselves did not recognize.

Another of the flaws that no fair and just God would endorse, but which fills the needs of a bigoted human seeking to inflict harms on the interests of others and coat it in an illusion of legitimacy, is the claim that if we permit homosexual marriages we must also permit heterosexual marriages.

They make these argument in spite of the fact that heterosexual incestuous marriage has none of the flaws that the authors suggest are reasons to condemn homosexual marriage. Heterosexual incestuous couples can have children and, in having children, have an interest in seeing the marriage protected so that both parents can serve in raising that child. The child would have a mother and a father. As such, all of the arguments these bigots offer for protecting the institution of marriage are arguments for protecting and preserving heterosexual incestuous marriage.

If there is a reason to reject heterosexual incestuous marriage, then it is independent of the reasons for rejecting homosexual marriage. This places the bigots who use this argument in a logical bind.

If there is no independent reason to justify condemning heterosexual incestuous marriage, then these bigots themselves have provided the justification for recognizing these marriages as proper and legitimate marriages within their definition.

If, on the other hand, an independent reason to condemn heterosexual incestuous marriage exists, then it is not the case that permitting homosexual marriage implies permitting heterosexual incestuous marriage - because heterosexual incestuous marriage would still run afowl of this "independent reason."

The same dilemma applies to plural marriages. Plural messages, likewise, can result in children and for the same of whom the marriage should be protected and preserved. In fact, many of the arguments these bigots give for the value of heterosexual marriage are even more true of a polygamous marriage. The death of a single parent or an accident causing permanent injury, the loss of a job, or severe illness is far more devastating to a two-parent family than to a multi-parent family. So, these bigots themselves provide us with reason to recognize and protect these marriages.

If there is any independent reason to reject these marriages it is not in virtue of what they have in common with homosexual marriages (because they have far more in common with heterosexual marriages), but must be some other reason. This "other reason" buts the bigot in the same bind that they are in with incestuous marriage.

A fair and just person would see these flaws - or at least be able to show that he put a responsible effort into finding them. Any god created by such a person would also be fair and just - a god that also condemned the bigoted, arrogant, self-serving people who irresponsibly blinded themselves to these moral problems.

However, the authors of the Manhattan Doctrine have shown themselves to be too deeply blinded by their bigotry to examine their own arguments for signs of unfairness and injustice. They are not looking to do what is right. They are looking to give their own bigoted, arrogant, cruel, unjust sentiments an illusion of legitimacy. They do this by inventing a God that is just as bigoted, arrogant, cruel, and unjust as they are and then declaring, "These are not my actions. These are commanded by God" - a god the bigot has created in his own image.

As it turns out, there are, in fact, independent reasons to justify condemning heterosexual incestuous marriage (and, by extension, other forms of incestuous marriage). These reasons have nothing to do with the problems of genetic illness. It would scarcely be considered just to nullify a marriage on the grounds of the genetic inferiority of any children that may result.

The argument against incestuous marriage is grounded on the real-world observation of the great deal of harm and suffering that results from incestuous abuse generally. The only way we could permit heterosexual incestuous marriage is if we were to lower the social barriers against incestuous relationships generally. Lowering the psychological barriers against these types of relationships runs the very real risk of causing a significant increase in the amount of overall incestuious sexual abuse. People will act to fulfill the most and strongest of their desires (given their beliefs). A weaker aversion to incestuous relationships can not help but result in an increase in incestuous acts.

So, the many and strong reasons we have for reducing these types of abuse and the harms they cause are many and strong reasons for promoting an overall aversion to incestuous relationships. It is an aversion fed somewhat by a natural disinclination towards incestuous relationships. However, nature's inclination is clearly not as strong as it should be - given the number of events that still occur, and the harms that could be prevented if the aversion were stronger. Thus, morality calls for socially strengthening (though its moral institution) this (amoral) natural aversion.

The moral institutions for strengthening that aversion catches incestuous marriage in its net. An inversion to incestuous relationships necessarily implies an aversion to incestuous marriage. The result is a moral prohibition on such marriages.

However, this moral prohibition says nothing about the morality of homosexual marriages (other than to say that homosexual incestuous marriage should also be prohibited - a conclusion argument that the 'genetic immorality of incest' theory cannot handle).

This argument will not appease the bigoted, arrogant, self-serving authors of the Manhattan Declaration. It will not justify the harms that they seek to inflict on others. They want an argument that will give an illusion of legitimacy to their own behavior, motivated as it is by their own unjust and unkind prejudices. The clearly flawed argument that they wrote into the Manhattan Declaration serves that purpose – as long as they blind themselves to its flaws. But blinding oneself to reason is something that bigots have historically shown themselves to be quite good at.


Anonymous said...

Interesting how you label the writers of this declaration "bigots". I read the declaration, and noted that the wording was not hostile, but concerned about the direction society is heading. You state that you want to leave the world a better place. Just by using rudeness in your arguments, you have lost my respect, and good luck trying to impact me for your narrow-minded "ethics".

George Taylor said...


"Ethics" are relative and arbitrary, as is "morality", both based on subjective determinations. Further, there are no absolutes, as all people have a different viewpoint, dependant on concensus, culture, religious outlook, and period in man's history.

Surely you must realize that.

Hence, your vociferous condemnation of the Manhattan Declaration strikes me as being just as bigoted as any of those "bigoted" remarks uttered or written by religious fanatics, militant gays, black panthers, klansmen or nazis.

That said, all people, not just those who agree with your arbitrary position, have the right to their opinion, to promulgate it, and they have the right to organize with those so allied.

If you don't like that, I suggest that you learn to be a little more "tolerant" of those whose positions you disagree with.

Incidentally, I am an atheist too, and have been one for many decades.


George Taylor

Alonzo Fyfe said...


Your statement that the wording in the Declaration is not hostile. The whole purpose of the Marriage section of the Declaration was to declare a hostile attitude towards homosexual marriage. Yes, they tried to wrap their bigotry in a very pretty package. However, as my argument shows, this pretty package was built to hide some very ugly bigotry. And bigots do not deserve any type of respect. Any respect that you show a bigot is respect that must first be taken away from those whose interests the bigot seeks to harm.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

George Taylor

So, you wrote a piece condemning my position on the grounds that I condemned the position of somebody else and condemning the position of others is somehow bad (because everything is relative).

You are writing here as if to say that what I wrote was objectively wrong because there is no objective wrongness. "You are to be criticized for your opinion on the grounds that no opinion shall be criticized."

Moral subjectivism is as incoherent as any religious morality.

I hold that there are moral facts - a position that I have defended throughout the 4+ years that I have been writing this blog, the details of which you can find by referencing the FAQ on the right side of this blog page.

And I have no obligation to be "tolerant" of those who have devoted their energies to doing real harm to real people. In fact, being tolerant of those who do harm for no good reason means turning your back on their victims - like being tolerant of the person who rapes children is to turn your back on the children they would rape.

Anonymous said...

I am still not clear on how you get to come up with the judgement of "bigot" on the writers of the Manhattan Declaration. I think you are bordering on thought control. I would think twice before labeling people you don't really know are wrong in their beliefs. I wonder how you would feel if someone labeled you a "bigot" simply because you don't believe in God. In my dictionary, bigot is defined as one who is intolerant of the opinions of others. You seem to fit that description. And before you bite back, consider this, if there is no God, then there is no equality either. You can't have it both ways. The party with the biggest mouth and biggest stick is the winner, and the losers will just have to put up and shut up. Is that the kind of world you want to live in?

Andy said...

Great observation that their points against homosexual marriage imply that we should protect heterosexual incestuous marriage and polygamous marriages. I've been arguing about gay marriage for years and I've never realized that. Thanks a lot!

Andy said...

Also, I think you made a typo when you said:

is the claim that if we permit homosexual marriages we must also permit heterosexual marriages.

I think you meant to say "heterosexual incestuous marriages."

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.