Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Discuss literature (e.g. books, newspapers), educational studies (getting help or opinions on homework or an essay), and philosophy.

What religion do you follow?

Baha'i
0
No votes
Buddhism
8
3%
Christianity
86
36%
Hinduism
1
0%
Islam
12
5%
Judaism
1
0%
Nature-based/Pagan/Shamanistic/Indigenous Religions
4
2%
Sikhism
3
1%
Taoism
12
5%
Unitarian Universalist
2
1%
I'm agnostic
41
17%
I'm atheist
48
20%
Other (please explain)
24
10%
 
Total votes : 242

Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby FoxWithWings » Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:00 am

SunXia

First off, I agree completely with everything you said, just want to add a few extra points. Also, I'm not familiar with Leelah Alcorn, I'll go with what you said in your post.

I agree with Shika as what works for one person does not work for another. Religion and Faith is great for a lot of people who find strength and purpose in their faith but it isn't good for those who are persecuted and forced to feel shame from a faith they have been raised under. One case would be Leelah Alcorn, look at how her family's refusal to accept her chosen identity and desires affected her. Look at what is a likely result when your family and those in your church continue to browbeat you with the idea that their God doesn't make mistakes, that you are a freak of nature and that you should just turn to their God. Being isolated from the outside world with nobody to talk to but your religious family and church "healers" contributed to making a very confused persons life seemingly unbearable. Even now, knowing how much their treatment caused Leelah to hate herself, her parents still spout religion when it was damaging to her.


There is nothing more despicable for a so called "Christian" than for them to do something like this. Nothing makes me more furious than this.

No, God never make mistakes, and He sure as hell didn't make a mistake when He made Leelah. The only mistake He might have made was having her born to such idiotic and wicked parents. No parent should ever reject their child for being transgender. NEVER. A child is a gift and privilege from God, to be cherished and cared for. If one of my future children was transgender, I would work to understand them, console them, and respect whatever choice they made.

Was she at fault? Well is anyone who is psychologically affected by abuse at fault for it affecting their judgement and happiness? Faith can hardly be a pillar of strength for someone who faith is being used as an excuse to try and "fix" them. She hated the life her parents were forcing her to lead, a life away from her peers, a life being forced to listen from "healers" about how wrong she was and how she should just turn to their God. She hated having arguments with her mother and family since she was 14 and she hated being isolated. Most of all, knowing she was transgender and being made to feel more like a freak by parents who loved her but didn't act lovingly towards her, she hated herself.


Yes, she was at fault. But you cannot hold it against her, given everything that happened to her.

This is exactly why I say Faith cannot, and absolutely should not be forced. It is always voluntary.

Leelah's thoughts were not rational but neither was the "treatment" she was undergoing. Telling someone to just trust God does not help if those who follow God refuse to accept her. She could have had faith but that type of thing can be tarnish when people around you are insisting that the God you believe in won't accept you, that he doesn't make mistakes that he doesn't make freaks etc etc.


In that situation I would highly recommend her to find real Christians, if not that, at least people who will make an attempt to help her. Clearly, the people she was surrounded by were useless.

Sure, many can find strength in God and in their faith in God, but many need to find that strength elsewhere in friends and other things. When that is denied to you then its very difficult to see that strength or to feel that strength when your self-worth is weak, when your grip on rational thought is weak from depression. Sure she would not have lived in her parents home all her life but its very difficult to see that when you are in that environment, when the pressure of self-hate and depression is building around her.

I'm glad lots of people have been able to turn to God in grief and do good things for others and such. But I don't think it should be forced on everyone as a healing measure as everyone is different and not everyone finds strength in faith, and many find hatred from those of faith so its understandable.


In my experience, it is better to trust in God rather than man. I've met people who've had longtime friends betray them. But still, for Leelah's case it would have been the best course for her. I am reluctant to say this, but it is sometimes better to avoid religion.

Shika

There seem to be many strings to this power.


There's only that one string, just gotta realize you CAN.

Do all of them really? There are alot of hard obstacles out there. Many humans, regardless of their inner fortitude, are not in their control. They may not be able to control them mentally or they may not be able to control them physically (or biologically). I still think its a foolhardy position to take that we can truly handle everything thrown at us (us metaphorically


Then how else would we survive? We must have the strength, otherwise we're screwed. Unless the thing that's thrown at us can be avoided.

I think your latter statement sums up my reply. In my post I explicitly stated faith, like any idea or concept, can be a useful motivator or sustainer. So I obvious agree it can help. But the statement 'god never gives us anything we can't handle' isn't a statement which says 'faith can help'. Its a absolute statement that with faith anything can be overcome, i.e. faith is a cure-all.


If anything, it sustains the spirit until a solution to the problem is found.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:39 am

I'll get to your first paragraph below in a bit, James. :)

James wrote:What cultural outliers impact a? I mean, there are some—like intolerance—but I'm just curious what comes to mind.


I didn't have anything esoteric in mind. Just noting that in this day and age, in the modern West, arranged marriage isn't practised very widely anymore. As such, we have very different expectations of what goes into a 'loving' relationship than people did even 150 or 200 years ago in the West, or as recently as 40 or 50 years ago in, say, China or Kazakhstan. And what I saw from people living in arranged marriages and elopements there, was very different from what I'd been taught to expect.

I'm not in favour of arranged marriage (not really against it either), and of course I'm certainly not in favour of cultural practices like ala qyz. But I've observed that people who have been flung together, even if they aren't necessarily romantically attached, can still make a happy, satisfactory and even loving life together... if they share a set of common long-term goals and life-projects. That's all I really meant to point out.

James wrote:I'm not sure that this is a realistic means through which to approach the concept of love. This is why I mentioned, previously, that love is not something which can be broken down to a formula or checklist.


:lol: Well, obviously you don't think that's true yourself, otherwise you would have no grounds for comparison as in your above paragraph, between heterosexual and homosexual couples.

James wrote:So what can we do in defining love? Scientifically we can boil it down to a chemical process in the brain and that is something we can literally measure. But do we want to use it as a concept to describe something much more? I say it is worth doing so because we need language to describe it; and because society uses the word to describe it. Do we want to measure it in such a form? We cannot, because it is an abstract concept.


Between 'neurochemical' and 'abstract' there is a vast deal of territory that you just skipped over. All that messy business of real-life social interaction is nicely eluded.

But as it turns out, I don't think you're actually substantively disagreeing with me. For example, your 'extreme' example of a woman who falls in love with a man whom she thinks is really awesome but then turns out to be an alcoholic - I wouldn't say, for example, that she made a 'bad' or a 'wrong' decision, because obviously she is thinking about certain shared long-term goals that would end up being compromised by her partner's habit. Same with the couple where one is materialistic and ambitious, and the other is not.

And yes, any particular case is always going to be messy, and it is always going to involve negotiation of some sort, because no two people are the same.

But that's no reason to give up trying to describe it. Same with any messy philosophical question. Same with literature. Same with history. Same with social science. Same with politics. Same with any of the fundamental questions that go to the heart of what it means to be human. If these questions were easy or had easy answers, our lives would be really, really boring. But just because a question is hard doesn't mean you give up trying to answer it.

James wrote:Which really all comes back to my original position here. The extent to which an individual factor is important to one relationship varies from another, and that includes sexual intercourse. And the extent to which these individual factors are important to individuals is not something people are particularly good at changing (although we can do a fantastic job of denying and ignoring) or even being aware of going into a relationship.


No one thinks food is all that important until they start to go hungry. Or water until they're thirsty. But they are basic needs, yes? It's (generally) the same with procreation, I would imagine. And, even if not with procreation, then for certain long-term relationships of unconditional care that would ideally pertain between a parent and a child.

It's true that these relationships aren't always there. But that doesn't diminish their general importance to human health. Do we say that food is no longer an issue of importance, because somewhere in the world people are starving to death?

James wrote:For the unsolicited James stamp of approval:
1) Intercourse should be consensual between two parties able to give competent consent.
2) Intercourse should not harm another party with cause to feel harmed (e.g. cheating, disease).


Both are fine. As far as they go.

But I will note that these two conditions both successfully apply to my arranged-marriage scenario (1) above, which I think we both agreed was not a healthy and loving relationship. I am forced to assume that when you said above 'a person who chooses to serve another out of kindness, for money, for shared interest—has a very different perspective from that of a person who is forced to serve another, even if the other factors are involved', you had something different in mind...?

James wrote:Part of my confusion is likely a product of my belief that homosexual couples are capable of loving in the same way, being sad in the same way, sharing in intimacy in what is effectively the same way (while plumbing may vary, the physical responses and conclusions remain effectively equivalent). And that love, sadness—care, sympathy, empathy—extends not just to one another, but to their children as well. There must necessarily be some differences.


I'm still not even sure what that 'way' is in your view, that heterosexuals are loving each other. If it's just being able to legally, competently consent to sex - for whatever reason - then yes, I agree homosexuals are perfectly capable of doing that too. If it's just mutually having the romantic emotional states (sadness, care, sympathy, empathy), then yes, I agree homosexuals are perfectly capable of doing that too. I'm just not convinced yet that the entire scope of the concept of 'love' can be safely encompassed by sexual consent and romantic emotions.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:45 pm

FoxWithWings wrote:Dong Zhou

No, as smallpox (as far as I know) doesn't destroy people's rationality. it is is the equivalent of someone dying of smallpox and blaming them for giving up.


Again, not really, and again, I am not blaming them. I only mean it is their choice and their own fault when they take their own lives.


Again the "I don't blame them and it is their fault" so how is that not blaming? I must simply not understand.

Shi has also talked of free will over what they do so I'll widen my argument.

If a person is not suffering from mental health issues then yes, it is an issue of free will and responsibility, those that do or attempt suicide when they mind is unclouded (or not been crushed by abuse) have chosen that step. There are also the people involved in that person's life (including if the person is suffering from mental health problem) who, as much as nobody likes to say it, people around the dead person can also be responsible. Just like if a person you live with is allergic to cats and you get/keep the cat, then they do from it, your responsible. As a person from a country where people taking responsibility for their own actions is a bit too rare, I am all for getting people to accept responsibility

With mental health, the mind is ill and needs what medical help can be found, if that is not the case then there is no need for medical care or laws that take into account a person's mental state when facing the law. The person no longer has complete control of their emotional or mental state, they can not think 100% clearly all the time. They a victim of illness as much as the person who dies of smallpox. Those around them may be guilty over it (or not) but the person them-self doesn't think straight, the parts that might stop them from killing themselves are inaccessible.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby FoxWithWings » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:22 pm

Again the "I don't blame them and it is their fault" so how is that not blaming? I must simply not understand.


Because it is an action they committed, they can be held accountable, or at fault.

But on the same stroke, we cannot hold that against them, or blame what happened, on them exclusively. Saying that it was "just a loony killing his or herself", and leaving it at that. It is much more than that. It was someone being beaten down by depression and strife. Something we should seek to understand and not simply dismiss, so another person does not follow the same course and throw their life away.

If a person is not suffering from mental health issues then yes, it is an issue of free will and responsibility, those that do or attempt suicide when they mind is unclouded (or not been crushed by abuse) have chosen that step. There are also the people involved in that person's life (including if the person is suffering from mental health problem) who, as much as nobody likes to say it, people around the dead person can also be responsible. Just like if a person you live with is allergic to cats and you get/keep the cat, then they do from it, your responsible. As a person from a country where people taking responsibility for their own actions is a bit too rare, I am all for getting people to accept responsibility


We disagree on your first point. I think its a choice no matter what, depression or no. When they are burdened with depression, I also think that the temptation to make that bad choice is just stronger than it was before.

With the rest, I agree. If someone drove another to suicide, that causer should buck up and take responsibility.

But what of this Zhou. What if the person who drove them did it accidentally? What if they didn't mean to at all? I don't mean to say they shouldn't take responsibility, just that their position would be different.

With mental health, the mind is ill and needs what medical help can be found, if that is not the case then there is no need for medical care or laws that take into account a person's mental state when facing the law. The person no longer has complete control of their emotional or mental state, they can not think 100% clearly all the time. They a victim of illness as much as the person who dies of smallpox. Those around them may be guilty over it (or not) but the person them-self doesn't think straight, the parts that might stop them from killing themselves are inaccessible.


I have a hard time trying to decipher this. Are you trying to say that disturbed individuals should not be held accountable, for a crime such as assault or even murder?
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby James » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:06 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:I didn't have anything esoteric in mind. Just noting that in this day and age, in the modern West, arranged marriage isn't practised very widely anymore. As such, we have very different expectations of what goes into a 'loving' relationship than people did even 150 or 200 years ago in the West, or as recently as 40 or 50 years ago in, say, China or Kazakhstan. And what I saw from people living in arranged marriages and elopements there, was very different from what I'd been taught to expect.

I'm not in favour of arranged marriage (not really against it either), and of course I'm certainly not in favour of cultural practices like ala qyz. But I've observed that people who have been flung together, even if they aren't necessarily romantically attached, can still make a happy, satisfactory and even loving life together... if they share a set of common long-term goals and life-projects. That's all I really meant to point out.

Understood. Although for what it's worth I would expect happiness to statistically diminished role in arranged marriages as compared to marriages of free will, and expect much of what holds some arranged marriages together is cultural or familial expectation. Regardless, there's no reason why an individual arranged marriage can't turn out quite exceptionally. And I'm personally opposed to such a notion (where a party is married against one's will) because free will.

WeiWenDi wrote: :lol: Well, obviously you don't think that's true yourself, otherwise you would have no grounds for comparison as in your above paragraph, between heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Or, if you're interpreting what I said to be in direct contradiction to another statement I made in the same reply, is it possible that you've misunderstood me? I gave no formula for love at any point—only recognized that no such formula can exist. That doesn't mean a healthy relationship doesn't involve common characteristics, or that the concept, however abstract, must be different for homosexual couples.

WeiWenDi wrote:Between 'neurochemical' and 'abstract' there is a vast deal of territory that you just skipped over. All that messy business of real-life social interaction is nicely eluded.

But as it turns out, I don't think you're actually substantively disagreeing with me. For example, your 'extreme' example of a woman who falls in love with a man whom she thinks is really awesome but then turns out to be an alcoholic - I wouldn't say, for example, that she made a 'bad' or a 'wrong' decision, because obviously she is thinking about certain shared long-term goals that would end up being compromised by her partner's habit. Same with the couple where one is materialistic and ambitious, and the other is not.

And yes, any particular case is always going to be messy, and it is always going to involve negotiation of some sort, because no two people are the same.

But that's no reason to give up trying to describe it. Same with any messy philosophical question. Same with literature. Same with history. Same with social science. Same with politics. Same with any of the fundamental questions that go to the heart of what it means to be human. If these questions were easy or had easy answers, our lives would be really, really boring. But just because a question is hard doesn't mean you give up trying to answer it.

Like you said, I think we're agreeing here. As for what I skipped over, my writing was deliberately 'brief' (quotes because it has not been brief) and my aim to imply the range of variability between our abstract concepts of what love is and the most basic of scientific explanations. And I thought my examples might acknowledge some of that messy life business.

"What is love?" as a philosophical question is probably a thing that deserves its own topic. One which could go on for thousands of replies with no real answer, just as would be the case for, "What is the meaning of life?" It seems unnecessary to define such an abstract term—not that it can be adequately defined in the first place—for the sake of another conversation (however interesting the subject may be to consider). And introducing too much philosophical concern to something such as homosexual marriage only complicates the subject and discussion. This is especially so in my mind where it is a matter of civil rights.

WeiWenDi wrote:No one thinks food is all that important until they start to go hungry. Or water until they're thirsty. But they are basic needs, yes? It's (generally) the same with procreation, I would imagine. And, even if not with procreation, then for certain long-term relationships of unconditional care that would ideally pertain between a parent and a child.

It's true that these relationships aren't always there. But that doesn't diminish their general importance to human health. Do we say that food is no longer an issue of importance, because somewhere in the world people are starving to death?

Food and drink are essential to the survival of individuals. Procreation is essential to the survival of the species. There is no need for procreation on an individual basis (beyond how an individual may choose to observe such a need). Indeed, as a race, I think we've procreated rather successfully and if anything the world, and our species, would be much better off if there were fewer of us.

And there need be no causal relationship between our species' need to procreate and the relationship between parents and children. Nor need our 'old brain' drive to procreate detract from a same-sex couple's capability to parent a child more so than another parent's (outside perhaps the example of a biological mother). Heck, if anything the male 'old brain' wants to do more harm than good to a modern relationship.

But more to the point I believe these are lesser concerns in effective and good parenting. Something so simple as the extent to which a parent is dedicated to their children matters far more than any such concern.

James wrote:For the unsolicited James stamp of approval:
1) Intercourse should be consensual between two parties able to give competent consent.
2) Intercourse should not harm another party with cause to feel harmed (e.g. cheating, disease).


WeiWenDi wrote:Both are fine. As far as they go.

But I will note that these two conditions both successfully apply to my arranged-marriage scenario (1) above, which I think we both agreed was not a healthy and loving relationship. I am forced to assume that when you said above 'a person who chooses to serve another out of kindness, for money, for shared interest—has a very different perspective from that of a person who is forced to serve another, even if the other factors are involved', you had something different in mind...?

My examples are merely an outline of what I deem morally acceptable. If an arranged-marriage couple is held together against their will it contradicts the morals I've outlined, and if they're staying together of their free will today (however the relationship started) it becomes disingenuous to press concern on grounds of free will. And even in an arranged marriage, I've nothing against intercourse that both parties welcome. You ought not to draw conclusions beyond that, at least where my own view is concerned, because this is simply what I deem morally sound, from the perspective of an outside party, and not criteria for a relationship that is, itself, healthy or loving.

I mean... if one is to be stuck in a forced relationship for whatever reason (one accepts and chooses to support), you might as well make the best of it? Doesn't mean one wouldn't be happier in another circumstance.

WeiWenDi wrote:I'm still not even sure what that 'way' is in your view, that heterosexuals are loving each other. If it's just being able to legally, competently consent to sex - for whatever reason - then yes, I agree homosexuals are perfectly capable of doing that too. If it's just mutually having the romantic emotional states (sadness, care, sympathy, empathy), then yes, I agree homosexuals are perfectly capable of doing that too. I'm just not convinced yet that the entire scope of the concept of 'love' can be safely encompassed by sexual consent and romantic emotions.

In what ways are they unable (or otherwise less able) to love one another? You certainly do not need to have a biological child with another in order to 'love' them by any rational definition of the word/concept.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:18 am

James wrote:Understood. Although for what it's worth I would expect happiness to statistically diminished role in arranged marriages as compared to marriages of free will, and expect much of what holds some arranged marriages together is cultural or familial expectation. Regardless, there's no reason why an individual arranged marriage can't turn out quite exceptionally. And I'm personally opposed to such a notion (where a party is married against one's will) because free will.


Agreed.

There's actually much to be said for the norms of traditional courtship - matchmakers, formal introductions, coming-of-age rites. I'm not unsympathetic at all to Tevye the milkman or the way of life he lost. But ultimately I think the Victorians had the right idea. Each party should be perfectly free to say 'no' at any time before the marriage actually occurs, and should not have to face blame for it (barring exceptional circumstances).

James wrote:Or, if you're interpreting what I said to be in direct contradiction to another statement I made in the same reply, is it possible that you've misunderstood me? I gave no formula for love at any point—only recognized that no such formula can exist. That doesn't mean a healthy relationship doesn't involve common characteristics, or that the concept, however abstract, must be different for homosexual couples.


You'll note that I've made no 'formula' either, and I'm not entirely sure why you're arguing as though I have. I'm merely marking some of the 'common characteristics' of healthy long-term relationships and what they involve, and putting forth examples to show that mere attraction and emotions aren't enough to go on. What I'm saying isn't even that controversial: there need to be certain shared life-goals attached as well. I'm not even detailing the content of those life-goals at this point.

But I do note that the very concept is different for homosexual couples in one very notable and significant aspect - the possibility of procreation is directly precluded.

James wrote:And introducing too much philosophical concern to something such as homosexual marriage only complicates the subject and discussion. This is especially so in my mind where it is a matter of civil rights.


Here we just plain disagree. People don't think enough about these issues, and if they did the answers would not be so clear-cut.

For example, marriage is not a 'civil right' and never has been, even for heterosexuals. That's simply not a philosophical stance, but an anthropological one. It's an institution - a set of social rules - which existed prior to and independent of the state, but which the state has been required for the sake of its own survival to recognise. Insofar as the rules and the social ontology of marriage as a whole can apply to homosexuals, that very much is a philosophical question - and it is my deep-seated suspicion that marriage requires something far more than just sexual attraction and romantic feelings.

Insofar as 'civil rights' attain, I hold that civil partnerships between homosexual couples ought to be legally-recognised and enforced. There are certain goods at stake in these cases (I'm sure you understand what these are) which should not be withheld from homosexual partners, even if people believe the relationship is wrong or sinful.

James wrote:Food and drink are essential to the survival of individuals. Procreation is essential to the survival of the species. There is no need for procreation on an individual basis (beyond how an individual may choose to observe such a need).


Some form of personal parental care is also essential to the survival of individuals, prior to a certain age. And, to be blunt, from a biological viewpoint each one of us that wasn't born in a test-tube has our biological parents' procreation to thank for our individual survival as well.

James wrote:But more to the point I believe these are lesser concerns in effective and good parenting. Something so simple as the extent to which a parent is dedicated to their children matters far more than any such concern.


Agreed, but I suspect that my understanding of 'the extent to which a parent is dedicated to their children' is a bit more expansive than what you seem to mean here.

James wrote:I mean... if one is to be stuck in a forced relationship for whatever reason (one accepts and chooses to support), you might as well make the best of it? Doesn't mean one wouldn't be happier in another circumstance.


Personally I find highly suspect the Benthamite notion that each of us has an absolute 'happiness' meter such that we are even able to correctly compare two such circumstances. If a couple is married and has managed to successfully build a shared life together, there are already certain shared goods and individual commitments involved there that make such cross-sectional cost-benefit analysis almost prohibitively difficult, and to my view even wrong. If I'm going through my married life with an eye to the other possibilities I might have missed, I'm certainly not making myself any happier, and I'm definitely not making my partner any happier.

James wrote:In what ways are they unable (or otherwise less able) to love one another? You certainly do not need to have a biological child with another in order to 'love' them by any rational definition of the word/concept.


The ancient Greeks were, as is very well-attested, not in any way opposed to the idea of homosexual eros. Indeed, Plato saw in homosexual eros the highest expression of love. But at the same time, homosexual eros and marital eros were held to be distinctive, and different from each other, and oriented to different ends. For Plato, homosexual eros was geared toward inspiring art, literature and feats of martial ability, and was best expressed in chaste and sublimated ways (hence, 'Platonic love'); marital eros was geared toward consummation, procreation and rearing of children. I don't think it would be exaggerating to say that he would have found the confusion of the two spheres baffling.

But the idea that there might be fundamental differences between the erotic love that attains between a man and a woman, and the erotic love that attains between two men, or two women, is not a new one and it is not one that has no rational basis.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby James » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:43 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:Agreed.

There's actually much to be said for the norms of traditional courtship - matchmakers, formal introductions, coming-of-age rites. I'm not unsympathetic at all to Tevye the milkman or the way of life he lost. But ultimately I think the Victorians had the right idea. Each party should be perfectly free to say 'no' at any time before the marriage actually occurs, and should not have to face blame for it (barring exceptional circumstances).

This all sounds good to me. Well, outside Tevye, the associated stories I have not read, and match makers, a subject of which I have not read all that much—just bits and pieces such as those who could be described in this way to helped, as an example, to match those with title to partners, such as wealthy heiresses coming from the United States. It reminds me somewhat of a pre-Internet dating service/directory.

WeiWenDi wrote:You'll note that I've made no 'formula' either, and I'm not entirely sure why you're arguing as though I have. I'm merely marking some of the 'common characteristics' of healthy long-term relationships and what they involve, and putting forth examples to show that mere attraction and emotions aren't enough to go on. What I'm saying isn't even that controversial: there need to be certain shared life-goals attached as well. I'm not even detailing the content of those life-goals at this point.

But I do note that the very concept is different for homosexual couples in one very notable and significant aspect - the possibility of procreation is directly precluded.

That's rather confusing. I pointed out that love has no formula and you countered that 'obviously you don't think that's true yourself' using another paragraph as an example—leading to my most recent reply. Outside this, your first paragraph sounds good to me, unless you're saying that some of those 'life goals' must apply across all relationship. Sure, there would be common life goals.

I disagree on the second paragraph (specifically, "very notable and significant"). Precluding the possibility of procreation in a homosexual relationship (strictly in the biological sense) can be applied to any other couple who chooses not to have children or cannot (such as due to illness, surgery, genetics). The ability for any of these couples to biologically produce children has no material impact on the quality of a relationship beyond any weight given the subject by one party in that relationship (e.g. a husband who becomes unhappy in the knowledge that his wife cannot have a child).

WeiWenDi wrote:Here we just plain disagree. People don't think enough about these issues, and if they did the answers would not be so clear-cut.

Thinking about these subjects is not the same thing as focusing on a philosophical discussion at the expense of a subject's fundamentals. People should think more about these subjects, but that doesn't mean answers won't be clear-cut. For example, I've thought about this extensively and I do have pretty direct opinions and beliefs where same-sex marriage is concerned.

WeiWenDi wrote:For example, marriage is not a 'civil right' and never has been, even for heterosexuals. That's simply not a philosophical stance, but an anthropological one. It's an institution - a set of social rules - which existed prior to and independent of the state, but which the state has been required for the sake of its own survival to recognise. Insofar as the rules and the social ontology of marriage as a whole can apply to homosexuals, that very much is a philosophical question - and it is my deep-seated suspicion that marriage requires something far more than just sexual attraction and romantic feelings.

Insofar as 'civil rights' attain, I hold that civil partnerships between homosexual couples ought to be legally-recognised and enforced. There are certain goods at stake in these cases (I'm sure you understand what these are) which should not be withheld from homosexual partners, even if people believe the relationship is wrong or sinful.

Marriage, in the United States, has been maintained to be a fundamental right of citizens. It has long been maintained a right. What has evolved is the people to which marriage has been accessible (for example, interracial marriage, and contested today, same-sex marriage). Civil rights—"the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality" very much applies to marriage as it is a right denied same-sex couples. Or at least it does to those who believe they should have access to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Now, what is marriage? You can describe the 'institution' of marriage from a given religious construct, such as the way the Catholic church views a marriage, and that is not a right to an individual. No couple has a right to have their marriage viewed as a marriage in the eyes of a religion. But marriage, as a contract recognized by the state, is a right, is a construct of the state, and that is what people are arguing for when they press for the government recognizing same-sex marriage.

It's important not to confuse these concepts because I don't believe religions should be forced to recognize an individual marriage. But I also believe in separation of church and state, and that religions should have no say in the lives of those who do not practice or recognize their faith.

I'm glad we're on relatively the same page in the last paragraph. We only disagree here in your withholding of the label, 'marriage', from same-sex couples (or at least that's how I read it; please correct if wrong). 'Marriage', the concept, also does not belong to a specific religion. For example, if a given religion—say, a Christian one—decides to extend 'marriage' to a same-sex couple, who are those in another religion to presume ownership? As for me, I reject the religious connotation. An atheist couple is welcome to be married in my book. And the state is welcome to perform a marriage ceremony as marriage does not belong to a specific religion or culture.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:Food and drink are essential to the survival of individuals. Procreation is essential to the survival of the species. There is no need for procreation on an individual basis (beyond how an individual may choose to observe such a need).

Some form of personal parental care is also essential to the survival of individuals, prior to a certain age. And, to be blunt, from a biological viewpoint each one of us that wasn't born in a test-tube has our biological parents' procreation to thank for our individual survival as well.

How does this address our disagreement? You drew what I believe is a false equivalence and your elaboration here doesn't really change that. Sure, a baby needs someone to look after it for a while. We're a pretty helpless species. But that protection can be provided by any good-intentioned human.

As for the biological production of a child, sure, a child wouldn't exist if they weren't produced, but once a child is produced it is no longer a basic need and doesn't address the discussion we were having.

WeiWenDi wrote:Agreed, but I suspect that my understanding of 'the extent to which a parent is dedicated to their children' is a bit more expansive than what you seem to mean here.

How so?

WeiWenDi wrote:Personally I find highly suspect the Benthamite notion that each of us has an absolute 'happiness' meter such that we are even able to correctly compare two such circumstances. If a couple is married and has managed to successfully build a shared life together, there are already certain shared goods and individual commitments involved there that make such cross-sectional cost-benefit analysis almost prohibitively difficult, and to my view even wrong. If I'm going through my married life with an eye to the other possibilities I might have missed, I'm certainly not making myself any happier, and I'm definitely not making my partner any happier.

This doesn't read as a reply to what I wrote. I was speaking of a 'forced marriage'—some marriage where, for whatever reason, the couple must stay together—in that paragraph, and I believe we agreed above that a couple in a forced marriage—as opposed to one of free will—is statistically less likely to find the same happiness (though not incapable of doing so). And I agree with your last sentence—but in context of the portion you replied to you seem to be agreeing with me (making the best of it).

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:In what ways are they unable (or otherwise less able) to love one another? You certainly do not need to have a biological child with another in order to 'love' them by any rational definition of the word/concept.

The ancient Greeks were, as is very well-attested, not in any way opposed to the idea of homosexual eros. Indeed, Plato saw in homosexual eros the highest expression of love. But at the same time, homosexual eros and marital eros were held to be distinctive, and different from each other, and oriented to different ends. For Plato, homosexual eros was geared toward inspiring art, literature and feats of martial ability, and was best expressed in chaste and sublimated ways (hence, 'Platonic love'); marital eros was geared toward consummation, procreation and rearing of children. I don't think it would be exaggerating to say that he would have found the confusion of the two spheres baffling.

But the idea that there might be fundamental differences between the erotic love that attains between a man and a woman, and the erotic love that attains between two men, or two women, is not a new one and it is not one that has no rational basis.

You didn't answer my question, though.

In what ways are they unable (or otherwise less able) to love one another?

What do you believe? In your own words? :pika:
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:12 am

James wrote:This all sounds good to me. Well, outside Tevye, the associated stories I have not read, and match makers, a subject of which I have not read all that much—just bits and pieces such as those who could be described in this way to helped, as an example, to match those with title to partners, such as wealthy heiresses coming from the United States. It reminds me somewhat of a pre-Internet dating service/directory.


I'm not sure the degree to which this is still common in the US. Certainly it's a common enough trope in American television, for example. I can well believe that there is a kind of unspoken (or not-so-unspoken) rule amongst wealthy families that dating should be organised for the best possible prospects. But by and large these aren't the expectations which prevail in our culture. We generally believe that marriage is best arranged not by families but by the two individuals in question, and I'm no exception to that belief. :)

James wrote:I disagree on the second paragraph (specifically, "very notable and significant"). Precluding the possibility of procreation in a homosexual relationship (strictly in the biological sense) can be applied to any other couple who chooses not to have children or cannot (such as due to illness, surgery, genetics).


That's kind of a bogus comparison. Illness at least is incidental to the orientation of the act itself, as are surgery and genetics (except in rare cases that I've discussed over on the other thread). Even in cases of infertility, heterosexual couples can still have the expectation that their relationship is conceptually open to the possibility of a child. There is a difference between incidental health-related reasons for infertility, and a relation wherein procreation is anatomically and physiologically impossible. It kind of reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, to be honest.

'I'm not oppressing you, Stan! You haven't got a womb! Where's the fetus going to gestate; you're going to keep it in a box?'

James wrote:Thinking about these subjects is not the same thing as focusing on a philosophical discussion at the expense of a subject's fundamentals. People should think more about these subjects, but that doesn't mean answers won't be clear-cut. For example, I've thought about this extensively and I do have pretty direct opinions and beliefs where same-sex marriage is concerned.


Wow.

Again, apparently nobody who thinks about these things can possibly think about them in a different way than you can. That's... pretty blunt, actually. And the part about fundamentals in particular - which fundamentals would those be?

James wrote:It's important not to confuse these concepts because I don't believe religions should be forced to recognize an individual marriage. But I also believe in separation of church and state, and that religions should have no say in the lives of those who do not practice or recognize their faith.


I don't actually believe the separation of church and state is ever fully possible, and ironically, the widespread 'belief' in separation of church and state lends credence to this. When the church is separated from the state, the state begins to act like its own church. And its sacraments are often incredibly vicious and bloodthirsty.

And I am unsure that the state can refrain from forcing religions to recognise an individual marriage. For example, in this story I agree that the behaviour of the couple in question is sketchy at best, but as a test case the stakes are pretty high. If the Hitching Post has reorganised as a 'religious corporation' or as a 'religious not-for-profit' as the story claims, the outcome of this case could have resounding implications for religious rights.

James wrote:We only disagree here in your withholding of the label, 'marriage', from same-sex couples (or at least that's how I read it; please correct if wrong). 'Marriage', the concept, also does not belong to a specific religion. For example, if a given religion—say, a Christian one—decides to extend 'marriage' to a same-sex couple, who are those in another religion to presume ownership? As for me, I reject the religious connotation.


No, you've read me correctly. And you're right that we disagree there.

Marriage as a concept has an anthropological and a theological component. So Christianity does recognise marriages - even non-Christian marriages - as valid insofar as they adhere to a Christian anthropology. So, for example, even though I was married to my atheist wife in a civil ceremony prior to my chrismation, the Orthodox Church recognises our marriage as valid and doesn't view either of us as living in fornication. (They would still prefer it if my wife converted and reaffirmed our vows within the Church, though. :P )

But, for example, if I was a Muslim or a Mormon with three wives, and I was looking to convert, the Orthodox Church would not recognise my second and third marriages, and would hold me to be living in bigamous adultery with these two women (but not with my first wife). I would have to obtain civil divorces from my two junior wives before converting.

James wrote:How does this address our disagreement? You drew what I believe is a false equivalence and your elaboration here doesn't really change that. Sure, a baby needs someone to look after it for a while. We're a pretty helpless species. But that protection can be provided by any good-intentioned human.

As for the biological production of a child, sure, a child wouldn't exist if they weren't produced, but once a child is produced it is no longer a basic need and doesn't address the discussion we were having.


You said procreation wasn't relevant to individual survival. I disagree completely - if an individual baby isn't conceived, gestated and born, to talk about its survival is kind of a moot point.

James wrote:How so?


To be perfectly blunt, step-parents do have a not-entirely-undeserved reputation for not treating their step-children as well as their natural children. (This is not an argument for curtailing the rights of step-parents, by the way - raw data by themselves do not constitute a full normative argument, though they can contribute to it!) Also, this article has some problems, but there are very real reasons to believe that children do need to be in contact with their natural parents, for reasons other than those associated with basic physical and emotional care. (Obviously, adopters love their children very much and take much better care of them, by most measurable standards, even than biological parents do. But there seems to be a spiritual lack which is driving, for example, the returnee phenomenon.)

James wrote:I was speaking of a 'forced marriage'—some marriage where, for whatever reason, the couple must stay together—in that paragraph, and I believe we agreed above that a couple in a forced marriage—as opposed to one of free will—is statistically less likely to find the same happiness (though not incapable of doing so). And I agree with your last sentence—but in context of the portion you replied to you seem to be agreeing with me (making the best of it).


Ah, okay. I think I must have been misreading you there, then. I agree with you here for the most part, actually.

But, interestingly enough, the literature I read in looking for relevant data on this question (here is a representative paper, with a pretty decent literature review) might be interesting for you to read! This paper seems to suggest that women, especially, are on the whole much happier (and happier in their relationships) in societies with traditional gender norms. But there are greater risks in terms of happiness - again, particularly for women - being involved in a cohabiting relationship in environments where it is not a sanctioned choice. The data in this particular paper also seem to show that women value social support networks outside their relationships more than men do, and are more likely to be affected by the moral judgements of their peers. They run multi-level MVRs on self-reported happiness statistics across a broad range of countries around the world, and the results are utterly fascinating.

James wrote:You didn't answer my question, though.

In what ways are they unable (or otherwise less able) to love one another?

What do you believe? In your own words? :pika:


Ah, now that's not fair! I was the one doing the Socratic questioning, here, so I will simply say: you first. You furnish me with a good working definition of love first, and I will then attempt to furnish you with an answer to this question about it!

Otherwise, I get the feeling I would have to do so only by first making a whole bunch of stipulations you likely wouldn't agree to in the first place.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby James » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:50 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:I'm not sure the degree to which this is still common in the US. Certainly it's a common enough trope in American television, for example. I can well believe that there is a kind of unspoken (or not-so-unspoken) rule amongst wealthy families that dating should be organised for the best possible prospects. But by and large these aren't the expectations which prevail in our culture. We generally believe that marriage is best arranged not by families but by the two individuals in question, and I'm no exception to that belief. :)

All sounds agreeable. I have a feeling that, in the case of many wealthy families, it is just parents expressing their own version of parental interests in the partner their children may end up with. For example, in wanting their child to end up with someone likely to receive a good education, go to college, have a career. While such positions can certainly be misguided they don't seem terribly uncommon. Another form of bias not unlike what I'd be inlined toward if my [fictional] daughter showed up with someone wearing smelly clothes, ear gages, and smelling of marijuana.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:I disagree on the second paragraph (specifically, "very notable and significant"). Precluding the possibility of procreation in a homosexual relationship (strictly in the biological sense) can be applied to any other couple who chooses not to have children or cannot (such as due to illness, surgery, genetics).

That's kind of a bogus comparison. Illness at least is incidental to the orientation of the act itself, as are surgery and genetics (except in rare cases that I've discussed over on the other thread). Even in cases of infertility, heterosexual couples can still have the expectation that their relationship is conceptually open to the possibility of a child. There is a difference between incidental health-related reasons for infertility, and a relation wherein procreation is anatomically and physiologically impossible. It kind of reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, to be honest.

'I'm not oppressing you, Stan! You haven't got a womb! Where's the fetus going to gestate; you're going to keep it in a box?'

Funny Monty Python skits aside, it seems you're characterizing it as a 'bogus' argument simply on grounds that you don't agree with it. For example, in believing that 'their relationship being conceptually open to the possibility of a child' is meaningful at all to the subject of whether they can be good parents. It certainly isn't (demonstrate me wrong?) based on any kind of actual research. The position is also dismissive of single parents. And the only difference between why a person/couple may be unable to have a child biologically is conceptual, in the eye of the beholder, and need carry no weight on the perspectives of the actual parents raising the child.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:Thinking about these subjects is not the same thing as focusing on a philosophical discussion at the expense of a subject's fundamentals. People should think more about these subjects, but that doesn't mean answers won't be clear-cut. For example, I've thought about this extensively and I do have pretty direct opinions and beliefs where same-sex marriage is concerned.

Wow.

Again, apparently nobody who thinks about these things can possibly think about them in a different way than you can. That's... pretty blunt, actually. And the part about fundamentals in particular - which fundamentals would those be?

Talking past me again, I see? I respect your point of view, and I respect it where you can construct an argument that is well-reasoned and sensible. Arguing a vague/remote perspective—such as your 'conceptually possible' argument above, as being highly material to the subject—one which involves so many far more important factors (such as spending time with the child, educating the child, researching and taking care in the child's health and ensuring the child has good healthcare, making good life choices to provide the child with opportunity)—is not such an argument (unless supported with evidence).

That I do have opinions on this subject in no way means I don't entertain opinions of others.

WeiWenDi wrote:I don't actually believe the separation of church and state is ever fully possible, and ironically, the widespread 'belief' in separation of church and state lends credence to this. When the church is separated from the state, the state begins to act like its own church. And its sacraments are often incredibly vicious and bloodthirsty.

I do not believe full separation of church and state is possible. Rather, I believe it is a concept we should strive toward. It is not possible to stop all forms of a violent crime, but we should still strive to stop those crimes. It is not possible to get all children a good education, but we should strive to do so. It is not possible to end homelessness, but we should strive to do so.

WeiWenDi wrote:And I am unsure that the state can refrain from forcing religions to recognise an individual marriage. For example, in this story I agree that the behaviour of the couple in question is sketchy at best, but as a test case the stakes are pretty high. If the Hitching Post has reorganised as a 'religious corporation' or as a 'religious not-for-profit' as the story claims, the outcome of this case could have resounding implications for religious rights.

American civil religion is an interesting concept, but it strikes me as rather bit an effort to characterize the amalgamation of American culture and nationalism—a concept which could be formed around other countries in their own unique manner; and it's 'sacraments' such as war, unrelated to this subject.

As for forcing a religion to recognize an individual marriage, you must be careful to avoid a parallel not unlike 'promoting gun safety or background checks will lead to the government taking all our guns away'. Religious freedom and independence is enshrined in the constitution, at least insofar as the United States is concerned, and it will be preserved on a broad range of clear subjects. Transgressions will be (and have been) challenged in court. Nobody is going to tell the Catholic religion that they must recognize a homosexual marriage in terms of their faith. But it does become shaky ground when businesses choose to impose upon the civil rights of others.

Maybe you see gay rights as something completely unrelated to women's rights, or black rights (I don't know), but plenty of other people in the civil rights movement do not. When they see a business choosing not to serve someone because they are gay it strikes them as rather akin to not serving someone because they are a woman or because they are black. I would not be surprised if, ultimately, a cake maker must make a cake for or sell a dress to a gay couple. The likely gray area here is that which pertains to cases of a stronger religious objection, such as a religious organization performing a marriage for a same-sex couple, or a doctor being able to decline performing an abortion. Some of this will need to be decided in the courts, but the fact that some decisions may offend religious sensibilities takes a back seat to the constitution.

Where that begins and ends in personal business is a matter of debate. If we had a religion which opposed interracial marriage and a member of that religion owned a business and wanted to carry that belief into their business, we'd probably now find ourselves on a subject where they may not have the 'right' to do so. But that religion absolutely would have the right to deny that marriage in the marriages it performs as its own entity, and would also have the right to maintain and speak out about that belief. They could also say 'any interracial couple will go to hell'. Today's is a new version of a debate we've seen before, and as was the case in times past, today the views of individuals involved changes from one person to the next—one person drawing clear parallels between civil rights concerns of the past and the circumstance of same-sex marriage today and another seeing them as uncomfortably familiar.

WeiWenDi wrote:No, you've read me correctly. And you're right that we disagree there.

Marriage as a concept has an anthropological and a theological component. So Christianity does recognise marriages - even non-Christian marriages - as valid insofar as they adhere to a Christian anthropology. So, for example, even though I was married to my atheist wife in a civil ceremony prior to my chrismation, the Orthodox Church recognises our marriage as valid and doesn't view either of us as living in fornication. (They would still prefer it if my wife converted and reaffirmed our vows within the Church, though. :P )

But, for example, if I was a Muslim or a Mormon with three wives, and I was looking to convert, the Orthodox Church would not recognise my second and third marriages, and would hold me to be living in bigamous adultery with these two women (but not with my first wife). I would have to obtain civil divorces from my two junior wives before converting.

I'm glad we understand one another's position here. Along the same vein, a given Christian faith at a given point in history would have viewed your same circumstance as not a 'marriage' at all. But that is their definition to make for themselves and their members, but not for members of the public or those of another branch of Christianity which would recognize your marriage.

So our difference is simply in that I don't believe 'marriage' belongs to your faith. I believe your faith's version of your marriage belongs to them, and that they have a right to recognize or reject 'marriage' within the definition they accept, but that their followers are where their jurisdiction begins and ends. And that your choice to accept that religion into your life, and to accept that definition of 'marriage' is yours to make and not made for you.

WeiWenDi wrote:You said procreation wasn't relevant to individual survival. I disagree completely - if an individual baby isn't conceived, gestated and born, to talk about its survival is kind of a moot point.

If anything this is a misunderstanding of my meaning—and even in retrospect I thought it would be clear enough. Of course I understand that a child must be created to exist. My point is that procreation is not essential to that child's (an entity which now exists) continued existence, and returning to the response you seem (?) to have disregarded, procreation on the basis of a subset of our population is not necessary for our species' continued survival. We're doing a perfectly fine job of populating this earth, and as we know (I assume), 'homosexuality' isn't spreading to threaten the population.

WeiWenDi wrote:To be perfectly blunt, step-parents do have a not-entirely-undeserved reputation for not treating their step-children as well as their natural children. (This is not an argument for curtailing the rights of step-parents, by the way - raw data by themselves do not constitute a full normative argument, though they can contribute to it!) Also, this article has some problems, but there are very real reasons to believe that children do need to be in contact with their natural parents, for reasons other than those associated with basic physical and emotional care. (Obviously, adopters love their children very much and take much better care of them, by most measurable standards, even than biological parents do. But there seems to be a spiritual lack which is driving, for example, the returnee phenomenon.)

What are those 'very real reasons to believe children do need to be in contact with their natural parents'? And to justify the use of 'need' here—which is demonstrably false. Plenty of absolutely fantastic children are raised after ties to their birth parents are lost. I feel as though you're mischaracterizing the 'Cinderella effect', something more akin to a single parent bringing a child into a new relationship and not alike a couple choosing together to adopt a new child.

The South Korea story is interesting, but through the numbers involved and a range of circumstances specific to the South Korean adoption program and reasons cited for South Korean parents adopting children away, it seems an argument specific to a subset of adoption rather than to the subject at whole (to say nothing for the fact that adoption is not the only means through which a couple can couple can have a child).

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:I was speaking of a 'forced marriage'—some marriage where, for whatever reason, the couple must stay together—in that paragraph, and I believe we agreed above that a couple in a forced marriage—as opposed to one of free will—is statistically less likely to find the same happiness (though not incapable of doing so). And I agree with your last sentence—but in context of the portion you replied to you seem to be agreeing with me (making the best of it).


Ah, okay. I think I must have been misreading you there, then. I agree with you here for the most part, actually.

But, interestingly enough, the literature I read in looking for relevant data on this question (here is a representative paper, with a pretty decent literature review) might be interesting for you to read! This paper seems to suggest that women, especially, are on the whole much happier (and happier in their relationships) in societies with traditional gender norms. But there are greater risks in terms of happiness - again, particularly for women - being involved in a cohabiting relationship in environments where it is not a sanctioned choice. The data in this particular paper also seem to show that women value social support networks outside their relationships more than men do, and are more likely to be affected by the moral judgements of their peers. They run multi-level MVRs on self-reported happiness statistics across a broad range of countries around the world, and the results are utterly fascinating.

That does sound interesting. I'll read it.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:In what ways are they unable (or otherwise less able) to love one another?

Ah, now that's not fair! I was the one doing the Socratic questioning, here, so I will simply say: you first. You furnish me with a good working definition of love first, and I will then attempt to furnish you with an answer to this question about it!

Otherwise, I get the feeling I would have to do so only by first making a whole bunch of stipulations you likely wouldn't agree to in the first place.

No, really. Can you answer the question?

If you want to use 'love', give your own clear definition first—because it should be your definition that qualifies your answer. That would be best, or use 'love' as a proxy for '[have a] healthy, affectionate, enriching, and mutually beneficial relationship'.

But I do want to see what it means to you. And that includes stipulations you've interjected into the subject. It's fine if we disagree. For example, a religious qualification may we be specific to belief in that religion (and thus not applicable to another couple unless they share the belief), nor would I likely see eye-to-eye on faith-based subject, but the main point is that I will in the least understand where you're coming from.

And I'll go first in answering.

I don't think there's any material distinction which makes a same-sex couple less able (or unable) to love one another. It doesn't mean there isn't one, but I have yet to see compelling argument for one, and I have yet to see any such difference demonstrated in the lives of same-sex couples I know.
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Re: Religion: Old Thread, New Poll!

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:26 pm

This debate is spiralling in several different directions at once, none of which is necessarily about religion generally, so perhaps it's best split off into the more relevant threads? I've replied to the above post in the following threads.

Gay and Lesbian Marriage
Religion & Politics
Secessionism
Baby Drop Box
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