Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why gay marriage might help the church but hurt the country Part 2

So last time I talked about how gay marriage might help the church. But I'm still politically against gay marriage because I think it will likely hurt the state. Now if the possible good outcome for the church I talked a out last time happens at all it won't happen all at once when the law changes but will develop gradually in response to the new conditions. I think the bad results for the state will be even slower and more gradual. But I think this makes the problem worse not better. If the negative effects were seen immediately there might be some chance to back peddle. However I think these effects will only become apparent after they are widespread and irreversible. 

In this post Sarah Hoyt makes a clear logical argument as to why gays would want “marriage” not just a civil union. She makes a point that there is a weight of tradition, that the word encourages stability and enforces a public commitment. She points out the problem of hetero couples using civil unions for less serious commitments.
But right now the state does not strongly enforce the permanency of marriage. And we are seeing a high divorce rate with as many as 50% of all marriages ending in divorce. We have celebrities who throw big weddings and are getting divorced before you have time to turn around. People tisk and speculate how committed they really were in the first place. But there is no hint that there is or even should be any actual enforceable consequences to making a frivolous marriage.
It is in America's best interest, however, to be able to promote serious commitment with policy. It's also good to know when someone doesn't have a committed partner they can lean on and might need more help in hard times. But there's no way for a bureaucracy to look into the heart and detect a serious commitment. So we have built a large accumulation of policy based on using a legal marriage as a proxy for commitment.
There are two reasons this has worked as a proxy for commitment. The first is that the state used to enforce the commitment by making it very difficult to get out of and by treating the commitment as legally binding. This is increasingly no longer the case. The second is that churches and other religious organizations presented it as a grave commitment to God, who could not only say you need to stay married but could look into hears and would know if you weren't really doing your best to love, honor and cherish the other person. This formed the basis for a shared social consensus for the serious of marriage and a shared expectation of the gravity of beginning or ending one.
Even if most formally withdraw from civil marriages in general there will be significant churches at least some civil marriages won't be recognized as religiously valid. It will often be those churches most interested in doing moral enforcement of marriage norms were what they mean by marriage and what the state now means be marriage are obviously not the same. This will mean they have the effect of eroding rather than encouraging shared general consensus. We're already losing shared social consensus on a lot of things. While it will take time for this erosion to take place we will be headed in the direction of legal marriage being just a bundle of tax and benefit implication that should taken up and put down when convenient.
         We will no longer be able to use marriage policy to effectively promote stable family formation or determine who needs support. I can think of ways to try to force marriage to still equal serious romantic commitment but I can also see serious problems with all of them. I think the only realistic possibility is political marriage policy becoming set of vestigial loopholes that are clinically exploited. And this would be bad for America.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why gay marriage might help the church but hurt the country. Part 1

Marriage certificate from a Bible

I think it's very clear in scripture that when God instituted marriage He specified it to be between a man and a woman. I also don't think it's in the best interests of America to change our traditional understanding of marriage. But I do think it might be of benefit to the Christian church if the federal government recognizes gay marriage. My reasoning on this is a little different from what I've heard elsewhere so I want to lay it out:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Which Regrets

      "Every decision has its price.... It's not given to anyone to have no regrets; only to decide, through the choice we make, which regrets we'll have."

        -David Weber In Fury Born

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Good Book

I have a tendency to leave books scattered around the house wherever I happen to be reading them. A couple of days ago I had left one of my bibles on the couch, and my husband took a couple of cute pictures of our dog Geisha leaning against it. And he found part of the cuteness in the fact that it was the “good book” rather than some random book that I had left there, as if Geisha had some idea what book she was leaning against.But of course a dog cannot understand what a bible really is, beyond a particular copy having a nice feeling cover. 
          We can know what an incredible gift the bible is. This treasure of God revealing himself to man. This chance we have to read about His deeds and to see parts of His character. But I think sometimes we focus so much on the presence of the divine manifest in this knowledge that we forget this is also a book. I've been thinking this week about being interested in the people and times that God was interested in. Noting the human element that God was engaging with and that he chose to convey his word through, reminds me to come to the Bible with all of my mind, ready for God to engage my humanness.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The benefits of low eye contact

Like most people on the Autism spectrum making eye contact with people is not an instinctual thing for me. In fact it makes me uncomfortable and is distracting. But I have learned how to do it and I can usually even do it while sparing half a mind to pay attention to something else as well. But is it always worth it to put in that effort?
photo by Michele Laterza
Some time ago I was experimenting with wearing sunglasses to what effect taking eyecontact out of the equation would have on causal interactions like dealing with the checkout clerk. One of the first things I noticed was that more people were getting in my way at the grocery store. Or to be more accurate not getting out of my way. On subsequent observation and reflection it seems that a woman walking towards on a collision path and looking at you without meeting your eyes triggers some sort of social response and leads to alteration of of path to avoid collision.
Just to be clear, I don't think I started out making the assumption that other people would be the ones to change their path. But because of my trouble correctly perceiving and interpreting motion I take a second or two longer than most people to change my path. The fact that people were preemptively moving out of my way probably increased my subconscious belief that vectors were likely to change so that I needed to give things time to settle down.
Lack of eye contact also does cut down on surprise occurrences of chit-chat. Since I find chit-chat almost uniformly stressful the decrease in its incidence does sometimes seem like an OK trade off for unintentionally appearing less friendly. Overall I do think meeting people's eyes is a very good skill to have so you can use When you WANT to. But our goal shouldn't be to use eye contact just like neurotypicals. The goal is to communicate in a way that can be. Understood, not to put on a mask and pretend to be normal.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Accomidating myself

I've been neglecting my blog lately. Some of it is various types of busyness. But the primary problem has been technical difficulties. Or not really technical difficulties, more like difficulties with how my own head related to the tech situation. First, the computer I used to use to composes and post, it's ability to connect to the Internet died. And then in rearranging our house the seat at the desk I used to use to work on the blog went away. Now at no point did I face an insurmountable difficulty. I just couldn't work on the blog with same routine at the same place anytime I wanted to. I would have an idea for a blog but I would struggle with a copy and paste, or spend ten minutes trying to include a picture. And pretty soon I was out of the habit of blogging. Looking back I'm surprised at how a little extra difficulty derailed a process I had already routinely spent so much effort on. Being unfamiliar with the interface or uneasy in my location made me uncomfortable with the whole blogging process. I'm uncertain how much of it is me, how much is due to Asperger's syndrome and how much is just an average human reaction.
Well I've figured out how to cut and paste on an iPad. I have a little more comfort in my new routine. I'm going to try to get back to blogging. But I probably won't do it quite as much as I did before. Amount other reasons, I'm going to try and write a novel and that will crowd out blog writing time to a considerable extent.