Friday, May 25, 2012

Rom 1 reply, 7: A revealing comment at a popular bajan blog, that ties hostility to the Scriptures to the idea that "people do not have any right to tell others who they can marry or be in a relationship with . . . "

NB: Given recent hostile scrutiny,
the follow up post here documents
the underlying concern on marriage

A few days ago, at the popular Barbadian blog, Barbados Underground, a Mrs G posted the following remarks; which reveal an increasingly common attitude that we now need to address, whether on the streets, on verandahs, on campus, by the workplace water cooler, or on the Internet:
. . . the bottom line is people do not have any right to tell others who they can marry or be in a relationship with and then to back up their bigotry and hatred use the Bible as a way to enforce their feelings.

The Bible was written by man how many dongs ago. I have never in all my life heard that God himself wrote the Bible therefore we are controlled by whomever wrote the Bible.
It is funny how the Bible states that you should not take counsel from mediums etc however the Bible is full of prophets…..I personally feel many parts of the Bible are misconstrued
The first, most tellingly revealing problem, here, is that biblical morality is casually equated with bigotry, hatred and busybody-ness. 

Evidently, Mrs G does not understand just how serious it is to so casually accuse a great many people of bigotry and hate. And, it should be plain to a more fair minded onlooker, that there is a lot of turn-about projection at work here, that serves to justify the hostility to the Christian faith and its adherents that is here revealed.

In short, we can see the polarising civilisational divide at work, just as was intended by those who have been promoting the homosexualisation of marriage.

This sort of toxic talking point usually points to an underlying contempt for the Christian faith -- typically, with roots in scientism: roughly, the notion that "science" delimits "real" knowledge so that which cuts across evolutionary materialist beliefs or agendas connected to such is necessarily irrational. Such closed-minded contempt as a rule does not trouble to seriously inquire whether there may be warrant for the moral views in question, or regarding how rights may be grounded, or for the Gospel and the Christian faith. To such minds, it is enough that the views are "religion," and on this they can be dismissed without further consideration.  

{U/D, May 26: I gather Mrs G claims to be "Spiritualist" not directly atheist. Of course, such views are rather syncretist, and will appeal to the dominant trends of our time to push the neo-pagan agenda. So, the below on evolutionary materialism is still highly relevant, and the further below on the difference between genuine and counterfeit money is even more relevant in light of the warrant for the gospel presented below.}

We will turn to the issues on the Christian faith later, but first let us focus on the homosexualised marriage talking point; from a moral foundations of law perspective. 

Alan Keyes, in responding to former US First Lady Barbara Bush, remarks:
. . . isn’t love the foundation of marriage? Why should some loving couples enjoy legal recognition and privileges that are denied to others?
But the plausible conviction that loving homosexual couples “ought to have…the same sort of rights that everyone has” immediately runs afoul of the simple fact that homosexuals are not the only loving couples without the legal right to marry. Parents and their children don’t have it. Siblings don’t have it. Children not yet of legal age don’t have it; and so on. In principle, all such people are capable of forming loving, committed relationships. By the logic Mrs. Bush relies on, “they ought to have… the same sort of rights that everyone has.”
In short, once we see obvious exceptions to a suggested "rule" like that, something is fundamentally wrong with the rule. What is it? Keyes continues:
Why are parents and their children forbidden to marry one another? Cut to the chase and the answer is simple. The right to marry includes legal recognition (legitimization) of the married couple’s right to have sexual relations with one another. But it is wrong for parents to have sexual relations with their children. It’s wrong for siblings to have sexual relations with each other. It’s wrong for adults to have sexual relations with underage children. Obviously, unless Mrs. Bush means to argue that these restrictions are unjustified, a committed loving relationship is not enough to establish that people “ought to have” the right to marry.
He then digs in further, addressing the pivotal term, "ought":
Mrs. Bush’s use of the word “ought” deserves further attention. The difference between what people do and what people ought to do is a matter of moral judgment. The word “ought” implies the application of a moral standard, a rule or principle that distinguishes right from wrong. People ought to do what is right. They ought not to do what is wrong. When people do what is right, they have the right to act (i.e., have right on their side as they act.) But can the same be said of those who do what is wrong?
He then points to a key breakdown triggered by the modern confusion of liberty and license -- the abuse of freedom:
In everyday parlance these days, we use the term “right” as though it is synonymous with the freedom to act as we choose. But if the choice is wrong, it makes no sense to assert that the chooser has the right  to act on it  (i.e., has right on his side as he does so.) What someone can do (has the physical capacity or opportunity to do) differs from what they ought to do. This is in fact the rationale for all criminal laws. It’s what allows us to recognize that simply having the opportunity and power to take someone’s life or goods does not grant the right to do so, does not make it right.
In short, until the moral legitimacy of homosexual conduct is solidly grounded (and until the harmlessness of such a legislative -- or, these days, often, a judicial -- act is sufficiently shown), we have a perfect right to question the notion that our civilisation's states should take the step of legitimising homosexual relationships as marriages under the law. Which of course is a very big question indeed, and one on which all serious voices have a right to be heard. Including, those who look to the truly great religious teachers of mankind, as proved moral instructors.

So, why is it that Mrs G and others of like ilk are so busily and broadly imputing that those who, on moral grounds, object to homosexual behaviour and legitimisation of such relationships, are bigoted and hateful?

Precisely, because, they cannot ground the legitimacy of such behaviour  . . .
-- much of which is warning label dangerous, and all of which is objectively disordered and counter to the naturally evident creation-order complementarity of man and woman, and the requisites of sound child bearing and nurture (as well as being notoriously counter to the teachings of ALL major religions) -- 
. . . on sound reasoning. So, we are instead seeing a cheap tactic of appealing to the all too common prejudice against Bible-believing Christians, to promote an agenda that is itself questionable. That is irresponsible and itself a manifestation of a further immoral act: spite

Perhaps, with faint hints of what the Russians call: nekulturny

(Please, please, please, think again before deriding and branding those who are following the principles and concerns raised by some of the greatest teachers of our race, ever.)

Now, why do I point out that such accusers cannot ground the legitimacy of such behaviour?

Because of the problem of grounding OUGHT in IS. 

That is first, because, evolutionary materialism -- the underlying view that drives scientism -- traces all of reality to matter, energy, space and time interacting blindly based on natural regularities and chance circumstances and phenomena. There is therefore no IS in the foundation of such a view that can ground ought. 

For instance, we may see Will Hawthorne's apt summary of the unmet challenge:
Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can't infer an 'ought' from an 'is' [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces].  (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)
Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an 'ought'. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there's no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.
Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it's not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it's permissible to perform that action. If you'd like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan 'if atheism is true, all things are permitted'.
For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don't like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.
Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.
Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can't infer 'ought' from [[a material] 'is'. [[Emphases and paragraphing added.]
That is the reason why we may properly view such evolutionary materialism as just what Plato pointed out: amoral. 

Lacking objective grounds for OUGHT, such views end up relativising right and wrong, and further end up implying that might and manipulation make 'right.' 

So, we see the rise of ruthless factions that vie to wrench our moral sentiments and views to fit their agendas; morality becomes politics, propaganda and rhetoric. Which is exactly what we see above. 

(By contrast, Bible-believing Christians ground OUGHT in the IS of the evident reality of the inherently good Creator God, who has made us all equally in his image and has given us the gift of a mind of our own so that we can think, choose, and love; and has backed it up with a conscience that prompts us towards the right. Such a worldview foundational IS can indeed ground OUGHT, cf. here on.)

But what about the idea that My Genes Made Me Do It?

It has indeed been argued that genetic programing makes some people homosexual and others heterosexual, and many have been led to accept it, never mind the subsequent back-tracking proponents of genetic theories have had to make. A read-through of just the introductory summary of the just linked, will suffice to show that instead: genes are the foundation for our ability to act in human ways, and form habits (including sexual ones), but there is little reason to believe that genetic programming determines sexual orientations and habits. For, as minded creatures, we are not merely plants growing as the seed and the soil and sun determine. Our genes make us sexual -- male and female, but do not determine our sexual habits.

 That is why there is a sharp difference between the incidence, onset and patterns of homosexuality (and for that matter heterosexuality) in different cultures or areas of residence, and within the same culture across time. 

In the case of especially male homosexuality, we have had no less than three major cultural models and patterns --where, there is also essentially no homosexual behaviour in some cultures -- from men with boys, to men with men, to compulsory homosexuality for all men at certain stages of life connected to an animist worldview's teachings. As well, many are able to leave the homosexual lifestyle, beyond a certain point.That sort of diversity strongly points to a culturally influenced habit [which admittedly may be life dominating], not a genetically driven trait. (See the already linked book for details and many related points.)

In short, just as the great teachers have all taught us, we have sexual appetites that are the subject of choices, and due to the potential disruption of the foundations of stable society: marriage and family, our sexual conduct must be morally disciplined. 

And, the law therefore has a legitimate interest in such regulation, given the many ways in which sexual relationships, behaviours, and the consequences of such affect -- and can potentially disrupt -- the functioning of the community. Indeed, the most infamous cases in Biblical history led to two civil wars, and directly to the murder of a prophet; sobering and familiar lessons of history. In short, we see here the importance of carefully defining liberty and its proper bounds through just, well-respected law; thus of not allowing it to deteriorate into licence and anarchy, leading to chaos and ultimately tyranny in defence of order. (Where, 1 Samuel 8 is a classic historical record and warning from the mouth of a prophet.)

Let us therefore remind ourselves from that excellent Dictionary, Webster's 1828 Dictionary:

LIB'ERTY, n. [L. libertas, from liber, free.] 
1. Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty, when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty, when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty, when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions. 
2. Natural liberty, consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government. 
3. Civil liberty, is the liberty of men in a state of society, or natural liberty, so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. A restraint of natural liberty, not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty.The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others.In this sentence, the latter word liberty denotes natural liberty.
In short, sexual license -- just like any other form of abuse of freedom -- is not to be properly demanded in the name of "rights." 

And, those who raise just such concerns that we may be shading off from liberty to license, even by citing the Bible, are not properly to be dismissed as therefore bigoted or hateful. For, Moses, the Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles are plainly among the great teachers of mankind. Only the truly nekulturny would refuse to accept that.

Let's put that more directly: if you think such concerns are wrong, that should be shown, not simply dismissed with contempt-laced terms like:
The Bible was written by man how many dongs ago. I have never in all my life heard that God himself wrote the Bible therefore we are controlled by whomever wrote the Bible.
Now, too, at first level -- keystone teachings, the Bible, manifestly is full of very well-tested wisdom, that we would do well to listen to, ponder and heed. For highly relevant instance, here is how the apostle Paul, writing in 57 AD, summarises duties of neighbourliness and upright conduct from both Jesus and Moses, in the context of citizenship, support for the civil magistrate in defence of the civil peace of justice and paying reasonable taxes:
Rom 13:Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 
13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 
14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. [NIV '84]
Paul here gives a highly sound summary of the principles of morality, and indeed a moral vision, that undergirds law, law-making, the courts and law enforcement. These are sound words, not to be easily and carelessly brushed aside by the nekulturny just because they happen to occur in a religious text. Similarly, in the same epistle, Paul had earlier said regarding those who do not have the Mosaic law:
 Rom 2:14 . . . when Gentiles, who do not have the [Mosaic] law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. [NIV '84]
That is, he is saying that our hearts and minds are deeply stamped with the core principles of morality and justice, so that we are often able to see the right and sense where we go wrong, through an in-stamped edition of God's core law. The law of our nature as morally governed creatures, who sense a fundamental moral worth and inescapably infer that fairness is due to us. So also, by basic reciprocity, we have the same basic duty of fairness to those who are of like nature.

Justice among neighbours is a patent first point of departure. As the Anti-slavery movement so often argued: am I not a man and a brother?/ am I not a woman and a sister?

What is not so well known, is that these themes are taken, almost word for word, from Paul's epistle to Philemon, vv. 15 - 17 and v. 2, where he pleads for reconciliation and manumission to a heart now sufficiently softened by the Spirit, and to a mind now sufficiently opened by the gospel:

 That premise of justice joined to that of reformation through the softening of hearts and opening of minds also means that just laws, wherever found, are legitimate; indeed Rom 13 opens up with a ringing affirmation of the legitimacy of civil authorities as God's servants to do us good, and bearing the sword in defence of the civil peace of justice. 

And remember, Paul was here speaking in the direct context of the rule of Rome, under Nero, though at that time Nero had not yet gone demonically mad and was still under the tutelage of Burrus and Seneca. (Other scriptural teachings undergird the duty of interposition of lower or other magistrates if a senior ruler goes wrong, and justify reformation and if necessary after remonstrance and every reasonable appeal fails, secession or revolution under emerging just authorities. In case Mrs G does not realise this, it is these teachings that are a large part of the emergence of modern liberty and democracy, once the Bible she despises was put in the hands of the ordinary man. Indeed, in the gracious providence of God, one of our chief blessings of liberty, the peaceful general election, is a regular audit of government by the people in solemn assembly, with the right to collectively reform or replace failed government. A right paid for with much blood and sacrifice.)

If you want to know why Christian people are generally law abiding and support advancement of genuine civil liberty, look no farther.

Historically, when John Locke, in his famous second essay on Civil Government, Ch 2 sect 5, set out to ground rights and the limits of civil authority, here is the remark from "the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker" that he used, from that worthy's Ecclesiastical Polity, 1594+:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

So, the whole argument above is wrong-headed insofar as it pretends or assumed that Christians and the Christian scriptures are inherently hate-inspiring enemies of civil liberty.

Going further, Mrs G plainly despises the scriptures.

She tries to cast a contradiction between counsel not to seek the advice of mediums consulting familiar spirits, with the call to listen to legitimate, authenticated prophets and spokesmen of God. But, such is no more a contradiction than the warnings that are given from time to time that one should watch out for and avoid counterfeit money that is in circulation

Of course, to Mrs G's ilk, there are no genuine spokesmen for God [it being imagined that we could have the equivalent of only counterfeit money in circulation! but in fact, the very existence of the counterfeit testifies to the reality of the real thing and the well-founded confidence people have in it . . . ], so we need to address this with particular reference to the scriptures and the gospel. 

As I pointed out in the NCSTS systematic theology survey course here:
The foundational centrality of the gospel is underscored in Paul's AD 55 letter to the Corinthians, where we may see the primary source document, eyewitness-lifetime "official summary" of the testimony of the 500+ eyewitnesses to the central facts and truths of the gospel. This, as communicated to Paul by the Jerusalem circle of leaders by AD 35 - 38; three years after his conversion through his own personal encounter with the risen Christ and as recorded by him some twenty years later in the well known letter:

1 Cor 15:1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you . . .

3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures [--> cf. esp. the c. 700 BC Isa 52:23 - 53:12], 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 
6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 
8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God . . . 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. [ESV]

"[T]hat . . . that . . . that . . . . that . . ." With these drum-beat words Paul quoted and framed the five core historical facts of the "official testimony" of the very first Christians -- whom he acknowledges as being prior to him in the faith (by a few years):
  • Christ died for our sins
  • in accordance with the Scriptures,
  • he was buried,
  • he was raised on the third day,
  • he appeared
Let us pay close attention, too, to Paul's preface: " the gospel . . . preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word . . . " That is, it is by accepting the gospel with penitent and steadfast faith that its power (or, rather, the power of God through his promises) is released in our lives, effecting spiritual transformation; as millions across the ages and in our day have experienced and do testify.
In short, to hold her views Mrs G has had to first close her eyes, ears, heart and mind to the life-transforming reality of meeting God in the face of Jesus that has transformed millions over the past 2,000 years, including all around us in the Caribbean. That does not speak well, in itself. Similarly, she will have had to dismiss the force of the historical evidence of the sheer reality of a church that is based on a gospel that routinely produces these results, and is anchored in the eyewitness testimony of over 500 people to the resurrection of Jesus

Just taking in the core 20 or so of these witnesses, these can speak of how they ate two suppers with Jesus and saw him unjustly seized, kangaroo courted and brutally executed by the machinations of corrupt Gentile and Jewish elites. Sadly, nothing out of the ordinary there. Except, that they also used another ability that ordinary people of sound mind have: we can tell which of three events A, B, C was first, second and third. Where, supper no 1 was first, the kangaroo court came second, leading to his death attested by a spear-thrust to the heart to make sure. Then, three days after that judicial murder, he ate supper no 2 with them. That is, the miracle is not in what they experienced but in its timeline. So, the attempts to dismiss this as hallucinations etc. all break down in the teeth of the evidence before us.

It gets worse for the dismissive skeptic. 

For, that phrase "according to the scriptures" shows how, up to 700 years ahead of time, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was foretold in Isaiah 52 - 53, and in many other prophecies in the Old Testament, OT. So, the same unit goes on to note:
Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12 -- from its context of the reign of Hezekiah and the then recent attacks of the Assyrians, c. 700 BC -- gives us far more details:

Isa: 52:13Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

Isa 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation,
who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. [ESV]

The predictive prophecies of the rejection of and redemptive death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah and the theology of saving, healing, liberating atonement through our wounded redeemer and healer are plain. In the teeth of the hopes for a political and military deliverer that dominated the hopes of a colonised and oppressed nation in the First Century, we see here a suffering servant who is a wounded healer and atoning sacrifice, not only for Israel but for the whole world.
So, the attitude of Christian believers to the scriptures of the prophets of Yahweh, and to the messiah, Yeshua d'Nazaret, and to his anointed apostles and their writings is fully warranted by the manifest power of God: only God can not only accurately predict the passion and death then resurrection of Messiah, centuries in advance, but also then proceed to fulfill the prophecy. Here, then, is Peter, just before Nero unjustly put him to death, c. AD 65:
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 
 21 For no [genuine] prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [ESV]
Mrs G may mock as she pleases, but that mockery is not well grounded, nor does it reflect the premises of civility that are so vital to good order in the community.

Mrs G, and others of like ilk, please, please, please -- as my old headmaster at Harrison College was so wont to say -- think again. END
F/N: overnight updates and addition of an image. 

F/N 2, May 27: In following up, I ran across this as a "typical" rebuttal of the conjugal understanding of marriage by a homosexualisation advocate. The remarks are inadvertently deeply revealing on the radical relativism, turnabout accusation and "might/manipulation makes 'right' . . ." concerns above. Choice clips:
1. Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman. Well, that's the most often heard argument, one even codified in a recently passed U.S. federal law. Yet it is easily the weakest. Who says who marriage is to be defined by? The married? The marriable? Isn't that kind of like allowing a banker to decide who is going to own the money in stored in his vaults? It seems to me that if the straight community cannot show a compelling reason to deny the institution of marriage to gay people, it shouldn't be denied. And such simple, nebulous declarations are hardly a compelling reason. They're really more like an expression of prejudce than any kind of a real argument. The concept of not denying people their rights unless you can show a compelling reason to do so is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights . . . . 

4. Gay relationships are immoral and violate the sacred institution of marriage. Says who? The Bible? Somehow, I always thought that freedom of religion implied the right to freedom from religion as well. The Bible has absolutely no standing in American law (and none other than the father of the American democracy, Thomas Jefferson, very proudly took credit for that fact), and because it doesn't, no one has the right to impose rules anyone else simply because of something they percieve to be mandated by the Bible. Not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality; many sects of Buddhism, for example, celebrate gay relationships freely and would like to have the authority to make them legal marriages. In that sense, their religious freedom is being infringed. If one believes in religious freedom, the recognition that opposition to gay marriage is based on religious arguments is reason enough to discount this argument . . . [Scott Bidstrup, "Gay Marriage, The Arguments And The Motives," 1996, 1998, 2000. (Mr Bidstrup describes himself thusly: "a graduate of Brigham Young University, in Communications (BA, 1971). He is widely traveled and is a published author and has been a staunch human rights advocate for many years, especially in gay rights issues since coming out at the age 44 in the mid '90's. He is currently retired and living in exile in Costa Rica.")]
The "sez who . . . " rebuttals point directly to the inherent contradictions of radically relativist, nihilistic, evolutionary materialist, might makes right factionalism highlighted in the clip from Hawthorne above. Far from being a reform within well-founded moral principles, this argument seeks to overthrow such, substituting intimidatory manipulation of moral sensibilities; implying that in the end the implicit assumption is just what Plato warned against in The Laws, Bk X:
[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC say that] the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . 
[[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .

For, the underlying appeal we see from Mr Scott Bidstrup is to just what such views cannot ground, save on the monstrous notion that might/manipulation makes 'right'; namely, that we OUGHT to be fair and acknowledge the 'rights' of homosexuals to form same sex unions legally equated to marriage as it has been historically understood all around the world since time immemorial, demanding that a burden of proof be shifted to those who hold that marriage is founded in the naturally obvious creation-order complementarity of man and woman, the implications of what is required for sound child bearing and nurture, and for stability of society. 

(Somehow it never seems to be acknowledged that those who propose radical social innovations, out of the mere decent respect for humanity, need to be the ones to make a carefully worked out, reasonable case from worldview foundations up. Which is exactly what the US Founders did in their declaration of independence, of 1776.) 

In response, I find it helpful to clip an earlier post:
what is at stake today is the destruction or survival of marriage, the foundational institution of stable families and communities alike. {U/D, May 12:} As Girgit, George and Anderson observe in the just linked Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy paper:
 [T]he current debate is precisely over whether it is possible for the kind of union that has marriage’s essential fea‐tures to exist between two people of the same sex. Revisionists do not propose leaving intact the historic definition of marriage and simply expanding the pool of people eligible to marry. Their goal is to abolish the conjugal conception of marriage in our law 10 and replace it with the revisionist [--> i.e. homosexualised] conception . . .

F/N 10: Throughout history, no society’s laws have explicitly forbidden gay mar‐riage. They have not explicitly forbidden it because, until recently, it has not been thought possible . . . [T]raditional marriage laws  were not devised to oppress those with same‐sex attractions. The comparison [to racist anti-miscegenation laws that forbade inter-racial marriages]  is offensive, and puzzling to many—not least to the nearly two‐thirds of black vot‐ers who voted to uphold conjugal marriage under California Proposition Eight. See Cara Mia DiMassa & Jessica Garrison, Why Gays, Blacks are Divided on Prop. 8, L.A. TIMES, Nov. 8, 2008, at A1.
 [Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, & Ryan T. Anderson, "What is Marriage?" Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol 34, No. 1, p. 250 of 245 - 287.]
Already, the force of the homosexualist civilisational divide is at work, driving people on opposite sides of the issue farther and farther apart, and creating the perception that those who stand up in defence of marriage as it has historically been established are little better than hateful, racist bigots.
We need to pause, stop the radicals in their tracks -- already a bad sign, and ask them to answer to our concerns with a modicum of respect and good broughtupcy; starting from the grounding of OUGHT, and of rights. If they refuse to do so, on the whole, that is a strong sign that we are dealing with a destructive agenda that is bent on power-games to push a divide and dominate agenda, not genuine reformation. For sure, the time has long since passed where we should be intimidated by shouts of "you are a theocratic, hateful, Bible-thumping bigot," especially when these come from the mouths of angry, patently hostile radicals.