Coalition for Marriage

News today of the launch of a new campaign in response to the Government’s soon to be announced consultation on same-sex marriage. Coalition for Marriage is headlined by former Archbishop George Carey, the former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay, seven cross party MPs and four currently serving Diocesan Bishops. I would expect the key names on the signatory list to increase over the next few days as other Christian leaders and those of other faiths are brought on board.

Four points are made by the coalition.

MARRIAGE IS UNIQUE

Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman. Marriage reflects the complementary natures of men and women. Although death and divorce may prevent it, the evidence shows that children do best with a married mother and a father.

PROFOUND CONSEQUENCES

If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People’s careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?

NO NEED TO REDEFINE

Civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage so there’s no need to redefine marriage. It’s not discriminatory to support traditional marriage. Same-sex couples may choose to have a civil partnership but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.

SPEAK UP

People should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views. The Government will be launching a public consultation on proposals to redefine marriage. This will provide an opportunity for members of the public to make their views known.

Of these, the second is the weakest. The “slippery slope” argument might have some merit in that currently in Canada there are legal moves afoot to de facto legalise polygamy, but this action is based not on legislation but rather judicial interpretation. There is no move in the UK to legalise polygamy, and anyway, polygamy and same-sex marriage should each be opposed on the basis of their own merits (or demerit) rather than an attempt to simply link them.

Point three though is interesting and was covered in part by an interesting article on Conservative Home last week by Andrew Lilico (published the morning after the night before when we had dinner together and discussed this very issue).

For some reason that escapes me, some people seem to want civil partnership legally re-named “gay marriage”, even though it’s socially called that anyway.  And for some other reason beyond human ken, some other people seem to object.  I’ve tried to understand why – and am about to give you my pitiful efforts to make sense of the debate – but the truth is that I really don’t get it.

The argument in favour appears to be that some people don’t think a civil partnership is a “real” marriage.  And for some reason the people that worry about this think more people will regard gay marriages as real marriages if they are called “marriages”.  But how will that change anything?  A marriage between a man and a woman is traditionally understood as a particular kind of relationship.  And, without getting too gory, to be a “marriage” that relationship has to be consummated in a very mechanically specific way (case law is quite clear about this; Bill Clinton would doubtless approve).  That particular form of consummation is, by definition, not available to homosexual couples.  So they can’t have consummated “marriages” in the traditional sense.  It doesn’t follow that their relationships are bad – any more than the fact that a woman isn’t a man makes her bad.  If you’re a woman, you’re a woman.  And if you are a homosexual couple, your marriages cannot be “consummated” in the technical sense traditionally understood.  That’s not an ethical point – it’s a purely mechanical one.

So, no matter what you call it, a gay marriage will always be a “gay marriage” and a straight marriage will always be something different.  We can call them the same thing, if you like, but that doesn’t change the substance of the matter any more than if we insisted that men and women should always be referred to as “persons” meant there ceased to be a difference between being a male person and a female person.

This is obvious – so obvious it’s barely worth saying.  So given that gay marriages and straight marriages are mechanically different (and cannot be otherwise), why would it matter if they had slightly different names?

And on the other side, why would it matter if they had the same name?  Some people seem to imagine that there is some special religious content to the word “marriage”, but I just can’t see that.  We called it a marriage when Elizabeth Taylor was on her eighth – hardly “until death do us part”!  Most people called it a “marriage” when Britney Spears was “married” for 55 hours in 2004.  So it’s not as though we are desperately protective of the term!

I can see two very marginal concerns.  One is that Anglican Churchmen are entitled to conduct legal weddings.  The state traditionally claimed that that implied that any couple legally entitled to marry was legally entitled to demand of an Anglican minister that he / she married them.  The church has always denied that the state had such legal jurisdiction – this goes back to one of those ancient and arcane church-state demarcation disputes.  Notionally, the state traditionally claims that a couple including a divorcee is entitled to demand that an Anglican minister marry them.  The Church’s position has always officially been that divorcees may not remarry.  (Indeed, I even once attended a church in which the minister even objected to reading out the bans of marriage for divorcees, and did so with the preamble “Under protest, and only because it is required of me by law, I publish the bans of marriage of…”)  The Church, though, has left it to the conscience of the vicar whether he / she would conduct such marriages.

Presumably there is some chance that, if there were one legal form of marriage including for homosexuals, some gay couple would seek to have a minister marry them, and when he or she refused, there would be a attempt to bring a court case – much as has in fact happened for registrars.  But why couldn’t this be dealt with just as the divorcee issue has been – by sweeping it under the carpet; by the police refusing to bring the case or the courts refusing to hear it?  The Church, remember, denies even that the state has the legal authority to make a law requiring marriage-overseeing by Anglican priests – that’s surely not a can of worms the state needs to open again now, and without its being opened there cannot be the risk identified.

The second vague quibble one might have with calling gay marriages “marriages” for legal purposes goes back to this gory business of consummation.  If gay marriages are to be legal marriages, then we must either abandon the notion of consummation or have something that counted as “consummation” for gay couples.

Abandoning consummation would obviously involve re-writing quite a lot of case law.  It could also be a problem for anyone that wanted to restrict consummating behaviour to after the marriage ritual.  Those believing in consummation following the marriage ritual might want a clear line not to cross beforehand.

The latter path would be tricky for (again skating over gory matters) homosexual relationships are physically / mechanically diverse (and why shouldn’t they be?) in ways that would inevitably make defining a precise “consummation” problematic.

These quibbles seem minor to me – the number of cases likely to arise in which the issue of consummation is at stake today must be tiny.  Why couldn’t we have a new category of legal contract called something else – say a “justice-based partnership” or a “covenant partnership” for those that wanted classical consummation to be part of the legal structure of their relationships and leave the word “marriage” to the rest?  The consummation issue shouldn’t really be a bar to legally terming gay marriages “marriages” if anyone really wants that.

So Andrew’s point is fundamentally this – let’s just call Civil Partnerships “Gay Marriage” and maintain “Marriage” as the heterosexual union. The alternative is to have one “marriage” for same-sex and other-sex couples, but this leads us to a number of issues, not least of which is the fact that “marriage” (as in other-sex marriage) currently has the concept of consummation which cannot be replicated in same-sex unions.

I got into a twitter conversation this afternoon with the affable @enhughesiasm on the issue of whether widening “marriage” to include same-sex marriage would affect other-sex marriage. I was failing in 140 characters to get this point across, so instead I’ll have a go here. Before I begin, let me point out that a year ago I wouldn’t have argued that same-sex marriage would affect other-sex marriage, but now I’m starting to see that is not quite the case.

One issue where I’m now clear same-sex marriage does change other-sex marriage is in this area of consummation. I’ve described before how consummation is embedded implicitly and explicitly in the legal definition of marriage, and I want to pick up something from that essay to make the point about same-sex marriage altering other-sex marriage.

How then should the State proceed if it wishes to introduce same-sex marriage? It is not simply a case of a quick re-write of the law to amalgamate Civil Partnerships and marriage into one legal entity. There are greater problems that must be addressed.

To begin with, there would need to be a revision of the understanding of the place of coitus and procreation within marriage. It is all very well for revisionists to argue that marriage is not about or should not be about coitus and procreation, but the simple fact of the matter is that at the moment that understanding is implicit in English law, both within aspects of the Marriage Act itself and its references to Church of England liturgy and in other legislation (for example the understanding that coitus and procreation within marriage has a privileged position with the birth registration legislation). In order to change this either the law needs to change to understand that coitus and procreation are optional parts of marriage (so not necessary as a good of marriage) or it needs to excise any reference to it at all. The first option is tricky as it leads to a situation where two forms of marriage would exist – marriage that recognises coitus and procreation as a good and marriage that does not. On what basis should such a distinction be made? How would such a distinction affect other aspects of law such as the privilege of a married father to register the birth of his child? Would the distinction be made on the basis of the homosex or heterosex of the spouses involved in a marriage (which would lead to an understanding of different forms of marriage based on professed sexual identity which hardly seems to fit the aim of equality that is sought be introducing same-sex marriage) or could it be chosen at will by the spouses involved? Could such a decision ever be enforced in practice?

Now, here’s the issue. What do advocates of gay marriage want? Do they want equivalent rights or do they want the right to an identical institution for both same-sex and other-sex couples? If the first then, as Andrew Lilico quite rightly pointed out last week, they have it already in the form of civil partnerships. If however the purpose is to have the identical right then we have to address issues like consummation.

If the aim is to make marriage utterly identical for same-sex and other-sex couples then that means that there cannot be distinctions in any new Marriage Act (i.e. the legislation that defines marriage) between such couples. So when it come to  handling the consummation of marriage, either the definition of consummation must be altered to a form that covers both forms of coupling or consummation must be removed from the understanding of marriage.

What cannot happen is that the Marriage Act provides for some marriages (other-sex) to be consummated and others (same-sex) not to be. That would mean that you would have two different kinds of marriage, consummated marriage and un-consummated, and same-sex couples would never be able to have the first. This is not equality.

The alternative is to remove notions of consummation from our understanding of marriage (see the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973). This however has problems of its own, and not just for defining adultery and grounds for divorce / dissolution. As I have pointed out before, the law in England recognises consummation as an essential element of marriage. That’s why married fathers can register the birth of their children whereas unmarried fathers cannot.

Removing consummation from the Marriage Act however shows up for what it is the claim that same-sex marriage will not affect other-sex marriage. Other-sex marriage cannot but be fundamentally altered by same-sex marriage by the removal of any reference to sexual union between the spouses. Of course, for a society that has already divorced sex and marriage (as opposed to the Bible which pretty much from Genesis One assumes that sex is marriage) this isn’t a problem, but we shouldn’t just rush into such an act of changing our legal definitions (even if our societal expectations are at odds with those legal definitions) without understanding what we are actually doing.

So which is it? Do the advocates of same-sex marriage want real equality, in which case they must accept that such an act will alter the nature of other-sex marriage in so doing. Or instead, do they want a different form of marriage which doesn’t encompass obligations of consummation and the like, in which case why can’t we just rename Civil Partnerships “Same-Sex Marriage” whilst maintaining it’s clear legal distinction from traditional marriage?

What do you think?

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  • Cerebusboy

     
    If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. 

     Ah yes, poor, marginalised Lord Carey (!) and his ilk. In contrast, this country used to have a death penalty for homosexuality, gay people were overtly criminalised (homosexuality being illegal until 1980), and, as short a time ago as 1999, the encoded bigotries of Section 28 meant that Libraries (amongst others) were precluded from serving fully and appropriately a significant community of people in the UK.  The focus on power by Cary et all is unwittingly revealing.   And the only reason that people don’t get fired for being gay these days is because of the demonised “gay lobby”. 

     It’s even funnier when the reactionary lobby play the history card (the BC/AD calendar is no excuse for appearing to believe that human history began with judeo-christian morality). Wasn’t rape within marriage legal until (IIRC) 1994? And for reasons that flow logically from the pre-existing legal rules and ethos in regard to marriage, that are now being held up as a kind of Holy Writ? I think many a feminist, irrespective of one’s views on homosexuality, would say that challenging ‘traditional’ thinking on marriage (in the secular world) is not only morally permissible but morally necessary. 

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      So you’d replace the oppression of one minority with the oppression of another?

      • Cerebusboy

         Of course not. I’m contrasting genuine persectution and discrimination with the fictional, emotive “persecution” being tactically invoked by Carey et all. The “Christian” Institute tend to have their cases thrown out of court for a reason, and I defy you to find me one example of an orthodox/conservative Christian being fired in the UK *for* being an orthodox/conservative Christian.  I will say that anyone who, like me, is a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church, will (or shoudl) know of our church’s persecution at the hands of other Christians. That is one reason why the ‘secular state’ – that invariably gets demonised by the conservative Christian lobby – is far more likely to safeguard rights for everyone than the theocratic equivalent. As for cultural values changing: I can’t exactly recall conservative Christians displaying much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Larry Summers was hounded out of Harvard for merely raising the question of gender differences (and complimentarianism is supposedly a feature of Orthodoxy, no?). The Church no operates in a world where, if it has not entirely capitulated to feminism (which, as anyone who’s sat throught a man-demonising sermon in a nominally evangelical church can testify, is in itself a disputable thesis) it has at least to accept that a majority of peole in the UK are now closer to feminism than they are to the gender ideology of a John Calvin (or St.Paul).

         Carey et all are not objecting to the imposition of majority values and people being persecuted for their beliefs. They are raising the alarm because they fear (not necessarily innacurately) that their ideological team are in danger of losing the whip-hand.

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          One day Ryan, you’ll start arguing on a basis other than, “but he hit that person”. What I mean is, address the arguments you are responding to rather than always just bringing up other issues which might be important but do not have any bearing on the exact issue at hand.

          • Cerebusboy

             Ryan has, believe it or not, a life (ish), and an essay due tomorrow, so will respond to any points you think I’ve ducked in due course. 

             And I’m not saying two wrongs make a right. I’m contrasting a genuine wrong – past persecution of LGBT people – with the fictional kind that Carey is invoking. I am doing this because your post quoted this and it is therefore perfectly legitimate to respond to it  

             And the opening paragraph is entirely relevant. Societal values do indeed change. I wonder what percentage of people in the UK are comfortable with the phallocentricism of “consummation”, let alone how many view it as a key component of marriage? There are indeed all sorts of dusty anachronisms in UK law, so it might be more appropriate to say that your posited option a) (changing the nature of straight marriage) is in some senses moving it closer to how marriage is actually viewed by a majority in the UK rather than imposing a change on an institution at the behest of the gay minority (which is Carey et als alarmist view)

             I was unaware that, if a post gives 5 reasons/arguments/ideas, readers are supposed to refer to either all of them (is this an exam hall? ;-)) or none at all. 

    • Tom Jones

      I must say, Ryan,  Lord Carey never fails to amuse; I particularly liked the chutzpa in calling equal marriage “the biggest power grab in history”, thereby overshadowing even Henry VIII’s redefinition of the whole English Church to accommodate HIS idea of marriage. (Others considered it merely renaming concubinage and paid for it with their lives.)

    • Cerebusboy

       Ooh, popular thread!

       If you’re having troll problems, I feel bad for you son
       I got 99 comments but a bitch ain’t one!

       (with apologies to Peter and indeed Jay-Z) ;-)

       More seriously, and despite the hassle I’m sure it causes you, I’d say the frequency with which you start threads that get 100+ comments Peter, from all sections of the ideological spectrum, is something very much to be proud (in the non-sinful sense!) of. Keep up the good work :-)

      • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

        We aim to please!

  • ed77

    Cerebus, it’s like you haven’t even read the post!

    • Cerebusboy

       Well, I have, and your not actually addressing any of my points or indeed those in the original post suggests a characterisation of your comment like your characterisation of mine

      • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

        What would be interesting Ryan is if you could engage with the substantive points at the end of my piece. Any chance of that?

        Quoting Disqus :

  • Tome Jones

    So, Peter, are you going to sign Lord Carey’s round robin? (or should it be robbin’?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      If you were me, would you?

      Quoting Disqus :

      • Tom Jones

        Well, I hope you don’t. Even if you don’t think Holy Matrimony is open to same sex couples I think you have more integrity than to sign up to this piece of grandstanding – some might say attempts to bully the government.

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          I did. I don’t think it’s bullying any more than advocating a change is. I might disagree with some of the finer details, and I am also very clear that Civil Partnerships are here to stay, but I am convinced that “marriage” means a particular thing.

  • Tom Jones

    I agree that consummation is an interesting point – and possibly the only interesting one. Certainly if it were insisted upon (and proof required – bloodied sheet dangled out of the window as they do in rural Turkey) I imagine quite a few marriages (and not just civil ones) wouldn’t count. The Catholic Church regards non-consummation as one of the major grounds for annulment, even in some cases refusing marriage to people who obviously couldn’t fulfil this condition (though the Church does allow that in certain types of “mariage blanc”  the sacrament of Holy Matrimony may be conferred, for example where both parties vow celibacy beforehand, as it is thought that Mary and Joseph did this – were there sacraments BEFORE Jesus set up his Church?) Presumably in theological thinking it is the act of penile-vaginal intercourse which by which the partners confer the sacrament on each other and “become one flesh”. I don’t think anyone wants to claim this for anal intercourse – though I may be wrong in this! But why is consummation important for civil marriage? Surely its appearance in law was a result of the way civil marriage came into being in the first place and is not at all an essential requirement in what is otherwise a legal contract if you don’t accept the religious basis of marriage. I attended a non-church civil marriage in one of those hotels licensed to do them last weekend and there was no mention of the necessity of any kind of sex to take place – the bride’s grandmother who was one of the witnesses said to me it all seemed like a Civil Partnership.

    Did you see Ken Livingstone’s comment on Lord Carey’s latest media grab? He sees the signatories as the same old suspects who still have their thumbs in the dyke trying to hold back the tide of gay equality ” their main concern is not being for marriage but against gay rights. The issue of marriage is just the latest front on which they’ve chosen to fight their regressive battle against equality”.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/02/21/comment-gay-marriage-will-make-us-a-beacon-of-equality/

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Consummation is a key aspect of marriage – it denotes the union as a sexual union and understands marriage to naturally lead to procreation (even in some cases it does not). The case law is amazingly extensive in this area and would require some serious unravelling if the Government went down the “redefine marriage to include any two adults” route.

      I’m not sure where this “civil marriage” idea comes from. The Marriage Act defines marriage as a single entity, solemnized in different places. There is no such thing as “civil marriage” or “religious marriage”, just “marriage” solemnized either in an authorised religious environment or by a superintendent registrar. And just because the registrar didn’t mention these particular consummatory aspects of marriage, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I grant you that for most of British society they don’t care about it, but they still exist.

      • Tom Jones

         “Consummation is a key aspect of marriage – yes, I repeat, maybe to religious marriage in the minds of Catholics or some other species of Christian and the dusty fine print for lawyers to crawl over; but I contend it has no practical relevance to non-religious marriages like the couple whose wedding I attended, i.e the kind actually practiced in the real world before countless registrars who are not CofE parsons. By then it is too late; sex has already happened. Consummation surely refers to the very FIRST time. After that marriage is about something else: commitment, setting up a family – all the things gay people are capable of but the sex has in the vast majority of cases already happened. Yet you still have brides tripping down the aisle dressed in white. Your point MAY be useful in some future divorce case in the secular UK but otherwise it only means something to people who take a theological view. Marriage, one man, one woman till death do them part is more honoured in the breach than in the observance. Law has to keep up – it always has done – with the mores of society. The Church of England usually follows dragging its heals. How can you ask us to respect that?

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          Surely I’m asking you to have respect for English law? You may not like the fact that English law considers consummation integral to marriage, but that won’t change the simple fact that it is.

          And let’s be clear, I’m not arguing that it needs to remain so, rather that we (i) need to understand what we are doing if we introduce non-sex specific marriage and (ii) can finally put to bed the canard that same-sex marriage will not in any way impact on any aspect of other-sex marriage.

          • RevDave

            Surely some people already marry and don’t have sex (eg very old or disabled, or injured etc) AND transgender people can already marry and the definition of transgender includes people who have not had gender redesignation surgery! SO I guess that case law will quickly find a way round this issue if marriage is opened to same sex partners – it’ll probably just assert that since same-sex marriage is now legal, the sex element will just mean a sexual encounter that reachs orgasm, rather than coitus.  I don’t think people will see it as discrimination – it’s just a matter of practicalities… just like it isn’t seen as discrimination for sports to bar transgender athletes!

            The funny thing is, that religious rights counted as nothing when it came to churches wanting to refuse to marry transgender people, but sports were allowed to discriminate by barring transgender women (ie genetic men) from competing in women’s sports! Funny, isn’t it, in the UK SPORTS have more right to work according to their own beliefs and rules than RELIGIONS do… or, indeed, almost anyone or any group!!??

             

            • RevDave

              Err, although religious ministers are allowed to refiuse to marry transgender people… if they find out that is the case!

            • Tom Jones

              Dave, you make some very interesting points. It had crossed my mind that regendered people, legally married, might have intercourse with redesigned genitalia but could or would this be called “consummation” legally speaking?Years ago when April Ashley tried to get her gender transition legally recognised for marriage purposes Lord Justice Ormerod who had been a practising doctor before he took up the law issued the judgment that “an orifice is not necessarily a vagina” even when it is made in the same place where you would expect a vagina to be. Things must have changed since then. Oddly Iran is much more tolerant of gender redesignation than it is of same-sex activity, even though technically (if you follow Ormerod) the only difference between marriage between a male and a transgendered one and two whole males involves one less penis.

              Peter, what makes you think I don’t respect the law when  I am simply questioning if consummation is now a legal (if not theological) dead letter when the majority of couples come to their marriages for other reasons than to avoid fornication, as the Prayer Book has it? In the vast majority of cases it is way too late for that. As for the difficulty of unpicking consummation out of the legal definition – why? Making a big thing of it is another way the opponents of same sex marriage try to bolster their case (which Ken Livingstone and other liberal minded people see as a smokescreen anyway – and that’s perhaps why you shouldn’t have signed (because Stephen Green is trying to drum up support for it)! Your argument that it will change other people’s marriages because of the change in definitions looks a bit like barrel scrapping when you have already admitted that the definition could be changed (only it might be difficult). If it is a matter of justice – and equality is surely that – then it doesn’t matter how difficult it is. Surely you can see that?

              As I said earlier civil marriage was closely modelled on the religious version except that the ceremony itself had to avoid religious language because at the time it was thought this would somehow compromise church marriages. In that respect it is a kind of marriage lite and the ceremony was meant to be. You may be too young to know but the Catholic Church used to do the same kind of thing with so-called “mixed marriage” – those between a Catholic and a non-Catholic. No candles were lit on the altar, no flowers allowed, the priest wore only a surplice and stole no cope, no music and certainly no nuptial mass. The couple were not admitted to be seated in the sanctuary – and the whole thing was meant to appear as penitential, not to say hole in the corner, as possible. It was a dismal affair for most couples and I suspect the Anglican bishops had much the same in mind when Parliament finally gave way to allow civil marriage as a way of mopping up remarriages after divorce, I imagine. But since then the Anglican Church has given in over that too. But wasn’t it odd that Rowan Williams didn’t allow Charles and Camilla a church wedding  if there is no distinction between civil weddings and church ones, as you say. 

              Your point about no distinction between Church solemnised marriages and registry office ones may apply in law and the Anglican theology but the Catholic Church has a whole load of rules about which marriages it recognises and which it doesn’t – Catholics who marry before a registrar may commit a mortal sin but conveniently they get a get-out-of-jail free card when they dump husband number on, free to have a second white wedding in Church, the first being invalid even if consummated – as Nicole Kidman did.

              • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                To answer one of your questions, consummation requires ejaculation within the vagina (extensive case law on this would you believe), so a male to female transsexual could be part of a consummated marriage, but a female to male not. Of course, consummation is not necessary for marriage, but it is understood as one of the indicators.

                • Cerebusboy

                   Ah, so a couple who have full vaginal intercourse, but whose male partner chooses to end the act in a more modern manner (as the saying goes, let the reader understand) have not technically consummated the marriage? what is that, if not a further proof that “impacting” on the assorted legal indicators of marriage, as gay marriage may do, is very far from being a (let alone necessarily) bad thing?  

                  From your perspective, if you wanted marriage in UK law to *exactly* match the orthodox, Christian understanding of marriage then surely you’d concede that much revision would indeed be required, indicating the dishonesty in pretending like the current UK official/legal understanding of marriage is a Holy, Eternal, Droppeth-From-the-Heavens institution?  

                  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                    To answer in turn….

                    i) Yesii) I’m not arguing that it would be a good or a bad thing, merely that it *would* be a thingiii) I don’t think that’s ever going to happen AND it neatly avoids engaging with what English law actually says

                    • Cerebusboy

                       ii) Stands out: you’ll agree that liberals claiming gay marriage won’t impact the straight kind is in response to conservatives invoking the soon-we’ll-have-polygamy-and-bestial-“marriages” slippery slope argument and should be understood in that context? I mean, come on Peter, when Carey et al talk about gay marriage impacting the existing kind they very much do not mean (nor do they say) that “if gays are allowed to marry we might have to revise the significance of ‘consummation’ in UK law!” 

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      No I won’t. The “you don’t have to have a gay marriage if you don’t want one” line is simply a diversion to avoid engaging with how equalising marriage will fundamentally alter every single other-sex marriage in existence.

                    • Tom Jones

                      Assertions, assertions. It is clear it will broaden definitions, but not *fundamentally* alter actual marriages. Especially if you regard them as sacramental. If you don’t then aren’t they ultimately just contracts? Forget all the typology about Christ and his Church, that hardly applies to majority of non-Christian marriages.

                    • Cerebusboy

                       If most people getting married dont’ see consummation as relevant to their unions, and in fact (“sexual combatibility” being something people look for in long-term partners) “consummate” their relationships long before marriage, then is the potential revision not a more honest reflection of practise? Isn’t revising legal anochronism that lack current relevance not usually and legitimately accepeted as a good thing irrespective of one’s view on gay marriage per se? And HOW exactly will revising legal discourse consummation impact you (or anyone else’s) marriage?

                • Tom Jones

                  In Roman Catholic theology of sex, ejaculation inside the vagina is the ONLY form of sex permitted. All other sites, internal or external, are forbidden under pain of mortal sin. So sex once initiated has to be continued to orgasm. The Church even instructs the position a couple may assume to achieve this; there is ONLY one, coitus adspectans, face to face, the good ole’ missionary position. A husband may NOT take his woman from behind, even if he is careful to insert his penis in the right orifice, because the Church argues, it is animal to do it that way. What goes unspoken is that the wife presenting her butt to her husband might seem like an Eve-ish invitation to indulge in a little anal……”and what red-bloodied man could resist that?” thinks the celibate moral theologian. A heterosexual friend assures me it is all to easy to slip your penis into the wrong orifice if you are playing “that way round”, so maybe the Church’s prohibition has a point, especially since this was another form of birth control in Catholic countries where condoms could not be got hold of. 

                  As far as Mark Driscoll’s permission to indulge in little marital anal to relieve the monotony of ordinary open-to-life pelvic thrusting, das ist ausgesprochen verboten, as the Pope would say.

                  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould


                    In Roman Catholic theology of sex, ejaculation inside the vagina is the ONLY form of sex permitted. All other sites, internal or external, are forbidden under pain of mortal sin.

                    Oh, I think we might need that claim sourcing.

                    As far as Mark Driscoll’s permission to indulge in little marital anal to relieve the monotony of ordinary open-to-life pelvic thrusting…

                    That’s a gross misrepresentation of what Driscoll actually writes on the subject isn’t it? Can you actually quote us the relevant section from “Real Marriage” or are you just going on hearsay?

                    • Tom Jones

                      1. Every Catholic knows this, or should. You as a Protestant can’t be expected to know that the Catholic teaching on sex is expressly that every act of lovemaking that advances to genital activity must be open to the transmission of life. I can’t give you the reference off the top of my head but will when I have time to look it up.

                      2. Are you denying that Driscoll has said anal between married couples is not unscriptural then?

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      1. I’d still like chapter and verse please

                      2. No, I’m saying that the way you have made him sound is not what he wrote. I want you to give us the full quote, ‘cos I think if you *really* think Driscoll says what you have him saying then you obviously haven’t read “Real Marriage”.

                    • Guglielmo Marinaro

                      You’ll find the reference for that in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae”. Probably the same words or equivalent ones will also be found in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, but I have never had a copy of that.

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      Still going to need the actual quote!

                    • Tom Jones

                      You are quite right Guglielmo. Paul VI disappointed Catholics when he issued Humanae Vitae .

                      http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

                      with a summary here

                      http://catholicinsight.com/online/church/humanae/article_855.shtml

                      It failed to adjust the Church’s teaching on artificial both control even though he was regarded as a liberal pope in many other respects. The only form of family planning allowed was the so-called Rhythm Method which allowed the married couple to adjust the timing of  coitus to avoid the wife’s fertile cycle. But before  Pius XII issued Casti Conubii as a direct response to the Lambeth Conference of 1930 that for the first time allowed artificial birth control in limited circumstances.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casti_conubii

                      http://www.scborromeo.org/docs/casti_connubii.pdf

                      In particular see paras 54 and 55 where “the sin of Onan”, coitus interrupts or pulling out is condemned. It quotes St Augustine “The Lord killed him for it”.

                      A useful summary of events leading up to Casti Conubii can be found here

                      http://www.pathsoflove.com/texts/casti-connubii-outline/

                      Catholic Ethics fleshes out the teaching of the Church. One writer on the subject is Ronald L. Conte Jr. Under Marriage Sins he says this

                      “2. Certain kinds of sexual acts are intrinsically evil and are therefore always immoral, regardless of circumstances, intention, or purpose.

                      Examples of intrinsically disordered sexual acts include: masturbation, homosexual acts, any sexual acts with more than two participants, oral sex, anal sex, manual sex, sexual acts involving objects or devices, etc.

                      These sexual acts can never be justified regardless of circumstances, intention, or purpose. These sexual acts are unnatural because they violate the natural law. The human person was designed by God so that sexual relations would consist in acts of genital-to-genital intercourse, open to life, between one man and one woman. Other kinds of sexual acts are contrary to this intention and purpose of God, which He designed within human nature.

                      If you know that it is an unnatural sexual act, then you know that it is wrong. You do not need know the circumstances, or the intention, or the end result. You can be certain that it is wrong simply because it is an unnatural sexual act. Unnatural sexual acts are always wrong, even if done with a good intention or purpose. Each and every unnatural sexual act is always objectively gravely immoral, even if it is preceded by, combined with, or followed by an act of natural marital sexual relations. These acts are immoral, even if such acts are between a man and a woman who are married to each another. Always means always. There are no exceptions.

                      By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2352)

                      So, for example, a husband cannot deliberately stimulate the genital organs of his wife in order to give her sexual pleasure, for such an action is defined within the Catechism as a type of sexual act which is “intrinsically and gravely disordered.” The masturbation of another person is no less immoral than the masturbation of oneself. And regardless of whether this “deliberate stimulation of the genital organs” is done with the hand or the mouth or an object, it remains essentially the same kind of act, one which is intrinsically and gravely disordered, according to the Catechism.”

                      http://www.catechism.cc/articles/marriage-sins.htm

                      In a Q&A section he says

                      “5. Is the missionary position the only moral sexual position?

                      No. Any sexual position of natural genital-to-genital intercourse between a husband and wife thereby retains the marital, unitive, and procreative meanings, and so would have a good moral object. But to be moral, each and every knowingly chosen act, in addition to having a good moral object, must also have good intention, and the good consequences must outweigh any bad consequences.”

                      Well I am not sure if that is how it was always taught, otherwise where did the notion of the “Missionary Position” come from? Or more precisely “coitus adspectans”, clearly a technical term. I remember that Milton in Paradise Lost  has Adam and Eve having sex before the Fall. He describes before and after and there is a difference. But here is how Milton imagined prelapsarian sex:
                      …..    half imbracing [she] leand On our first Father, half her swelling Breast Naked met his under the flowing Gold Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight Both of her Beauty and submissive Charms Smil’d with superior Love, as Jupiter On Juno smiles, when he impregns the Clouds That shed May Flowers; and press’d her Matron lip With kisses pure.        PL Book 4 lines 490-502Adam and Eve       into thir inmost bowre Handed they went; and eas’d the putting off These troublesom disguises which wee wear, Strait side by side were laid, nor turn’d I weene Adam from his fair Spouse, nor Eve the Rites Mysterious of connubial Love refus’d.PL Book 4 lines 738-743. Does that imply the missionary position?

                      Augustine seems to have raised the question of what prelapsarian sex would have been like – we can only imagine – but it unfortunately became an unrealistic ideal for centuries of Christian believers.

                      “In Eden, it would have been possible to beget offspring without foul lust. The sexual organs would have been stimulated into necessary activity by will-power alone, just as the will controls other organs. Then, without being goaded on by the allurement of passion, the husband could have relaxed upon his wife’s breasts with complete peace of mind and bodily tranquility, that part of his body not activated by tumultuous passion, but brought into service by the deliberate use of power when the need arose, the seed dispatched into the womb with no loss of his wife’s virginity. So, the two sexes could have come together for impregnation and conception by an act of will, rather than by lustful cravings” (City of God, Book 14, Chapter 26).

                       

                      As far Mark Drscoll’s _Real Marriage_ is concerned – I cannot tell a lie – I have only read reviews and listened to an extended interview between him and Justin Brierly on “Unbeliavable”.

                      http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid=%7BB568EE6E-C425-4285-BCE0-BE1CF6A6DF31%7D

                      But I still think I can come to the reasonable conclusion that what he says in Chapter 10 would not for one second get past Catholic moral theologians!

          • Cerebusboy

             (ii) If, as argued well by others here, most marriages in the UK do not involve people with much (if any) regard for “consummation” then isn’t any change rather more likely to be a sensible modernisation than than leading to the sort of apocalyptic scenarios that the no-gay marriage crowd are advocating.  The latter are talking about gay marriage leading to Polygamy and bestiality. 

             Tom’s points on consummation and stained-sheets etc are good. Aside from your theological understanding of it, is it not entirely possible that many people now getting married in the UK, who are not exactly averse to sex outside of marriage anyway, will if anything regard “consummation” as the stuff of women-as-property patriachy that can and should be sensibly updated? 

            • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

              I don’t think consummation these days has anything to do with patriarchy and its misleading to suggest otherwise.

              • Cerebusboy

                 “These days” is keys. Does your own reading, and pertinent comments on this thread, not rather suggest that marriage law involves all sorts of patriachal anachronisms and that conflating the “not religious or secular” marriage-in-UK-law with the Sacrament (or whatever Protestant term you prefer) of Christian Marriage? Carey et all quite deliberately trying to conflate the two, with some distasteful and/or unintentionally hilarious results (recall the recent Scottish rally against equal marriage that featured Christian speakers railing against polygamy to a significantly Muslim audience (!). Good enough for the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) good enough for yer man on the street, no? ;)) 

                 The argument is being made that permitting same sex marriage will lead to the downfall or end of ‘traditional marriage’. I think the reality is that most people, who perhaps don’t even know that rape in that supposedly Holy state that is the UK law’s understanding of marriage was legal until comparatively recently, and who very much do not view their unions in line with the discourse of “consumation” et all, and that they therefore might not exactly be averse to refreshing the law to reflect contemporary reality (that need not necessarily mean abandoning abiding truths and principles of course). As such, is it not highly disengenous for Cary et all to make the incest/bestiality slippery slope argument when the reality is that, if most people were aware of the anachronisms in absurdities of some parts of the legal corpus on marriage, they would view “impacting” on it as no bad thing?  

                 

          • Tom Jones

            I think you misread my last two sentences, it’s the way the Church (of England) has played catch up over marriage especially in recent times and yet Lord Carey pretends it (or he and his fellow signatories) is defending the unchanged and unchangeable eternal and unitary institution that is called marriage.

            • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

              I’m not sure they have been playing “catch up”. Rather, they’ve been helpfully clarifying what the Scriptures actually say.

              • Tom Jones

                IF, and it’s a big if, the scriptures spoke with a unitary voice that could be clarified into a single reading (open to the bishops rather than the rest of us). I am sure the Catholic bishops have also been working very hard in understanding the Bible, but they have come up with a different answer about the marriage question in particular.

            • Tom Jones

              Anyway I think Lord Carey won’t be able to take much comfort from the bulk of reader comments on his piece in the Daily Mail launching his campaign.

              http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103583/Lord-Carey-tells-David-Cameron-Letting-gays-marry-wrong.html

              Ben Goldacre doesn’t think much of Carey’s arguments either
              http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/thinking-out-loud-who-are-the-coalition-for-m

              and Martin Robbins goes further, deeming it “The irrational and sinister campaign against gay marriage”
              ‎ http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2012/feb/20/1

  • http://twitter.com/enhughesiasm Neil Hughes

    Interesting stuff, Peter, and I do understand what you were getting at on Twitter a little more now you’ve spelt it out properly.

    That said, I’m still not convinced that anything here actually amounts to a real problem. Taking the principle of assumptive parenthood for fathers as an example, I can’t see that the world would end if we removed the language of consummation from the law, and also said that we presume the male in a heterosexual couple to be the father of any children from that marriage.

    I think you’re right to point out that the whole area of consummation is way out of step with a modern view of marriage, but I still can’t see that removing it (or, I guess, restating it in a more generic fashion) would have any tangible effect on anybody, gay or straight.

    Anyway, I think it’s positive that we’re having a conversation about something substantive at least – even if it is pretty esoteric and removed from the real world. I really applaud you for decrying the ‘slippery slope’ argument; the whole ‘what, next, bestiality?!’ turn that this conversation often takes is a huge reason why a sensible conversation almost never takes place.

    As a closing remark I feel obliged to point out the most grievous error you made in the piece: you misspelled my name! It’s @enhughesiasm:twitter :p

    Pleasure, anyway.

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Mistake corrected!

      Let me ask you one thing. Do you accept that making marriage cover any two people does affect other-sex marriages since it would require a redefining of, or removal of, the legal understanding of consummation in marriage?

      • RevDave

        Of course, it WON’T make marriage cover any two people.. it will still bar close adult relatives from marrying – even if they are of the same sex.  Since such a same-sex sibling marriage, or generational marriage, couldn’t suffer the problems to such an opposite sex union, it would seem to me to be unreasonable discrimination to bar them if same-sex marriage is allowed.

        Possibly a harder question for liberals that the coitus issue?!

      • RevDave

        Of course, it WON’T make marriage cover ANY two people who love each other.. it will still bar close adult relatives from marrying – even if they are of the same sex.  

        Such a same-sex sibling marriage, or generational marriage, couldn’t suffer the potential genetic problems that such an opposite sex union could generate – if children are produced. So, as a matter of equality for everyone, it would seem to me to be unreasonable discrimination to bar close same-sex relatives who love each other from marriage if other same-sex partners can marry.

        I think that this is a much harder question to address, from a human rights point of view. that the coitus issue.  But if marriage is be redefined unnecessarily (as Conservative Home pointed out, gay marriages will still be obviously different from traditional marriages) why is the social edifice of marriage being change to suit one minority group while deliberately, but unnecessarily, excluding another?

        [please delete my previous answer - I missed a bit out] 

        • Cerebusboy

           
          why is the social edifice of marriage being change to suit one minority group while deliberately, but unnecessarily, excluding another?

           Gee, perhaps, in part, because we live in a democracy, and there is not exactly a great predominance of arguments for approving incestuous marriages nor a great deal of people who want them, let alone a significant number of people who would see such relationships as intrinsically problematic? It is not the “minority group” themselves (i.e. actual LGBT people)  who just want equal marriage for gay; most normal people now have gay friends and colleagues and tend not to lap up societal homophobia in the manner of the bad old days Carey etc are keen to get back to.  

          • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

            But then, is that not an argument to ignore the very small minority who benefit from Civil Partnerships if the majority so choose?

            • Cerebusboy

               I suspect that most people would say they indeed ‘benefited’ – in the sense of living in a country that is more relaxed, free and open – from Civil Partnerships irrespective of whether they personally know someone who has or would want to have one.  You’ll recall that David Cameron embracing a pro-gay view was necessary to make your beloved Tory party electable again!
                

          • RevDave

            As Peter said, I bet you (Cerebusboy) *really* think that it’s a matter of Human Rights that two men or two women should be able to marry.  

            What do you think is wrong with adult incest anyway?!  

            • RevDave

              Didn’t think CB would want to try to reply.  

              Peter, aren’t the issues rather to similar – a matter of natural order versus sexual desires?

              • Cerebusboy

                 Actually, Cerebus has, as mentioned previously, a life. Was planning on watching tonight’s Man U game but shall happily skip it in favour of responding to every one of your inane points if it will make you feel better. Here’s a preview. 

                  Anus’s are dirty, full of germs,  become damaged, bleed and get infected easily, and they start leaking faeces after a few sessions of penetration.  

                 Superb. How many is a “few”? 5, 6 times? Given the purported rampant promiscuity of gays and the inevitable conflation of anal sex with homosexuality per se, would that not logically mean that most gay men are in need of Pampers? That hardly tallies with reality. Got any examples of these “medical” sites, which I suspect are “medical” in the same way that creationist websites are “scientific”: i.e., not really. I think you’ll find, assuming one discounts the obvious Satinover, Cameron nonsense, that the “best” anti-anal paper in recent years counted (get this) flatulence as incontinence. Hardly the sign of a fair and honest study. And of course the prostate is the male-g spot; our bodies evolved of course, but the orgasm hot spot being situated where it is hardly supports the thesis on the “unnaturalness” of anal sex. And, tangentially, heterosexual missionary-position-as-God-intented sex can lead to all sorts of nasty medical consequences too, whereas the things that a woman’s body undergoes during lovely, fluffy, nice and normal pregnancy makes the physical consequences of the AVERAGE gay sexual counter look, from my perspective, frankly like a walk in the park. 

              • Cerebusboy

                 Actually, since I did address your inane question-begging “Do you still beat your wife?” question, here’s one for you: do you believe homosexuality should be illegal? If not, why not? After all, it’s against the bible and natural order (“!?!?!?!?”)!

            • Cerebusboy

               Ah, so in order to defend gay marriage one must also defend incest. This is the “good” old slippery slope argument; Rick Santorum, whatever else one may think of him, at least has the honesty to say what he means i.e. that gay marriage will lead logically to bestial ‘marriages’. 

               Incest: why does your average person support gay marriage? Because they tend to know stereotype-negating gay people and know that, by and large, two men falling in love and committing themselves to each other is similar to the heterosexual process.  People do not share the DNA they do with a family member than they do with a date, be that date male or female. But let me stress that the burden of proof is not on those who defend gay marriage to deal with incest. The burden of proof is on those who would claim that legalising gay marriage will lead inevitably to incest, or men marrying dogs, or paedophiles, or the apocalpyse, or whatever this week’s scare story du jour is. Does defending gay marriage also mean one must strive to prove impossible negatives? I can’t ‘prove’, as example, that gay marriage WON’T lead to the End of The World. Neither can you. Neither can anyone.

               And here, since it is the presumed ace-in-the-hole (unless you want to play the gay paedophilia card) of the slippery-slope bottom line: bestial ‘marriages’.
               
               Sensible person: Bestiality is not remotely comparable to gay unions. Animals can’t give consent.

                 Reactionary: Ah, but what about the talk of animal rights? A dog getting erection could be said to be giving consent to a morally unhealthy triste, just like homosexuals do with each other!

               Sensible person: Actually, science tells us that dogs get erections at all sorts of things, which can hardly be read as consent, aside from which animals do not have human-style consciousness, so your analogy, as per usual, doesn’t work.

               And so it goes. Please don’t “understand” the above as, say, “tangential thinking” (!).  There is, you will appreciate, only so many hours in the day, and it’s more effficient to deal with all the absurd stops on the ol’ slippery slope in one go. 

               NB: You new around here Dave? Despite being a ‘liberal’ it’s easily in my top three favourite blogs. Are you a C of E guy like Peter? Best wishes and yours in constructive dialogue,
               Ryan
               

              • RevDave

                Sorry you missed the start if the United game.  I think the ManCity-Porto game was better.

                Anyway, I wasn’t throwing around random things like bestiality, child abuse etc etc.  Rather spurious! Please debate what I’m saying.

                My point was that people still see something wrong with love between adult siblings, or love between the generations.  And it isn’t just because of the genetic issues that you alluded to – that isn’t an issue if the adult siblings, or adults from two generations, are of the same sex.. and all it means is that the couple can’t have their own genetic children!  

                The reason people still see it as wrong anyway, however much in love the adult siblings (or intergeerational couple) are, and however committed they are to each other, is that it breaks the natural order: parents and siblings have one sort of love relationship, sexual partners have another.  That’s not a million miles away from the sorts of reasons that people have / had for thinking that there is something wrong with same-sex relationships!

                ps I don’t get the “anal sex is equivalent to sex involving a vagina” argument.  Anuses are not designed for sex, they’re dirty, germ ridden, easily bleed and get infected.  They also  do tend to widen and leak (see link below – to a ‘neutral’ medical site).

                http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/sexandrelationships/sex/200901.html

                http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/sexandrelationships/sex/201087.html

                http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/sexandrelationships/sex/200930.html

                 So, I don’t think that the possibility of sexual stimulation via the sphincter or prostrate is enough to say that this is nature’s alternative to intercourse. 

                • Cerebusboy

                   Rev Dave,

                    Yeah, City game looked good, funny 5pm kick offs are a bit annoying tho! As a fan of the Glorious (ly insolvent :() Glasgow Rangers I find watching other leagues a good distraction right now!

                   You’re engaged in lots of wide-scale generalisations strikingly not supported by any attempt to cite facts.  Define the “natural order”.  There’s a big problem in theses issues in the conservatives are very slippery in conflating the Christian objection (verses in the bible) with mere cultural homophobia in a bid to build ‘consensus’. I note that the latest’ Christian’ institute alert against gay marriage claims that marriage in all cultures has been about one man and one woman. Let’s hope that anti-gay muslims don’t read that, eh? The average homophobe on the street can be forgiven for thinking that polygamy never existed, but what kind of self-styled Christian fundamentalist hasn’t read the OT?  And of course from a logical perspective the fact that people FEEL that two acts are both deviations from the natural order doesn’t make it so, or at the very least that if there such a variation that does not necessarily mean that all such variations are intrinsically immoral. I’m sure that Rick Santorum, say, genuinely does think that one can group gay marriage and sex with dogs, but he has hardly, to riot in understatement, made much of an effort to justify his categorisation. 

                   It’s a misrepresentation to say that I’m arguing that anal sex is equivalent to sex involving a vagina, as that view is intrinsically heterosexist i.e. assuming that penetrating-in-a-vagina is the (as it were) benchmark for *biologically* ‘natural’ sex acts. Most sex acts are recreational – and this is as true in the birth control accepting conservative evangelical world as it is the secular one. Many straight men regard anal and route one sex as legitimate items on the sexual menu; it’s not an either or. Were our mouths – or at least female ones -designed for blow jobs? 
                   
                   I see your research consisted of googling safety of anal sex and then going with the first webpage, which is the not-exactly-John-Hopkins netdoctor. Here’s one hit from slightly further down :
                   http://blogs.menshealth.com/sex-professor/qa-is-anal-sex-safe-or-will-i-end-up-in-adult-diapers/2010/01/19/

                   Let’s be logical about this. You claimed that the anus tears and incontinence results after a “few” sessions of anal sex. If that was true, gay bars would be full of men in pampers.  That it demonstrably not the case. Does that rather not negate your opinion on the dangerousness of anal sex?  And again: “designed” by Whom? God? What is your proof text that says anal sex *per se* is *in and of itself* intrinsically wrong? And, of course, even if you were right about this, that does not mean you’re right about the medical consequences. HIV is (as any Doctor will tell you) very hard to catch, but, from a conservative Christian perspective, that does not negate the fact that every casual gay sexual encounter that can lead to the virus is equally wrong and contrary to “Design”. 

                  • RevDave

                    Dear Cerebusboy,

                    OK, thanks for actually addressing most of what I said (as well as several things that I didn’t).  In roughly reverse order:

                    There is no Christian perspective that is currently arguing that casual gay sexual encounters are good – any form of casual sex encounter is acknowledged to be wrong! (I thought the LGCM had dropped the “sex as part of friendship” line?)  

                     I wasn’t saying that anal sex is *dangerous* just that it’s obviously not a natural alternative to penis-vagina sex. This is obvious because the anus is dirty and easily gets infected, it often get damaged and bleed, and the sphincter does tend to become looser (unless anal sex is very infrequent)  which can lead to leakage (not “tear” and “incontinence”..  misrepresentation is lying!!) 

                    Whether we are creationists or evolutionists, we all talk about “design” for body parts: hands designed for holding, legs designed for walking, hearts designed for circulating blood, lungs designed for respiration etc etc. That’s the natural order.  You could learn to walk on your hands, but that’s not the natural order!
                    In a similar way the penis is designed for urinating excess liquids and also (in sexually aroused state) for ejaculating semen.  Similarly the vagina is designed for sex with a penis.  It’s the right size and length – becoming elongated and secreting a lubricant in the sexually aroused state.  And it is designed to provide an environmet in which sperm in the ejaculated semen can migrate into the womb to fertilise an egg if it’s in the right state.  The vagina is designed for the penis but the anus (and mouth) is just a conveniently sized hole that was designed for something else.

                    Nor was I saying that anal sex is inherently wrong – just that it is not a natural *alternative*.  Sex is about the relationship between a man and a woman.  Anal sex could be part of that.  It’s the relationship that makes sex good or bad, not the sex acts per se.  That’s why recreational sex is wrong..  sex that isn’t relational is bad.  Just two (or more) people using other people to stimulate themselves!!

                    Finally, suggesting that every Christian criticism of same-sex sex is somehow supporting simple homophobia is like suggesting that every criticism of Christianity is supporting massacres of Christians in Nigeria, Pakistan etc etc.

                    • Cerebusboy

                       Dear Dave, this is what you yourself said on anal sex

                        Anus’s are dirty, full of germs,  become damaged, bleed and get infected easily, and they start leaking faeces after a few sessions of penetration.  

                       leakage is counted as incontinencehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fecal_incontinence

                      Do you stand by your claim that after a “few” (!) sessions of anal sex anal leakage occurs? Yes or no? It’s a bit much to be accused of misrepresentation for responding to something you actually, especially since I properly quoted it! And one of your sources on the dangers of anal sex refers to bleeding:
                       http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/sexandrelationships/sex/200901.html

                       Which would logically occur from tearing. If you don’t agree with this characterisation then I will apologise, but it does seem very strange that you would quote sources on the dangers of anal sex, only agree with them in part, but then not bother to say that you regard leakage as a problem but not tearing! 

                       What evidence do you have on what our body parts were and were not ‘designed’ to do?  If , as you’ve finally conceded, our mouths were not designed for oral sex then why is that not as immoral (immorality of particular sexual being, to the Christian, in no way predicated on the physical dangers associated with them) ?  The amount of sperm the human male produces suggests, from a neutral (and non-theological perspective) that we were “designed” to masturbate a lot more than it does the notion that every act of ejaculation should lead to procreation (the ‘Natural Law’ position). And of course evolution is a scientific fact, whereas creationism, intelligent design is – as was established in Law in the Dover County case in the US, noted here as the Judge was a Bush-appointed conservative Christian who, unlike creationists, still valued the truth of peculiar religiose ideology – not.  Ideology that simply STATES a flat opinion ‘this is natural, this is not’ is useless. In contrast, science would support the feminists view on the centrality of the clitoris in female sexual stimulation, which is one example of actual, you know, fact showing that the discourse around ‘natural sex’ (i.e. missionary position, which aint’ ideal for clitoral stimulation) represents the imposition of patriachal readings *on* the body, not a scientific understanding *of* it.  Perhaps you could explain why male equivalent of the g-spot is best accessed via prostate stimulation. Did God put in there, to test us, or was the Devil in charge of designing that bit? 

                    • Cerebusboy

                       
                      Sex is about the relationship between a man and a woman. 

                       Sex *can* be about that it is not necessarily so. And sex can of course be recreational *and* relational.  You’re arguing a variation of “x is wrong because it’s wrong” which will get us nowhere

                    • Cerebusboy

                       
                      Finally, suggesting that every Christian criticism of same-sex sex is somehow supporting simple homophobia is like suggesting that every criticism of Christianity is supporting massacres of Christians in Nigeria, Pakistan etc etc

                       No, it’s not remotely the same. 
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_among_LGBT_youth#Institutionalized_and_internalized_homophobia 

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      To be honest, I find such an approach equivalent to when some more homophobic conservatives try to constantly find every story about a homosexual person doing something wrong to somehow prove that all homosexuals are deeply deviant.

                      We should engage with the specific views of the specific person we are communicating with. To tar all conservatives with the same homophobic brush is no better then sticking up article after article on the perils of anal sex.

                    • Cerebusboy

                       But surely “is it legitimate and justifiable to talk about a spectrum of anti-LGBT attitudes that can lead to violence” is a valid question to be investigated, as – theoretically speaking – of course is “is it legitimate to and justifiable to talk of a spectrum of anti-Christian attitudes that link comments on conservative views on homosexuality to anti-Christian violence in places like Pakistan?” ? We are not necessarily in the realm of mere opinion, where one ought to come out swinging for one’s team or, alternatively, assume that asking either question is necessarily biased. You would surely agree that, in the strict, neutral sense, it would be literally biased to *assume* that religion should be privileged as NOT being able to form part of the processes addressed in the first question? And of course the same goes for whatever is the best analogous equivalent for the second question. 
                       

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      If you can provide the evidence that the kind of position I put forward leads to violence, go ahead. I think you’ll find that a bit tricky though.

                    • Cerebusboy

                       This isn’t about you! I of course appreciate that there are many occasions when you’ve had to deal with brickbats from the conservative side, due to your challenging of overt homophobia and cliched demonisation of gay people.  The question and the evidence required is about the legitimacy (or not) of talking of a spectrum of anti-LGBT attitudes that can result in violence. That’s hardly the same thing as “proving” that “your views lead to kids killing themselves!” which is plainly not a position that is going to have much evidence supporting it. 

                       

                    • Cerebusboy

                       Interestingly, I’ve just started reading Dan Savage’s “The Kid” (as with Gore Vidal, Savage is a tremendous writer irrespective of what one views as his ideological basis; in contrast, the conservative Christian view would have you believe that Philip Yancey is a good writer (!).) ; he refers to the Goldhagen book on the Holocaust (which I confess I never got around to reading after your recommendation – will tackle it after Savage!) and notes that Goldhagen characterises the particular pre-Holocaust antisemitism as “eliminationist”, before making (and I hope that people recognise that Godwin’s Law is no such thing) some pertinent points (talking of print ads on ex-gay therapy)
                       “By arguing that we didn’t have to exist, these ads implicitly argued that we have no right to exist”

                       True, as the kids say, dat (and no, I’m not here talking of conservatives-want-concentration-camps-for-gays although, in passing, the main “scientist” cited in Gagnon’s supposedly definitive anti-gay biblical book, very much did,as long as they were seropositive) . Note this blog: even a commentator as sensible and committed to productive dialogue as Philip feels obliged to argue that homosexuality is not analogous to race because it can change.  Most gay men do not tend to feel the need to refer to scientific papers in order to ‘justify’ their sexuality. Its ‘aetiology’ is essentially irrelevant; that a tiny minority of people *can* change in no way means that such change is normative or that the vast majority who cant’ and don’t want to change are in any way defective. 

                        “Homosexual behaviour cannot be eliminated without eliminating homosexual people”
                       [where's "Billy" "Dad" "Guest" "(Obnoxious) Guest (who just wont leave)" when you need him?]

                       Again, that’s commonsensical. You would agree that the Orthodox Christian would wish for a world without homosexuality? If you don’t see what’s objectionable about that, replace “homosexuality” with a word referring to expressions of any other particular identity.  Whenever one uses the “homophobia” word, conservatives will tend to whip out the dictionary and respond that they don’t “fear” gay people. And? Is there not something deeply childish about judging people on motivation as opposed to action? Would you agree it’s entirely possible for conservative Christian rhetoric on gay people to be BOTH motivated by what they understand of love (saving sinners from eternal destruction caused by sexual sin) AND for it to impact on the lives and temporary wellbeing of gay people in a manner they regard as analogous to past prejudiced treatment of other minority groups? 

                       

            • Cerebusboy

              http://www.fallacyfiles.org/loadques.html 

               Anything else I ‘have’ to defend in order to support equal marriage? Torture? Child abuse? Kicking puppies? *rolls eyes* 

                (And on a purely aesthetic grounds, incest is even more icky than abusing ! and ?,  sock puppets, etc etc )

  • Tom Jones

    If you are right about the problem that consummation raises can you say how this has been confronted in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, certain states in the US, Brasil and anywhere else equal marriage has been introduced? If marriage is this one unitive idea of the whole of mankind from the dawn of history as Lord Carey would have it, which NO ONE has the right or power to change, can you tell us why consummation has not bugged them?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      It would indeed be interesting to examine that. Note though that same-sex marriage was introduced in Canada largely by judicial action, not legislative action. There was little contemplation of the effect on the wider marriage law.

      • Cerebusboy

         Is that not, in and of itself, an argument *against* polygamy etc etc being an *inevitable, logical result* of allowing gay marriage?

        • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

          The most recent attempt by a Mormon polygamous community to have poly marriages made legal in Canada has been rejected.

          Polygamy is an example of unequal mixed-sex marriage, as same-sex marriage is an outgrowth of equal mixed-sex marriage. The two issues have no connection except in the minds of the Christian Right in the US, who appear to be the funders of the anti-marriage campaign in the UK.

  • Gillan Scott

    I’ve found this article extremely helpful and it has clarified my thinking, so thank you!  The consummation aspect is the most obvious issue for me too.  However anyone approaches it there will always be a fundamental difference between two people of the same sex uniting compared to two of the opposite sex, and I see this as being on more than a physical level.  For those who take notice of it, the Bible in Genesis says that a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
     
    I don’t see how that union of the flesh can be the same in a same-sex marriage.

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      I began to do some exploration as to how “one flesh” is uniquely embodied in an other-sex monogamous marriage here – 
      http://www.peter-ould.net/2007/03/09/a-theology-of-sex/

      • Tom Jones

        Been reading anything about Buddhist Tantras, particularly the yab-yum?

        Incidentally, I can’t imagine Lord Carey would like what you have written…..:-)

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          No and No (respectively)!

      • Gillan Scott

        Thanks Peter.  I remember hearing something along those lines at a seminar once.  I agree that Biblically there is a parallel between human marriage and the union of Christ and the church.  Trying to take the Bible at face value it is hard to apply that symbolism to same-sex marriage.

      • Tom Jones

        Actually I think it is lucky that Mrs Whitehouse has gone to her reward (she who brought the prosecution for blasphemy against Gay News). Did blasphemy cover all the formularies of the Church of England including its ideas about consummation in marriage. I’d have hated to see you hauled before the beak, Peter:-) 

        And all the talk about Christ and his Bride the Church may be all very well for nuns and consecrated virgins, but when you hear married people talk about three in their marriage, i.e. husband, wife and God, it must make some people feel it is a bit icky..But, hey, what do red-bloodied heterosexual men feel with all this Christ-the-bridegroomy stuff? Doesn’t it all get a teensie bit homoerotic for the male half of the Church to wonder what their role is if Christ is the bridegroom, (aka the top in modern parlance)?

  • Tom Jones

    Gillan, I am sure you will agree that “union of the flesh” (Shakespeare’s beast with two backs?) is only a turn of phrase and can hardly be taken literally – except perhaps momentarily during penetration? – but it has a wider and more important psychological application in the union of minds and hearts of two people – and this may be irrespective of their genders. Surely the ordinal typos pointed back to the adamic myth in one of the Mishnah traditions that the original adam was both male and female – a hermaphrodite whole which became separated into the two beings, “male and female he made them”, recorded in the Genesis account as the creating of woman out of the adam’s “spare” rib. Thus marriage was seen as one way of putting the primordial whole together again – but only figuratively!

    • Cerebusboy

       Aside from which, Gillian isn’t even right about the orthodox/biblical/conservative view of “one flesh” relationships, which surely (1 Corinthians 6:16) says non-marital sex does involve “one flesh” relationships, albeit unholy ones.  Not to be crude, but I’d say, from a purely physical perspective, that the “two parts closeness” in a male-male penetrative act is quite as tight as an old-fashioned male-female vaginal one! (although  anal sex is of course popular and in some contexts legitimate among heterosexuals too) 

      • RevDave

        Being an innocent in such things, isn’t anal sex rather unhygenic?

        • Tom Jones

          RevDave,  google “santorum” to find out what can go wrong if it is not done properly. 

          • RevDave

            Hmm, having read a bit about anal sex on medical sites it doesn’t sound like a good alternative.  Anus’s are dirty, full of germs,  become damaged, bleed and get infected easily, and they start leaking faeces after a few sessions of penetration.  They’re for human waste, not sex.

            • Cerebusboy

              They can be for both. The penis, for example, is for urination *and* sex. Are mouths ‘designed’ for sex? Or is just female mouths? 

            • Cerebusboy

              Actually, Cerebusboy has, as mentioned previously, a life. Was planning on watching tonight’s Man U game but shall happily skip it in favour of responding to every one of your inane points if it will make you feel better. Here’s a preview. 

                Anus’s are dirty, full of germs,  become damaged, bleed and get infected easily, and they start leaking faeces after a few sessions of penetration.   

               Superb. How many is a “few”? 5, 6 times? Given the purported rampant promiscuity of gays and the inevitable conflation of anal sex with homosexuality per se, would that not logically mean that most gay men are in need of Pampers? That hardly tallies with reality. Got any examples of these “medical” sites, which I suspect are “medical” in the same way that creationist websites are “scientific”: i.e., not really. I think you’ll find, assuming one discounts the obvious Satinover, Cameron nonsense, that the “best” anti-anal paper in recent years counted (get this) flatulence as incontinence. Hardly the sign of a fair and honest study. And of course the prostate is the male-g spot; our bodies evolved of course, but the orgasm hot spot being situated where it is hardly supports the thesis on the “unnaturalness” of anal sex. And, tangentially, heterosexual missionary-position-as-God-intented sex can lead to all sorts of nasty medical consequences too, whereas the things that a woman’s body undergoes during lovely, fluffy, nice and normal pregnancy makes the physical consequences of the AVERAGE gay sexual counter look, from my perspective, frankly like a walk in the park.

              • RevDave

                See my reply posted a few mins ago to another comment you made (a few threads above this one)

            • Cerebusboy

               By that logic, isn’t putting one’s mouth where people pee from also disgusting? Yet oral sex (within marriage!) is perfectly acceptable, even desireable, to the point where Mark Driscoll produces inanely reductive ‘readings’ of Song of Songs to allow good evangelical spouses to slurp away guilt free! One must be very careful about assuming one’s particular sexual likes and dislikes reflect universal overarching truths. ( In contrast, the Christian ascetic who regards all of sex’s smells and rutting as disgusting is, at least, consistent, and not guilty of overprivileging the purportedly ‘medical’.)

              • Tom Jones

                Actually Ryan, Mark Driscoll can’t see anything wrong in anal sex between husband and wife. He says the Bible doesn’t ban THAT, only the man-on-man kind. And I think I remember rightly that he even advocated pegging, wife-on-husband with a strap-on as not unscriptural. 

                • Cerebusboy

                   Indeed, it’s unfortunate (but perhaps unsurprising) that Peter ducked our points on Driscoll’s ‘”Real Marriage” in a previous post. I’d love to hear how the “Church” analogue doing the “Christ” analogue with a hunk of plastic is supposed to tally with the ol’ ‘Orthodox’ Christian understanding of sexuality lol!

                    I suppose it’s progress of sorts that a (not remotedly) ‘Real Man’ Ed Hardy clad fratboy type like Driscoll advocates cunnilingus, whereas in less enlightened days said act suffered from a ‘real men don’t go down” macho culture.

                   Of course, I (in my less chaste days) knew of straight women who don’t even like receiving, as they think the act is “disgusting”. And one hears of straight women who don’t like going down on men as they regard *that* as disgusting. To which the obvious response is to note that there’s no arguing over matters of taste. If only people could apply the same good sense to anal sex – which is hardly without popularity in the straight world. It is a stereotypical *male* interest – not, conservatives may wish to note, a ‘gay’ male interest! 

                  • Tom Jones

                    Perhaps we should say though that we realise Peter has a lot on his plate at the moment. I for one don’t know how he keeps this thing running, contributes to it, helps run a home and do a job, plus all the vicary bits that come his way. (He does deserve some bouquets as well as brickbats – though he sometimes responds to your posts a bit quirkily IMHO, especially as you are by far the most creative and informed polymathic commentator here – and yes one of the most interesting. 

                    But I am in agreement with you about people’s tastes. A gay Cambridge don I know was horrified and practically threw up when a mutual friend told us how much he enjoyed cunnilingus and went on to say yes it does smell like fish – or maybe like a freshly opened oyster. To be fair, the gay don is also a vegetarian…… The constant stuff about dirty anal sex that we get from Christian pastors, in the extremest case by people like Martin Ssempa who does a demonstration (using his hand) of rimming as part of a Sunday sermon only makes me think there is a Freudian explanation not so deep down. I think some heterosexual men are obsessed, terrified by and perhaps fascinated by penetration. A woman I know told me how she played with her bf’s butt  during sex but was never allowed to comment on it. 

                    RevDave set a disingenuous little trap back there when he said he was an innocent about anal sex when all along he’d been reading up on it quite widely…..

                    • RevDave

                      No, I read up after asking the question!!

                      And the anus is dirty, etc – by no means an equivalent to vaginal sex. See recent post above.

                    • RevDave

                      My argument is about whether there is a natural equivalence, not what is possibly enjoyable. 

                    • Tom Jones

                      RevDave, it is rather beside the point morally speaking. All sorts of activities are risky, dirty or dangerous, like bungey jumping over a pool of crocodiles which some girl recently did, or skiing or mountaineering. Actually impregnating a woman is incredibly risky, childbirth is risky – that’s not to say a risk mostly worth taking, though sometimes not. 

                      In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the headmistress Miss MacKay thought “Safety  came first”, but Jean Brodie taught her girls “Safety does not come first; art, truth and beauty come first”. In similarl vein with the homophobic bedazzlement with anal sex, it does not come first; it is too narrowly reductionist, to say the least, to try to view all of thousands of years of same-sex world of love, experience and creativity that have benefited humanity through the lens of the anal sphincter, so to speak.

                    • Cerebusboy

                       My thanks for those very kind words Tom.

                       I certainly agree that Peter keeping up his blogging rate is, on top of his other commitments, enormously impressive, and, as I’ve said before, this place is easily on of my top 3 blogs.

                       
                       As the Republican Party demonstrates, there is a substantial precedent of nominal Christian conservatives “researching” anal sex ;-) 

                    • Cerebusboy

                       You make some good points about penetration too. This is one of the problems about the Christian lobby conflating their ideology with man-on-the-street homophobia for political gain. The conservative Christian will talk about how, in Greco-Roman culture, the taboo was of men being penetrated, and distinguish it from the orthodox Christian act which views same-sex acts as wrong as they mess up the correct signifiers of the Christ/Bridegroom living analogy. Yet when homophobes talk of “shit stickers” they are invoking a patriarchal prejudice against men being penetrated, not anal sex per se. I genuinely wonder how much of a sheltered life the ‘conservative’ has to have led to view anal sex as the unique interest of gay men. One recalls the scathing report – on this blog! – of the anti-gay rally a few weeks ago, where heterosexual double anal penetration is presented as proof of the evils of gay sex.  It’s genuinely striking that someone can have *such* a bias that they’ll look at an image of heterosexual anal sex and interpret it as showing the dangers of gay sex. 

                       Man, bit early in the morning for all this anal sex (er, so to speak) ! ;-)

                    • RevDave

                      No, you are getting back into your preconceived assumptions about “conservatives” beliefs and motivations again.. rather than what I actually said. I was only discussing the problems of anal sex because you (Cerusboy) were arguing that it is some sort of natural equivalent to penis-vagina sex!

                      And I already said that anal sex is not inherently wrong (for married couples).  Same applies to oral sex as far as I’m concerned.ps From another thread – I don’t see how the the prostrate is “designed” to be *the* equivalent of the G-Spot.  Rubbing quite a few areas on the human body can be erogeneous .. so there are plenty of “G-Spots” on that basis!!   PLUS: most women don’t experience enjoyable stimulation via the G-Spot anyway!

                    • Cerebusboy

                       
                       Actually Dave, I was responding to what you actually said, which is why I quoted you. I see you’ve ignored it. So let me quote it again:

                      Anus’s are dirty, full of germs,  become damaged, bleed and get infected easily, and they start leaking faeces after a few sessions of penetration.  

                      Do you :
                      a) stand by this
                      b) retract it

                       Your current apparent option c) – pretend you never said it, even although anyone can scroll up and see – is not terribly honest or honourable.

                       G-Spot : I appreciate (not in hands-on fashion: I couldn’t be more celibate if I tried! ;)) that the occasional woman can come from mere boob fondling, but the sort of results a lady would get from g-spot or clitoral stimulation is qualitatively differently (and superior to!) the results of mere stimulation of an erogenous zone. So too with prostate stimulation in the male which, to to use Dan Savage’s fine turn of phrase, is the difference between come-dribbling-on-the-belly orgasm and the seeing stars come-shooting-over-your-head kind (a tad dramatic, but I’m sure you see his point).

                       We’ll need some sources if you’re going to start proclaiming on what ‘most’ women do and don’t do (unless repeating well-attested point such as that on the necessity for clitoral stimulation). 

                       And, again, I did not say that the legitimacy of anal sex is predicated on the extent to which it is analogous to vaginal sex. That is in and of itself heterosexist and biased. Do I need a bold quote of that too, or will you do me the courtesy of scrolling up to read? We’re discussing recreational sex. You have offered no argument (flat assertions of opinion are not the same thing) of the sole legitimacy of penis/vagina sex in a recreational context; perhaps unsurprising because, if you don’t regard oral sex as necessarily immoral, you can not ultimately sustain such a position. So, what, do you regard anal sex as wrong if between two men but not between two woman? On what basis? Woman don’t have the ol’ prostate stimulation mind!
                       

                    • RevDave

                      Ok, I modify it slightly.  Anuses don’t necessarily leak after a few penetrations, but do *tend to* widen and leak eventually, so:

                      “Anuses are not designed for sex, they’re dirty, germ ridden, easily bleed and get infected. They also tend to widen and leak.”  

                      Anuses are “designed” for excreting faeces, not for sex.I think we’re going to go round and round the houses on whether the prostrate is in any way a male version of the G-spot, whether many women enjoy stimulation of the G-spot, the fact that people can get stimulated by rubbing various locations, and the fact that the clitoris and penis are the main sexual equivalents.I presume that the reason you feel you have to defend “the prostrate is the gay G-spot” argument (and the anus as the gay equivalent to the vagina argument) is that you feel the need to find some “natural law” defence of gay sexuality.

                      I don’t think you can win that one at all.  Sex has functions for human beings that can only be fulfilled between a man and a woman.  And the male and female sex organs are “designed” primarily for sex – when excited (as I discussed earlier).  Other suitably sized body orifices might be usable for sexual stimulation, but they are not *primarily* designed for it! 

                      As for your discussion of “recreational sex”, I already said that I think that the idea of “recreational sex” is immoral.  I imagine it makes a good sound-bite as a counterpart to “procreational sex”, but sex is a part of lifelong personal intimacy between a man and a woman.  Masturbation might be termed recreational I suppose, but sex is to me the most intimate expression of mutuality… not a sport of pastime.And that’s also the basis on which I, and the Bible I believe, only see sex within an lifelong male-female marriage as moral.  Not primarily because of mechanics but because of the relationships.  

                      The Biblical meaning of sexual relationships for human beings fits only within the wider framework of commitments within families, to our children, between the generations and our connections to society as a whole – a society that is composed of two genetic types of human –  males and females.    These have, in my view, broken down to such an extent in current society that people find it hard to see what is wrong with any form of sex they want “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone”.  That is a condemnation of our society and I think we can see that it is working out in many areas nowadays.  [NT Wright pointed out that Romans 1 is actually a condemnation of *societies* that have degenerated to the point where people see nothing wrong with sex with whoever they want (as well as various other breaches of the divine intention - eg defying parents, deceit, envy, arrogance etc etc).]

                      Feel free to respond again, but it’s going to be very busy the next two weeks, so you may not get any response for a while.   I too have a life!Hope you enjoyed the ManU game – but I think ManCity will stay a nose ahead this season. 

          • Cerebusboy

             lol! ;-) Here’s some more sense from Dan Savage, challenging the nonsensical idea that anal sex is intrinsically anti-woman/feminist:
             http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/10/28/sl-letters-of-the-day-two-butt-secks-letters&view=comments

        • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

          Responding up here just because the thread’s got very narrow down below….

          Dave, what the devil business is it of yours how your neighbours choose to have sex? When two consenting adults with a reasonable expectation of privacy choose to have sex together, it is no one’s ruddy business but their own how they do it.

          The sheer nastiness of so much prurient speculation about your neighbours’ sexual behaviour is really abhorrent. If you’re claiming to be “innocent”, act like one. Not your business.

          • Cerebusboy

             Excellent points EdinburghEye (and nice avatar!). ‘Conservatives’ are supposed to believe in privacy and freedom from the state (I think “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” is ultimately a statement consistent with conservatives’ purported principles). Yet when it comes to gay people a voyeuristic, privacy-invading focus on what gay people do in bed is deemed not only permissable, but necessary!  As with so much else (would conservatives speak of “Jew blood” in the way that the ‘Christian’ Institute speaks of “homosexual blood” or of “black rights” in the negative terms they invoke “gay rights”), it only serves to flag up the prejudice of the bigot. 

            • http://www.surreptitiousevil.com/ Surreptitious Evil

              You are confusing “conservatives”, “Conservatives” and the US Religious right, I think. The US manage to combine social-conservative and liberty-from-state in a way that eludes the current British Conservative Party.

              Many on the economic left in the UK and Europe are socially conservative.

              Personally, I all in favour of the state butting (deliberate, sorry) right out of people’s sexual behaviour, with the limited exceptions of protection against exploitation of minors or the vulnerable (which isn’t, unlike some of the anti-homosexual propaganda insists, a sexual-preference linked problem.)

              Tough luck with Rangers, though …

      • Gillan Scott

        My understanding of the 1 Corinthians passage is that it reinforces the view that the act of sexual union between a man and a woman unites them as one flesh whether they are married or not.  In the past, the act of physical union was also the physical symbol of marriage.

        Even if we count the male-male penetrative act as a physical marriage act.  How do we then get round the problem of female-female marriage?

        • Cerebusboy

           how many woman today would say is more about them being penetrated than it is them achieving orgasm (and the old-fashioned patriachal ‘Natural’ discourse hardly accords with actual scientific understanding of the primacy of the clitoris)? Not to crude, but from a dispassionate, neutral perspective the popular items on the lesbian sex menu involve quite as much one flesh-analogous ”physical closeness’ as heterosexual vaginal penetration (which is not of course any kind of *theological* argument)

  • Philip_Cole

    I’m very interested in Peter’s point that instituting gay marriage would change the definition of straight marriage, so I thought I would do a bit of research on my situation in South Africa, where we already have gay marriage rather than civil unions. He’s right – gay marriage does have implications for straight marriage and there seems to be recognition across the board that our legal situation is a bit of a mess!

    My apologies in advance – this is going to be long!

    First our context. Gay marriage was legalised in South Africa through the Civil Union Act 2006, which was passed by Parliament in response to a Constitutional Court ruling the previous year that denying gay couples access to marriage was unconstitutional under our clause outlawing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. If you want some more background then, in this case, the Wikipedia article here is quite accurate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_South_Africa

    The Civil Union Act is effectively what the Equal Marriage Campaign wants for the UK. Both same- and opposite-sex couples can contract either a marriage or a civil partnership. The text of the act itself is here http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=67843 if you’re interested. The Act updates all mention of marriage in other laws to be same- or opposite-sex neutral, with the important exception of the two already existing marriage laws which I’ll cover below.

    But first, it’s important for Christians to note that there are two important religious safeguards in the Civil Union Act:

    1. Religious organisations that want to register civil partnerships or marriages under the Civil Union Act have to register with the government before any individual minister can then also register to do the same. This effectively means that the denomination has to approve of same-sex marriage before any minister in the denomination can do the same.
    2. Individual marriage registration officers, civil or religious, can ‘object on the ground of conscience, religion and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex, whereupon that marriage ofricer shall not he compelled to solemnise such civil union’. This provision has been used by state marriage registrars in my own province of the Eastern Cape which you can read about here: http://www.dispatch.co.za/news/article/1871. Lillian Ladele would have been completely protected in South Africa.

    Gay activists have objected to both of these provisions but my reading of it is that in highly religious South Africa they simply would not have got the Civil Union Act through Parliament without these rights of conscience.

    Now to the marriage legislation. We now have three marriage acts as follows:

    1. The Marriage Act 1970 as amended which is opposite-sex only. It unsurprisingly seems to be similar to existing marriage law in the UK.
    2. The Customary Marriages Act 1998 which provides for mariage, monogamous or polygamous, under customary law. Many African countries have two parallel systems of law, customary and codified. Customary law applies to people living in areas under tribal authorities, effectively meaning that it applies to black Africans living in many parts of rural South Africa.
    3. The Civil Union Act 2006 provides for same- and opposite-sex couples to get married or register a civil partnership.

    There’s now the interesting situation where a straight couple now has two or three different (depending on their race) legal mechanisms for marriage. You can however only get married under one of the Acts – effectively you’ve got to choose which one.

    This has caused problems for Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, a tribal chief and MP. His first marriage was under the Marriage Act which does not allow for polygamous marriage. Since then he has gone ahead and conducted two further marriages under the Customary Marriages Act which are illegal as he has not yet come to a divorce with his first wife. He may (or may not) now have an arrest warrant for bigamy out on him! If you’re interested, you can read a bit about this mess here: http://www.dispatch.co.za/news/article/2917

    But back to same-sex marriage and the Civil Union Act. Pierre de Vos, a constitutional lawyer and gay rights activist, has criticised the rights of conscience provisions. In an interesting article here http://www.utrechtlawreview.org/index.php/ulr/article/viewFile/72/72 he recognises that the Civil Union Act has ‘unnecessarily complicated South Africa’s family law regime by providing heterosexual couples with a choice to marry under the old or the new Act while providing same-sex couples only with the option of entering into a marriage or a civil partnership under the Civil Union Act. Moreover the new Act is silent on some difficult legal issues that necessarily flow from the fact that same-sex marriages are not gendered in nature’.

    One of the more obvious failings of the Civil Union Act was that it did not cover divorce! There was a test case last year that effectively extended all the divorce provisions of the Divorce Act 1970 to same-sex couples. There’s an article on the case here http://imod.co.za/2011/06/15/civil-union-act-does-not-cater-for-gay-divorce/

    But this is now problematic. The Divorce Act provides for divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown (one year separation, adultery, imprisonment) or mental illness or unconsciousness. What is adultery in the case of a same-sex marriage or civil union? According to this article http://divorcelawyer.iblog.co.za/2010/01/15/divorcelawyer/ on divorce law in South Africa, ‘adultery may be defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse’. As Peter has noted for the UK, the South African definition of sexual intercourse is ‘vaginal penetration’ in a large body of case law.

    De Vos recognises that marriage is a wide ranging institution captured by the phrase ‘consortium omnis vitae between the spouses. This turn of phrase is supposed to capture in the abstract the ‘totality of a number of rights, duties and advantages accruing to the spouses in a marriage’. As Cronjé and Heaton points out this includes, inter alia, companionship, love, affection, comfort, mutual services and sexual intercourse’. But what is sexual intercourse in a gay marriage? At present it is undefined.

    Robinson and Swanepoel (here http://www.ajol.info/index.php/pelj/article/viewFile/43472/27007) have argued persuasively from this concept of  ‘consortium omnis vitae’ that marriage is heterosexual:

    ‘Companionship, love, affection, comfort, mutual services, sexual intercourse – all belong to the married state. Taken together, they make up the consortium; but I cannot think that the loss of one element, however, grievous it may be, … can be regarded as the loss of the consortium … Still less could any impairment of one of the elements be so regarded. Consortium, I think, is one and indivisible.It is clear that the explanation of the concept of consortium in both T v T and Grobbelaar v Havenga relates closely to the exposition of marriage as a social entity. The eros correspondswith the foundational function of marriage in that there are sexual differences between male and female, which make possible sexual intercourse and guarantee the unity of marriage qua social entity. On the other hand, philia and agapé relate to the concept of companionship, love, affection, comfort and mutual services as explained in Best v Samuel Fox. These concepts, it is suggested, are indicative of the leading function of marriage as set out above.From the exposition given above, it is clear that sexual differences between male and female play the all-important role of guaranteeing the unity of the marriage relationship’.It seems that there is a large body of case law that will need to be changed in South Africa due to the legalisation of same-sex marriage that will change the definition of opposite-sex marriage. Due to the similarities between South African and UK codified law, I’d suggest that the UK will face the same problems if it legalises same-sex marriageIt seems that there is a large body of case law that will need to be changed in South Africa due to the legalisation of same-sex marriage that will change the definition of opposite-sex marriage. Due to the similarities between South African and UK codified law, I’d suggest that the UK will face the same problems if it legalises same-sex marriageIt is clear that the explanation of the concept of consortium in both T v T and Grobbelaar v Havenga relates closely to the exposition of marriage as a social entity. The eros correspondswith the foundational function of marriage in that there are sexual differences between male and female, which make possible sexual intercourse and guarantee the unity of marriage qua social entity. On the other hand, philia and agapé relate to the concept of companionship, love, affection, comfort and mutual services as explained in Best v Samuel Fox. These concepts, it is suggested, are indicative of the leading function of marriage as set out above.From the exposition given above, it is clear that sexual differences between male and female play the all-important role of guaranteeing the unity of the marriage relationship’.It seems that there is a large body of case law that will need to be changed in South Africa due to the legalisation of same-sex marriage that will change the definition of opposite-sex marriage. Due to the similarities between South African and UK codified law, I’d suggest that the UK will face the same problems if it legalises same-sex marriageIt seems that there is a large body of case law that will need to be changed in South Africa due to the legalisation of same-sex marriage that will change the definition of opposite-sex marriage. Due to the similarities between South African and UK codified law, I’d suggest that the UK will face the same problems if it legalises same-sex marriage

  • Philip_Cole

    I’ve seen that my comment after ‘Robinson and Swanepoel has gone a bit wonky for some reason. Here’s the correct version:

    Robinson and
    Swanepoel (here http://www.ajol.info/index.php/pelj/article/viewFile/43472/27007)
    have argued persuasively from this concept of ‘consortium omnis vitae’ that marriage is heterosexual:

    ‘Companionship,
    love, affection, comfort, mutual services, sexual intercourse – all belong to
    the married state. Taken together, they make up the consortium;
    but I cannot think that the loss of one element, however, grievous it may be, …
    can be regarded as the loss of the consortium … Still
    less could any impairment of one of the elements be so regarded. Consortium, I think, is one and indivisible.

    It is clear
    that the explanation of the concept of consortium in both T v T and Grobbelaar v
    Havenga relates closely to the exposition of marriage as a social
    entity. The eros corresponds with the foundational function of marriage
    in that there are sexual differences between male and female, which make
    possible sexual intercourse and guarantee the unity of marriage qua social entity. On the other hand, philia and agapé relate to the
    concept of companionship, love, affection, comfort and mutual services as
    explained in Best v Samuel Fox. These concepts, it is suggested, are indicative
    of the leading function of marriage as set out above.

    From
    the exposition given above, it is clear that sexual differences between male
    and female play the all-important role of guaranteeing the unity of the
    marriage relationship’.It seems that there is a large body of case
    law that will need to be changed in South Africa due to the legalisation of
    same-sex marriage that will change the definition of opposite-sex marriage. Due
    to the similarities between South African and UK codified law, I’d suggest that
    the UK will face the same problems if it legalises same-sex marriage.

  • Joe_S

    Do straights really think about this coitus stuff when they get married? Does anybody else? Or do most heterosexuals get married simply because they met someone they fancied and fell in love. Gay people are saying “We can do that too!” And they can.

    25 years ago I felt the same way about ‘marriage equality’ as most (out) gay people do today. I started boycotting (straight) weddings until “I could go to my own”. I even said that to my brother! And I meant it. Civil partnerships were ushered in by joyless townhall lesbians aka Stonewall. The gay man on the street never asked for them.

    I’m a Christian now and my views have changed but I still understand why ‘marriage equality’ is so important to gay people. Marriage is about inviting friends and family to your wedding. It’s the ultimate symbol of acceptance. It has very little to do with what couples do or don’t do in bed.

  • RevDave

    Cerebusboy wrote: “What evidence do you have on what our body parts were and were not ‘designed’ to do?”

    Do you really disagree that various body parts are “designed” (by evolutionary processes or by  divine intent) for different primary purposes??!  Try thinking about these three: the eye, the lungs, and the foot.

    Cerebusboy wrote: “If, as you’ve finally conceded, our mouths were not designed for oral sex then why is that not as immoral (immorality of particular sexual being, to the Christian, in no way predicated on the physical dangers associated with them)?”  

    I don’t think I “finally conceded that” – it just never came up before!  As far as I’m concerned  sexual encounters are only moral within lifelong marriage.  Within that the exact sexual behaviour is less relevant -though I do think there are limits in terms of getting into unsafe or damaging practices.  If , for instance, I was infected with HPV I would be very unwilling to have anal or oral sex with my wife because of the cancer risks (a friend of mine died of colon cancer in his twenties).  And I wouldn’t want anal sex if she didn’t want to, or if it hurt her or made her bleed.   

    Cerebusboy wrote: “The amount of sperm the human male produces suggests, from a neutral (and non-theological perspective) that we were “designed” to masturbate a lot more than it does the notion that every act of ejaculation should lead to procreation (the ‘Natural Law’ position).

    Ah, so you DO understand what people mean by body parts being designed!!! And anyway, what’s wrong with masturbation?!

    Cerebusboy wrote: ” And of course evolution is a scientific fact, whereas creationism, intelligent design is – as was established in Law in the Dover County case in the US, noted here as the Judge was a Bush-appointed conservative Christian who, unlike creationists, still valued the truth of peculiar religiose ideology – not.

    Well, despite being of the opinion that evolution IS the mechanism that God used to create us, I would like to point out that the scientific FACTS are things like: the observed adaptation of species; the fossil record showing development of species as their environment changed; and the vast age of the earth – which allows enough time for evolution and natural selection to have resulted in the vast diversification we observe into new genera and species.   
    Cerebusboy wrote: ” Ideology that simply STATES a flat opinion ‘this is natural, this is not’ is useless. In contrast, science would support the feminists view on the centrality of the clitoris in female sexual stimulation, which is one example of actual, you know, fact showing that the discourse around ‘natural sex’ (i.e. missionary position, which aint’ ideal for clitoral stimulation) represents the imposition of patriachal readings *on* the body, not a scientific understanding *of* it.
    Well, there’s another good example of the way you liberals seem to know things about my opinions that I don’t know!  What makes you think that I believe that the missionary position is the “natural” way to have sex?  But yes, the clitoris (and labia) are a womans primary sites for sexual stimulation – NOT the G-spot!!
     Cerebusboy wrote:  Perhaps you could explain why male equivalent of the g-spot is best accessed via prostate stimulation. Did God put in there, to test us, or was the Devil in charge of designing that bit? There are plenty of areas of the body where there are large concentrations of nerve endings and that one might find pleasurable when rubbed. But they are not all alternatives to the vagina, clitoris etc!.  Indeed, for most women, the G-Spot is not the alternative to the vagina, clitoris etc.  Rubbing it is pleasurable to only a small proportion of women. 

    • Cerebusboy

       
      Do you really disagree that various body parts are “designed” (by evolutionary processes or by  divine intent) for different primary purposes??!  Try thinking about these three: the eye, the lungs, and the foot.

       ‘Purposes’ stands out. Why can other parts of the body have *multiple* purposes but not the anus? And a bad choice of examples. Let me elaborate on two. Were our eyes “designed” to use 3-D glasses at the cinema? No. Does that make 3-D wrong? Of course not.  The foot: was it designed to play football? Or (in ladies of course ;-)) to wear high heels? No. Are these activities wrong? Of course not. You see the nonsense of the ‘Natural Law’ argument, and you conceding multiple ‘purposes’ is in itself a move away from its strictest logic. And yet we’re supposed to take seriously arguments-from-plumbing seriously. They are no more true in the sexual sphere than they are on other body parts.  Go ask a chiropractor if our bodies were “designed” to sit at an office desk all day!

       Response to other points will follow in due course. Missing Milan Juve for this…. ;-P

    • Cerebusboy

       
      I don’t think I “finally conceded that” – it just never came up before!

       I asked, multiple times, if the ‘designed for’ argument only applies to anal sex and if so, why. You ducked the question, as is your wont.

        As far as I’m concerned  sexual encounters are only moral within lifelong marriage. 

       We weren’t discussing the morality or otherwise of anal sex. I was objecting to your ludicrous points on its physical dangers. Again: do you, or do you not, stand by your original point that anal leakage occurs after a “few” (!) sessions of anal sex? You can duck this point as many times as you like, but your original post is right there and I can easily, for your convenience, quote it again. 

       Ah, so you DO understand what people mean by body parts being designed!!! 

       Oh, I certainly “understand” the Natural Law argument; it’s a shame you don’t, since you appear to view it as only pertaining to anal sex (!). I don’t really understand your fondness for abusing !!!! & ???? tho ;-)

       Well, there’s another good example of the way you liberals seem to know things about my opinions that I don’t know!

       Lol, at “you liberals”. Who’s that precisely? Tom is being characteristically thorough and gracious; aside from which it’s only muggins here responding to your points. Not quite the local branch of the ACLU eh? And, again, you invoked the Natural Law argument. If you don’t actually know what said argument consists of nor of its logical implications then perhaps you could refrain from invoking it to buttress your peculiar (in every sense) ideology?  As for liberal: one recalls the great Gore Vidal’s point about liberal coming from the Latin meaning “pertaining to a free man”, and the worrying implication about any society that seeks to demonise such a word and concept.  Your average man-or-woman in the street, though, are more likely to prefer liberty to theocracy, worth bearing in mind next time theological ‘non-liberals’ are boasting about the size and wealth of their congregations. 

        As to your last point, no, I’m not talking about mere nerve endings (although if that’s an important criteria then you might want to check out how many get stimulated via anal sex) . And, again, what are your sources on what “most women” do and don’t do? 

       And since I’ve been so kind to respond to your points, perhaps you could tell me whether you stand by:

        Anus’s are dirty, full of germs,  become damaged, bleed and get infected easily, and they start leaking faeces after a few sessions of penetration.   ?

       

      • RevDave

        OK, one last go.

        My argument is that the vagina is designed *primarily* for sex and is complementary to the penis (when both are in the aroused state).  But, although the mouth and anus can be used as holes for sexual stimulating a penis, the mouth is designed *primarily* for eating and speaking and sometimes breathing, and the anus is designed *primarily* for excreting food.  In particular, the anus does not have a lubricating system like the vagina, so anal sex really requires artificial lubricants; and it is much more easily damaged or infected than the vagina, so an artificial barrier is generally recommended. 

        And, as I said a few mins ago elsewhere, I’m modifying that statement (in fact I did some time ago) – but only slightly.  Let’s try: Anus’s are dirty and full of germs, they get infected easily, and they *tend to*
        become damaged, bleed or start leaking.  Here’s some justifications from NHS sites: “Anal sex has a higher risk of spreading STIs than many other types of sexual activity. This is because the lining of the anus is thin and can easily be damaged, which makes it more vulnerable to infection.” and “The small amount of moisture usually found around the anus is not enough to make anal penetration comfortable for both partners.” 

        • Cerebusboy

           Dave, 
           Please do not pretend like I don’t understand your argument. I understand Natural Law and your variation of; my pointing out the flaws in their logic is not due to a failure of comprehension.

            My argument 

           Would that you had one! You have offered no argument, just flat assertions. When you yourself cited the foot and the eye to buttress your argument, and I responded with some examples of things that they were not “designed” to do, you simply ignored this point. Do I need to bold-quote that too? 

           anus does not have a lubricating system like the vagina, so anal sex really requires artificial lubricants

           And? Not all the durex lube sold in Boots is going to girls given their men a back door pass. Requiring external lubrication is not proof of any kind of moral failing in a particular sex act, let alone proof of its ‘unnatural’ nature. Many women require stimulation with external objects (vibrators etc) to achieve orgasm; does that make said sexual acts contrary to ‘design’? If not, why not? You are applying a “standard” to anal sex that you are not applying to any other sex act and a standard to the anus that you are not applying to any other body part. Such tactically skewed bias is hardly indicative of a strong position.

           Anus’s are dirty and full of germs, they get infected easily, and they *tend to*
          become damaged, bleed or start leaking.

           Tend to? So it’s a likelihood? I suppose that’s better than proposing all gay men who’ve had a “few” (!) sessions of anal sex are leaking faeces, but you’re in the same ballpark of ludicrousness. Most people who have anal sex “tend” to have a grand old time, and don’t get tears, incontinence etc etc. As for “dirty”; are douches contrary to the ol’ Natural Law too? 

           Here’s some justifications from NHS sites: “Anal sex has a higher risk of spreading STIs than many othe

           A “higher” risk in no way necessarily equates a likelihood (“tend to”) so that is certainly not a justification for your view. Very dishonest or at least unconvincing use of evidence. 

           “The small amount of moisture usually found around the anus is not enough to make anal penetration comfortable for both partners.”

           And now you’re talking about anal sex *without lubrication* rather than anal sex per se! Even the loosest sloppy party bottom will still have some KY or liquid silk to hand.  What percentage of anal sex encounters are liable to be conducted without lubrication? I’d say hardly any at all (and – as *evidence*; good concept, you should try it ;-)) I’d offer the fact that, even in the “safe sex was for none of us” GRID days of extreme gay male promiscuity (Edmund White’s ‘The Farewell Symphony” is the best literary account of this period if you want to investigate the topic further) your average sodomiser/ee was still liable to use Crisco or the like. 

      • Tom Jones

        And the design argument is completely fallacious in the first place, unless you are prepared to accept that the Designer was bad at his job. There are all kinds of things in our bodies that would not be constructed the way they are if they had been designed by a half-competent zoologist. Take the prostate for one, with the uretha running through it, what a dumb way to route it, ensuring misery for countless older men from the dawn of the human race. The subject came up last week in the dialogue event between Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. It was chaired by Sit Anthony Kenny who was an excommunicated Catholic priest before he became a brilliant leading academic philosopher and agnostic.

        You can see most of it here:

        http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/

        • Tom Jones

          And while talking about archbishops and zoologist in one sentence, have you seen this Ryan?  Think you might enjoy it.

  • Cerebusboy

     
     Dave’s original points in bold
    Anuses are “designed” for excreting faeces, not for sex.I think we’re going to go round and round the houses on whether the prostrate is in any way a male version of the G-spot, whether many women enjoy stimulation of the G-spot, the fact that people can get stimulated by rubbing various locations,

     Again, body parts demonstrable have *multiple* functions. You yourself claimed that the foot and eye had only one ‘designed’ purpose. I cited examples of things contrary to this ‘design’, asking, if you’re being logical, if these deviations from “design” or immoral too. You simply ignored the point. Why is it only the anus that’s held to this “one designed function ONLY” nonsensical standard? And, again, were our backs “designed” to sit at a desk all day?  Strange (or not so much, although back pain is a cause of lost work, disability in a manner that seems consistent with the list of societal and personal evils that the anti-gay attribute to ‘sodomy’). And we’re only going “round and round” because you keep ignoring a vital point! People have erogenous zones. Some women (and indeed men!) may like having their nipples played with, or their necks kissed. There is, still, a qualitative difference between mere erogenous zones and the joy-buzzers of g-spots and the clitoris. The prostate being the male spot is therefore a point quite different and significant to merely positing it as an erogenous zone, with implications for the argument-from-plumbing design fanatics.  

    is that you feel the need to find some “natural law” defence of gay sexuality.
     
     Not at all. You invoked natural law argument-from-design ideology. So let’s examine it. Does it make sense? Is it logical? Is it in fact supported by a fair objective contemplation of the human body per se (as distinct from religiose readings imposed *on* the body, which do not, if we’re being logical, get a free pass just because they’ve been kicking around for a few millenia)? The answers to those questions are ‘no’. And let me stress that we are talking about  Greek-derived notions reasserted (and given a twist) by Aquinas, not Holy Scripture per se. Humorism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humorism also has a long historical, philosophical pedigree. It is rejected because it demonstrable does not accord with the relevant branches of science. Similarly, and unfortunately for the homophobe, most men who have anal sex with other men have splendid orgams, a gay old time, and do not get bowel cancer, require pampers or die of AIDS. If you did not invoke Natural Law then I would not have responded to it. One is reminded of “Guest” (or whatever the troll du jour was calling himself that week) using “Faulkner” as a slur (!) to refer to my alleged stream-of-consciousness style. Unfortunately for him, I’ve studied American Literature and provided all sorts of sources to show how he evidently knew nothing of Faulkner and was merely trying to sound highfalutin’, referring to “stream of consciousness” in the pejorative sense (!) but avoiding the more popular authors ( #1 and #2 to Faulkner’s #3) associated with the style (Joyce and Woolf).  Someone proclaiming on Faulkner’s writing whilst appearing never to have heard of the (ironic?) “I’m a Farmer” quote, nor to be aware of its significance,  is like a self-anointed Joyce expert pretending (or – worse? – honestly saying) that they’ve never heard the Woolf “queasy undergraduate” quote. “Guest”, being found out, of course ran off like a biatch and failed to respond, but, being an optimist by nature, I hope you stick around :-)

    As for your discussion of “recreational sex”, I already said that I think that the idea of “recreational sex” is immoral.
     Then why not argue that, quoting Scripture, instead of invoking “Natural Law” nonsense and pretending to be a mere neutral observer of the ‘design’ of the human body?  You appreciate that it’s perfectly possible to argue that homosexual is wrong WITHOUT citing spurious nonsense on anal leakage occuring after a “few” encounters? As with Gagnon’s use of Paul Cameron’s famously spurious “statistics”, you only serve to make your theological arguments look guilty-by-association; if one’s theological *opinions*, as with creationism, require one to believe things that are demonstrably, scientifically untrue then is the likelihood not that one’s theological opinions are, in fact, wrong? And is there not something faintly cowardly and tragic about Sola Scriptura Christians feeling like they have to cut their theological, biblical arguments with junk science and dog-whistling invocation of discredited stereotypes?
    These have, in my view, broken down to such an extent in current society that people find it hard to see what is wrong with any form of sex they want “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone”.

     Yes, but most people would rather not live in a Theocracy. And on this point patriotic Brits and Americans should be as one. It’s worth stressing that, when talking of societal decay, the masculinist position on homosexuality can be summarised as “as long as they don’t do it in the streets and scare the horses” – quite different from pining for the days of homosexuality being illegal. Forced to choose, they would rather tolerate gay sexuality and have their own, hetersoexual passions legally permitted that reside in a theocracy. And what is democracy if not the best (or at  “least bad”) response to humanity’s (God-given) Free Will? 

  • Tom Jones

    Rev Dave, if you are REALLY interested in finding out more about the function of the anus instead of making bald statements culled from your selective reading on the internet to make thinly disguised homophobic points then I recommend you try to get hold of a book by a physician, Stephen E. Goldstone, MD, _The Ins and Outs of Gay (sic!) Sex – Medical Handbook for Men_.  For example in answer to the question “Can a doctor tell if I’ve been fucked” he says “Usually not. A penis stretches your sphincter during anal sex, but it usually regains its tone (strength) soon after your partner pulls out. So unless you’re in the habit of going to the doctor right after sex, he or she probably won’t find anything other a normal sphincter”.  Will that do? 

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Folks, please don’t make me have to do a blog post on anal sex. I don’t think the posse of half-witted liberals elsewhere who hang on my every word could bear the excitement…

    • Cerebusboy

       In fairness, the anal talk on this blog started because Dave started spouting nonsense on the evils and dangers of sodomy.  If he wants a fair and discussion on gay sex, human biology and its inscribed/imposed “Natural” meaning then, by all means, let’s have one. Similarly, you yourself wrote a theology of sex. It’s not vulgar or prurient to examine this concept and see if it makes sense or if, ultimately, the imagery breaks down (again, not to be crude, but you’d agree that your sex-interpretation would tend to suggest that ejaculation in a vagina is important and that, as such, the “it tells us wrong things about God” living-metaphor objection to gay sex per se is at least possible when it comes to marital anal?). Driscoll might be the Fred Durst of Christianity, but the objection is not to him discussing sexual matters! Although it is amusing when young pseudo-hip evangelical guy, who would never listen to Dan Savage or Eminem and regard John McCarthur as a bit fuddy-duddy, like Driscoll because Ed-Hardy-t-shirts-and-pussy-talk seems cool, edgy and Christian (to the max!) ;)
       

      • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

        I think you’ve been confusing the stating of the current legal understanding and separate to that, a theological understanding of what’s going on in sex. While the two may share many touch-points, they are ultimately different, independent ways of exploring the same thing.

        It strikes me that the idea that the anus is *not* designed for sex simply because it already functions as a waste-disposal orifice rather falls down when one considers the penis. Of course, that is just on preliminary consideration. We then have to ask ourselves whether there is a difference between the anus and the penis. Urine tends to be sterile (though there are exceptions) whilst by its very nature faeces is not. So in this sense the “natural” argument against anal sex begins to take form. We know from good research that anal sex *is* far more dangerous than vaginal sex (the figures I’ve seen indicate 10 times as likely to transmit STDs or cause physical harm) and of course it is by no means exclusively a same-sex practice.

        Finally, I think you’re slightly obsessed by Mark Driscoll and sex. Try reading some of the 99% of his material that isn’t on the subject. To be honest, these days I switch off as soon as you mention him…

        • Cerebusboy

           No, I’m the emphasising the difference, unlike the Save Marriage lobby who (there not being enough anti-gay evangelical/fundamentalist Christians in the UK to form any kind of majority) who are being very slippery in conflating the Sacrament (or whatever protestant term you’d prefer ) of Marriage with the anachronisms and absurdities of marriage in UK law. How Muslims (or “biblical” Christians who’ve read the OT, which really ought to be most of them) can say, with a straight face, that marriage has at all times in all cultures been a union between one man and one woman is quite beyond me, aside from which lying is, last time I checked, still a sin.  It’s like when the C of E (or whoever) count as “Christians” everyone who attends a church at Easter and (or indeed or) Christmas or has been baptised, yet wonders why most people don’t appear to subscribe to the harsh “biblical” line. You can’t, if we’re being honest, have it both ways.

           As for anal, a big difference relative to one sex act is still, if we’re discussing a model of deviations from Design and inbuilt penalites thereof, not all that convincing if we’re still just discussing tiny minorities. An Omnipotent Being is surely capable, if anal sex is a gross offence against Natural Law, to make every such act carry physical penalties (similarly, HIV, as evangelical doctor friends of mine tend to concur, is very difficult to catch). If we are reading meanings from physical acts and relating them to Natural Law, then is it not more justifiable to say that *promiscuity* is the vice? I quite concur that (as example) a sloppy party bottom who doesn’t use protection might well contract something nasty, as too would the promiscuous woman who doesn’t take precaution. Is it not concerning – fornication being a sin – that gay people per se are highly illogically condemned for an act that straight people indulge in to? And I do have to laugh when conservatives quote statistics that supposedly show that anal sex is unpopular among straights. Have they not noticed the vast discrepancy between what straight men and straight women report as their average amount of sexual partners?  They are not under oath and, even if they were, I doubt the results would be any more honest. One might as well claim that straight men are less fond of masturbation than gays. 

  • Tom Jones

    Peter, can you pleases it possible to turn off the predictive text or whatever it is that thinks it knows better when we type something into this box to post. In my last post Coitus interruptus has become coitus interrupts because I didn’t notice the little blue ticket offering me the alternative. (I normally type hunt and peck because I have to look at the keyboard so I wrote my last post on Catholic sexual ethics and pasted it in – yet it didn’t stop the autocorrection happening. Do others find it a real pain….?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Nothing to do with this site!

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