On Redefining Reality: A Dialogue

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” —Oscar Wilde

As I walked down the street, I noticed in the window of a shop a decal advertising the so-called “Human Rights Campaign,” the organization agitating for a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions. I was a little shocked somebody would be proud of that association, for I had heard the news that the founder of the Human Rights Campaign (and a major financial backer of President Obama), Terry Bean, was recently arrested in Oregon for sexually abusing a 15 year-old boy. Maybe that story was not broadcast as widely as it should have been—I can only guess why; if the president of the NRA had shot someone, certainly that would make the news.

Regardless, it also struck me how utterly debased the notion of human rights had become if an entire genus of moral claims could be reduced to a grotesque assertion made on behalf of one-percent of the population. Yet, I also saw that it is the epitome of the contemporary zeitgeist in which a “right” is nothing other than a sentimental imperative, as Alasdair MacIntyre has put it: on the one hand, it is nothing other than a bold and impulsive desire; yet, this is compounded with the tyrannical demand that others submit to your insistence that that desire be satisfied. This meretricious notion of rights debases them by placing individual desire ahead of objective value, a move which ineluctably reduces to nonsense any and all claims to have rights. I thought I might make a test to determine just how dedicated the shop owner really was to this notion of human rights: did he in fact agree that subjective desire implied the sort of right he seemed to claim for himself? In other words, would he allow me to redefine reality to conform to my own desires?

The store was a tidy gift shop full of knick-knacks of no intrinsic value, but it was presided over by a tall, thin man with a penciled beard running the ridge of his jaw line and an imperious aquiline nose. I quickly found a small plaster dog, and presented it to the register for purchase by commenting approvingly, “This looks just like my son!”

Not given to suffering fools—or customers deemed unworthy—gladly, the proprietor grasped the dog with his spidery fingers and superciliously replied, “Your son? Really?”

“Well, I consider him my son. I am planning on being able to claim a child tax credit for him next year—or soon at least. The government has no right to tell me who my child is. After all, I love him like a son! That’s all that matters.”

Not knowing what to make of me, the owner quickly rang up the item without comment, and announced, “That will be $20.”

I pulled out a $10, and giving it to him, reached for the bag. “I am sorry, sir,” he said. “That’s a $10 bill.”

With this, of course, he unintentionally got to the heart of the issue. I protested, “That’s okay—I see this as being worth $20. What I mean is that, to me, that is the same as a $20 bill is to you.” Seeing him hesitate, I insisted, “Please don’t impose your values on me: I have the right to judge the value of things in relation to my money, and you judge it in relation to yours. I consider this to be $20, though you may call it what you will.”

“But you cannot just change the worth of a $10 bill! These prices are meant to be for everyone—changing them according to your whim ruins the whole system.”

“As I said, I am not changing the price. I consider the money I am handing you to be worth $20. You are getting exactly what you ask for.”

Slowly, as if here were explaining this to a child, he retorted, “Sir, you cannot redefine reality. It is an obvious fact that a $10 note is not the same as a $20 note—that would be a contradiction in terms! Simply calling a $10 a $20 does not make it so. Regardless of what you call them, they are not the same. You cannot simply go around changing the value of money. It is a fact that $10 is worth $10, and $20 is worth $20.”

“How can you be so unsophisticated?” I replied. “Isn’t the value of money just a convention anyway? I mean, there is no objective foundation for how much one piece of paper is worth against another—they are all just pieces of paper. If it is all just a convention, I should not be bound by your arbitrary traditions.”

“Price is a number, is not a ‘convention,’ sir. It is what the thing is really worth. $20 is just what $20 is, period. You can’t change that. So you do have to pay what I say.”

“So you think these prices indicate a value independent of what people want to pay?”

“Of course! The value of money is not arbitrary! If that were the case, you could give me a penny in place of $100—if you did that, you would debase even the most valuable things. Why, money would have no meaning at all if we had to redefine it anytime someone wanted to! Sir, get real: you can’t have everything you want unless you can afford it.”

Next Line of Inquiry: “Consumer Equality”
I was glad to see him admit that to redefine reality according to ephemeral opinion would deprive things of meaning and significance. Indeed, the notion of rights itself would be nullified if the very first right entails the ability to redefine reality. Nevertheless, I also sensed that he was not going to pick up on the irony of his own position, so I moved to a second line of inquiry. If I could not simply redefine reality to fit my desires, I could nevertheless insist on being treated “equally.” “But look. People are gifted with different financial wherewithal. We are just different that way, it is not something most of us can control, and so it is unfair to treat us differently based on that. Don’t you believe in consumer equality—all consumers should be treated the same, so everyone should be able to buy whatever they want, they should be able to get whatever they’d truly love to buy.”

“Of course you should be able to buy what you want,” he replied with some exasperation. “However, you should have the money to be able to afford it.”

“Wait—I can buy it as long as I meet certain conditions? That is the most blatant form of bigotry I can imagine,” I pressed. “You will deny me what I want simply because my paper has the wrong face on it? I can’t help what sort of money I have…. It should not matter whose face is on my money, or how much of it I have, because we should all be treated as equal and be given the right to buy what we want.”

“I am not saying you cannot buy it, only that you must be able to afford it!”

“Why are you treating me as a second class citizen? You are denying my freedom to have this—simply because you oppose consumer equality. You should not be allowed to prohibit me from owning this.”

“I am not prohibiting anything. But it is a simple fact that you cannot buy something if you do not have the money to buy it. I would like to help you, but I cannot simply change the price of things or give things away. Products have value, and we charge according to that value. To ignore that value—as if all products cost the same—would destroy the economy. There really is a difference in the value of things—you can’t just cover that up by invoking ‘equality.’ If all products were of equal value, why, the entire system would collapse—there would be no way to distinguish truly valuable things from cheap imitations.” He then repeated, condescendingly, “Prices are how we distinguish the real value of things in this world.”

He clearly saw the larger implications of my equality gambit, so I tried to redirect his attention to the personal nature of our transaction. “I do not mean to involve the whole economy here. This is simply between you and me—a personal trade contracted just between the two of us. No one else has to be involved. It is not like taking my $10 will bring down the whole nation. In fact, I cannot see how this would hurt anybody else.”

“Well, if I let you do it, then I should let everyone pay me what they want. I might even have to take foreign money not worth anything at all! It would destroy my business. But not only me, because if people think they can change the prices of things, then the very meaning of money as an instrument of trade is undermined. It would destroy our trust in the system, since we would have no way of knowing what anything it worth at all. This is not simply about you and me, since trade is a social phenomenon. Your idea of equality demands that I ignore the very idea of value in society; but this would destroy all commerce, since commerce is based on distinction of value. By your lights, equality means that nothing can ever be more valuable than anything else, since everything must be the same.”

I thought he was missing that I intended this only for myself, so I repeated, “But this is just between you and me.”

“No, sir. There are all sorts of rules about supply and demand that determine what I must charge. If I revalue something, then that will affect everyone I buy from and everyone I owe to, in a chain reaction. This act would, as I said, erode the entire system of social relations.”

“It’s not like I am stealing, I am paying for it. Plus, I have a right to own this—I have a right to happiness, and you cannot stand in the way of that right.”

“Yes, you have a right to happiness, but that does not include a right to own this without paying for it. There is no right to have things without earning them. If you want to have this, you have to follow the rules. If not, I cannot do business with you.”

“But I do not have the money, and I can’t see why that should matter. If you respected my freedom and equality, you would let me have it.”

At this point, the owner simply proclaimed, “Oh, someone should let you have it!” Gaining composure, he continued, “Equality does not mean that all things cost the same, or that you can define prices for yourself. Equality means that like things are treated similarly; but to say equality means I have to treat completely different things in the same way is insane!”

“Well, even if you don’t like it, you better be ready, because most people will support my idea of consumer equality—”

“It’s idiotic—everyone who understands the fact that money must represent some standard of value will reject it.”

“Ah, but that’s the beauty. I don’t have to convince everyone, just one judge who will decree that I am within my rights. That should not be too hard, given that most judges have already shrouded themselves in the veil of ignorance about the true nature of rights. They will let me get whatever I want.”

I left the shop with a small smirk but without my purchase. I was, nevertheless, satisfied, for if I succeeded in redefining values, my success would have been at the cost of civilization itself. It is edifying to know that even those who aim to redefine reality to fit their desire recognize that such a thing is preposterous even with respect to something as trivial as price; one hopes they would see how utterly cynical it is when applied to marriage. It is obvious that even the prices of things cannot be arbitrarily redefined, and that equality does not imply the obliteration of distinction among consumers.

It ought to be even more obvious that it is self-destructive vanity to think we can change the meaning of marriage, the foundation of all human society, and it is irrational folly to allow an abstraction like “equality” delude us into thinking that incommensurable realities must somehow be taken to be the same. The claim to “marriage equality,” therefore, is predicated on a failure to understand either the true meaning of marriage, or the objective nature of equality, or both; and it is critical that we realize those objective truths cannot be capriciously redefined lest they lose all meaning whatsoever.

James Jacobs

By

James Jacobs is Professor of Philosophy and Assistant Academic Dean at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA. His major area of research is Thomistic natural law theory, and more generally the need for a philosophical realism as a response to modern nominalism and skepticism. Professor Jacobs earned his doctorate in philosophy from Fordham University.

  • Barbara

    Beautifully written!

  • Wish I had thought of this argument…but I will be using it going forward!!

  • JP

    I don’t think today’s Progressives wish to create or even redefine marriage, per se. As I have posted previously, it wasn’t like the Church created the institution of Marriage. During the times of Christ, Jews,the Romans, Greeks, Ethiopians, Celtics, Gauls, and other tribes or societies had some form of marriage. What Christ introduced was something totally radical. What Christ started became the Christian Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

    What is under assault is the Western institution of Marriage (which in some form continues in non-Catholic religions). What will replace it is anyone’s guess. But the assault is obvious; first it was no-fault divorce, followed by pre-marital sex, birth control, adultery, divorce, cohabitation, hooking up, abortion, homosexuality, and now even polygamy and incest are staking their claims.

    We are actually reverting to pre-Christian culture of the Roman empire. All that is missing is infanticide and matricide.

    • Rev Mr Flapatap

      Maybe matricide. We have been legally killing our children for over 40 years now.

    • fredx2

      The point is that every progressive adjustment to marriage has resulted in untold human suffering, all in the name of reducing human suffering. So why should we approve yet another progressive adjustment to marriage?

  • Vinny

    “This meretricious notion of rights debases them by placing individual desire ahead of objective value.” Individual desire ahead of objective value is a definition of sin.

  • St JD George

    Very clever and bold of you James, my compliments on the lesson. I’m doubtful that the message was received.

  • Michael Dowd

    I don’t think same-sex marriage is the primary issue; rather It is traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

    From a historical societal point of view marriage creates a binding legal arrangement to help assure that the husband and wife will be responsible for their offspring and each other. Contraception, no fault divorce has undermined this concept, female education and employment have largely undercut the economic importance of marriage in our culture with devastating results particularly among the working class. Accordingly, strong government sanctions need to be put in place to help restrain irresponsible sexual behavior where undesired children become a burden on society and women suffer disproportionately.

    The Catholic Church needs to do it’s part to educate young people on the idea that marriage is a sacrament and the most important vocation they will ever have. And further that it is life-long commitment requiring constant investment of time and love to make it work. Hopefully, the coming Synod on the Family will help bring needed attention to what is the most important cultural and religious issue of our times: the future of Marriage.

  • St JD George

    I was very tempted to write a long reply but then stumbled on this earlier which fits perfectly and resonates loudly. SSM is just yet another distraction on a trail with many fallen bodies, the real battle is something much more epic. You know what the ultimate mission is, why is it so hard to acknowledge it.
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/30/whats-next-for-the-same-sex-marriage-advocates/

    • Sam Weatherford

      Bravo St JD George! Shapiro’s piece is elegant, as is this one!

      • TedForti

        Excellent article. I’ve added the website to my list to follow, thanks for the heads up Sam. Hope all is well with you. God bless.

        • Sam Weatherford

          Thanx Ted! I’m well and hope you are. I have been trying to decrease my time on the blogs during Lent. Keep fighting the good fight in faith and I pray you have a blessed and joyous Easter Triduum.

          • guest

            How do we respond to the due process clause being used to promote homosexual “marriage” in the courts?

            • Guest

              Indeed friend! how do we? I practice medicine and I fear the day is fast approaching when my refusal to refer for abortion or prescribe birth control, or speaking the truth with regard to wanton sexual promiscuity and it’s consequence’s will one day find me in the cross hairs of “demonetization for marginalization”, thereby denying me the ability to practice medicine.

              Forcing me from my vocation which I love for having the courage of my convictions in refusing to violate my conscience which I have spent years forming based on personal experience and the teaching of Holy Mother Church.

              We must go forward in protecting religious freedom while ensuring wanton discrimination is avoided. I thought the courts were the place we would seek redress but I fear the smoke of Satan (and PC politics) has entered those halls as well as the Church.

              “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness snares of the devil…”

              • Lutesuite

                I practice medicine and I fear the day is fast approaching when my refusal to refer for abortion or prescribe birth control, or speaking the truth with regard to wanton sexual promiscuity and it’s consequence’s will one day find me in the cross hairs of “demonetization for marginalization”.

                As a physician myself, it concerns me that you seem to believe that your religious beliefs should determine the care your patients receive. You should not be required to provide services that violate your conscience, of course. But to refuse to even refer your patients to another practitioner violates the ethical principle of putting the welfare of your patients above your personal beliefs.

                • GG

                  What about the welfare of the child to be killed?

                  • Lutesuite

                    If you believe abortion involves the killing of a “child” then don’t have one or perform one. That does not give you the right to deny an abortion to those who do not share your beliefs. And it certainly should not be permissable for a doctor to impede access to a safe, effective and ethical treatment because it offends his religious beliefs. If he was a Jehovah’s Witness, should he be allowed to make it more difficult for his patients to have blood transfusions?

                    • Sam Weatherford

                      NC House Bill 465

                      “No physician, nurse, or any other health care provider who shall state an objection to abortion on moral, ethical, or religious grounds, grounds shall be required to perform or participate in medical procedures which result in an abortion;

                      The refusal of a physician, nurse, or health care provider to perform or participate in these medical procedures shall not be a basis for damages for the refusal, or for any disciplinary or any other recriminatory action against the physician, nurse, or health care provider;

                      No abortion shall be performed upon a woman in this State without her voluntary and informed consent. Except in the case of a medical emergency, consent to an abortion is voluntary and informed only if all of the following conditions are satisfied: At least 24 hours 72 hours prior to the abortion, a physician or qualified professional has orally informed the woman, by telephone or in person, of all of the following …That medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care. … That the father is liable to assist in the support of the child, even if the father has offered to pay for the abortion. That the woman has other alternatives to abortion, including keeping the baby or placing the baby for adoption.”

                    • Lutesuite

                      NC House Bill 465….

                      I don’t see how this pertains to what I wrote.

                • Sam Weatherford

                  Refusal was the wrong choice of words. Thank you for pointing that out.

                  • Lutesuite

                    …nowhere did I imply that I would not refer them.

                    My response was to “Guest”, an MD who wrote of his “refusal to refer for abortion.” Sorry for the confusion.

            • Sam Weatherford

              Indeed friend! how do we? I practice medicine and I fear the day is fast approaching when my refusal to refer for abortion or prescribe birth control, or speaking the truth with regard to wanton sexual promiscuity and it’s consequence’s will one day find me in the cross hairs of “demonization for marginalization”, thereby denying me the ability to practice medicine.

              Forcing me from my vocation which I love for having the courage of my convictions in refusing to violate my conscience which I have spent years forming based on personal experience and the teaching of Holy Mother Church.

              We must go forward in protecting religious freedom while ensuring wanton discrimination is avoided. I thought the courts were the place we would seek redress but I fear the smoke of Satan (and PC politics) has entered those halls as well as the Church.

              “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness snares of the devil…”

              • Guest

                Sam – it is a legal question… it is a battle being fought now at the Supreme Court – my question is if we have a credible Catholic LEGAL argument against applying due process to homosexual “marriage”

                • Sam Weatherford

                  I don’t disagree with you friend. The sequelae of the arguments decision will be far reaching no doubt. I simply had thought this had been settled with the federal RFRA. The question it seems is what constitutes ones right to exercise their religious freedom versus one’s feelings of; versus, actual discrimination in the course of “due process”.

                  • guest

                    Actually no, it is not a question of religious freedom, a 1st Amendment right, but rather a question of whether or not the state has shown “due process” (per the 5th and 14th Amendments) in refusing to allow “marriage” licenses for homosexuals. The question is whether the state has taken reasonable action in denying the licenses.

                    It seems the “feel good” argument may be enough for the LGBTQs to win, claiming the state has otherwise taken an arbitrary denial of life or liberty in denying the license. That denial should be on the basis that there is no societal benefit to homosexual “marriage” and it in fact promotes unhealthy action – physically, mentally, etc. One might also claim that if this is allowed then where does the “feel good” argument stop.

                    As a medical man – Is there data to support the argument that homosexual marriage does not promote societal values (now that funding for such research has been cut since the APA removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in the 1970s)?

                    • Sam Weatherford

                      Indeed! your point is well taken; however, I am certainly no constitutional lawyer but given the scope of the argument’s for and against I think it’s clear that the SCOTUS is set to legally redefine marriage thereby forcing all states to recognize gay union’s. As a result it will become an issue of religious freedom.

                      With regard to the APA and changes to the DSM, they acquiesced as a result of political pressure and not quantifiable peer reviewed data (we can go there but I don’t have time at the moment).

                      For me personally It is by the Church that I have established my value’s and not the current society’s law’s I’m afraid. I will render unto Caesar’s what is Caesars but the law’s of man differ from the law’s of God. Take the law as it apply’s to abortion for example. The teaching’s of the Magisterium of the Church as well as Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are clear with regard to the definition of marriage, among many other things.

                  • TedForti

                    The Constitution, “ordained and established” by “We the people” should continue to guide the affairs and deliberations of the Republic and its citizens, unfortunately activist judges and a monarchical presidency are eroding its intent and purpose. Granted a document that is nearly 230 years old has to address complex and thorny issues its creators could never have imagined.

                    The world has changed dramatically, the Christian values, traditions and moral compass that united and underpinned the nation have been weakened to the point of almost becoming irrelevant. What constitutes a right has broadened dramatically, but I believe the Constitution still carries within it the framework upon which a legal defense for the free and unfettered exercise of religion can be made.

                    What do we mean when we say we have a right to something? What are the essential and most fundamental rights? Can rights guarantee complete equality? Can the Constitution be said to establish a hierarchy of rights? Those enumerated in the Constitution must take primacy and have the strongest claim in judicial deliberations when the rights of one party clash with the rights, real or imagined, of another.

                    • Sam Weatherford

                      Well said Ted and I concur with you 100%! Thanx for the added insight and backup.

  • BillinJax

    Your insistent “demands” are the heart of this issue. The social justice system the left wants to impose on us is the right for any “couple” to go into a kosher deli and be served a BBQ pork sandwich and a glass of wine immediately without having to waiting in line.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    G.K. Chesterton would have enjoyed this. Even your sparring has that Chestertonian gentleness and good humor.

  • LarryCicero

    :>) !

  • Charles Putter

    This satire on “rights” is well worthy of mature reflection.

  • Siwash

    JJ: I think a really fine article could be made simply by jotting out short biographies of the leaders of the contemporary homosexual activism.

    There’s quite a bit of reprehensible behavior there!

    Also, I’ve always felt peeved at the symbol of the HRC. It is the old Den Leader symbol from Cub Scouts. (I know, I was merely an Assistant Den Leader back in the day; had just one gold bar on the blue square).

  • Do you hear the goosestepping of jackboots and the breaking of glass?

    The echoes of the past are in the new fascism; but with little homages to the past to let you know its identity.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/28/anti-israel-sentiments-force-virginia-bar-cancel-t/

    • GG

      Yes, and it is based in the dictatorship of relativism. The Left can dress up their ideology anyway that want, but anyone with a lick of commonsense sees what rubbish it really is.

      • And it just got louder..

        Courtesy of “Catholic” Dan Malloy, during Holy Week.

        Time to find the caves to have Mass in again.

        • GG

          Catholic? Ha. Gay desires have become a type of god to the deluded masses. When will the anti-Christ arrive?

        • Objectivetruth

          Saw Malloy’s interview today over the whole Indiana dust up. He must have used the word “homophobe” a half dozen times during his childish rant.

          Time to accept with soberness and joy white martyrdom over the “gay” issue folks. I can’t believe how far the country has fallen in to a state of mortal sin. Satan, the father lies, has been very busy.

    • Mickey’O

      The last time the US had a major religious pogrom was during the mid-19th century (Indian Wars and purge of the Mormons). The solution, in both cases, was forced exile to a semi self-governing reservation (Utah, for the Mormons), away from “civilization.” Do you think the US/LGBT would allow for Catholics to have a self-governing reservation?

      • Given the hard left’s penchant for using dystopic fiction as a social blueprint, I’d say no. The ideal would be the feral exclusion of men in Pamela Sargent’s “The Shore of Women”.

      • Lutesuite

        Do you think the US/LGBT would allow for Catholics to have a self-governing reservation?

        Classic case of projection. While you spin these absurd fantasies and conspiracy theories, some of your fellow Christians are openly calling for gays to be interned in prison camps:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/north-carolina-pastor-gay-rant-starvation_n_1533463.html

        • Mickey’O

          This misguided soul is a Baptist, which is a Protestant denomination. Protestants believe in Sola Scriptura, and this guy’s reading is, misguided. Absurd fantasies and conspiracies? The official position of the US Government and the State of Missouri was to attack and kill the Plains Indians and Mormons, respectively. That is a stone cold fact. I learn history, and I know history tends to repeat. Groups that are considered bizarre or beyond the pale are destroyed or run off. Today, Christians in general and Catholics in particular are considered bizarre and beyond the pale. Confess Lutesuite, do you consider Christians bizarre?

          • Lutesuite

            This misguided soul is a Baptist, which is a Protestant denomination. Protestants believe in Sola Scriptura, and this guy’s reading is, misguided.

            That’s your opinion. Many Protestants consider Catholics to be misguided.

            Confess Lutesuite, do you consider Christians bizarre?

            I consider many of their beliefs bizarre, yes.

            Most people consider the beliefs of cults like Scientology and Raelism to be bizarre and beyond the pale. I suspect you do, yourself. But I don’t see Scientologists and Raelians being rounded up and sent to prison camps.

  • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

    If buyer and seller had both agreed to a different price, the transaction would have been consensual and non-abusive. What was missing from the dialog was consensus, which is why the analogy doesn’t work as intended. In fact it works the opposite from the way it was intended. Mr. Jacobs demanding someone else’s goods at a 50% discount equates to demanding that gays NOT marry, as it insists that Mr. Jacobs gets to make both decisions for another person. Highlighting the seller’s freedom to set a price for his own products simply underscores his freedom to enter into marital transactions as a free agent.

    • GG

      If they both agreed that $10 is $20 they would both be liars and deceivers. The point is truth is objective and not relativistic.

      Consensus is only authentic when based in truth. Consensus based in fiction is just absurd.

      The demand for a 50% discount is equal to “gays” demanding to “marry” in that both instances are a fraud and based in a deception not truth.

      • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

        “The demand for a 50% discount is equal to “gays” demanding to “marry” in that both instances are a fraud and based in a deception not truth.”
        The analogy is still false. The issue was not that $10 = $20 but that Mr. Jacobs had a right to request the product more cheaply and the storekeeper had the right to refuse him. They could have worked out a deal e.g., settling on a price of $15, or not. The storekeeper got to set the price. Mr. Jacobs got to decide whether or not he would pay it. Similarly, people now have the right to request to marry a person of either sex and that person has the right to turn them down. Nobody is being forced to sell products at half-price, to buy products at full price, or to indulge in or abstain from either SSM or traditional marriage.

        • GG

          The buyer demands that the seller accept $10 as $20. That is the fact. The buyer is not asking for a reduced price. The buyer is demanding the seller deny reality and accept his delusion as real. That is the fact.

          • LarryCicero

            Does an orphan child have the right to deny the two delusionally married wannabe “parents” their “right” to become a “family”?

            • GG

              The poor orphan has rights. To place a child in such a situation is cruel and unjust.

              • LarryCicero

                The gay “parents” demand a counterfeit family. The minor child does not give consent. It is worse than accepting a $10 for a $20. It pretends evil is good.

          • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

            The buyer doesn’t get to determine the price of the product, just as he doesn’t get to determine who anyone else marries.

            • GG

              The buyer was not determining the price of the product. He was claiming $10 is $20. Just as “gays” claim two men are married. It is delusional.

              • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                Can you claim a gay person is straight? Is that delusional too? Can you prevent a person marrying someone of their choice?

                • GG

                  Can a homosexual person stop having this desire and desire the opposite sex? Sure, depending on the person and the circumstance it is possible. Why is that in question? Is there a blood test or some other test that claims homosexual desire is an organic pathology that is unalterable?

                  Can you prevent a person from marrying someone of their choice? That depends on multiple variables. If a man wants to “marry” his son, then yes that ought to be prevented.

            • LarryCicero

              You need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

              • GG

                Exactly.

    • Marriage is not a private transaction. Who I choose to sell a cake to should be.

      • ray

        I think you need a few more “-ist” words in your post. Otherwise you’re just left with typical nonsense.

    • Marriage is not a private transaction. It conveys demands to the public.
      It is interesting how the diabolical-and its temporal agents in the political left (by which I mean (the statist, collectivist and secularist/atheist/misotheist) peddles intellectual, spiritual and economic servitude and tyranny as freedom.

    • Mickey’O

      Actually, it does work as intended. “What was missing from the dialog was consensus…” Which is exactly what is happening in the public square right now. The LGBT stormtroopers are on the march, rolling up victory after victory. Why should they accommodate the religious now? Especially since us religious have been as quiet as a church mouse, and not standing up for our rights. Keeping our mouths shut and hiding in the shadows implies we know the LGBT crowd is right. For further reading, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_war_theory

      • ray

        You are so oppressed.

  • zerk

    There is universal agreement about what “10” and “20” mean. There is close to universal agreement about what “dog” and “human” and “child” mean, so, while there are people who would support the idea of extending a “dependent support” tax credit to a pet, I think few would support the idea of redefining “child” or “son” to include a dog.

    It’s clear now that there is a majority that supports the redefinition of “marriage” to include same-sex couples. Since, to them. “marriage” is a social construct, not a biological reality (“child”) or a mathematical definition (10 vs. 20), changing the definition is no problem and is a very good thing.

    As for marriage being the foundation of society, that’s true. What is a lot less clear to me is the Catholic definition being the foundation (one man, one woman, for life). A whole lot of civilizations have either had divorce and remarriage or polygamy. When the Catholic Church has power, we like to force out definition on people. When we lose power, we don’t like it when people impose their definition on us.

    • GG

      Ideas have consequences. So, if the few, or many, refuse to see what marriage authentically is then we have a serious problem. Marriage does not change simply because people are deluded. What we get is pathology that will deform families in ways we cannot even imagine yet.

      It is very much like calling a child a dog. You begin to perceive the child as an animal and that changes the way you behave and reason.

      The Catholic Church does not force definitions on anyone. It is the gays and other deluded persons who force definitions on society. Totally nuts.

      • Lutesuite

        So, if the few, or many, refuse to see what marriage authentically is then we have a serious problem.

        Yes. Thankfully, that is now less of a problem as more people accept marriage equality. It would be concerning if most people were still under the misapprehension that marriage was something created by a god, or an expression of “natural law”, or was only for the purpose of procreation.

        • GG

          Said the man who wants to marry his son or dog. Got it. Thanks for making my point.

          • Lutesuite

            Said the man who wants to marry his son or dog.

            Ah, so you’re now resorting to outright lies. A clear admission of defeat.

    • “A whole lot of civilizations have either had divorce and remarriage or polygamy. ”

      So what. The same can be said of human sacrifice.

      • Lutesuite

        A whole lot of civilizations have either had divorce and remarriage or polygamy. ”

        So what. The same can be said of human sacrifice.

        Yes. Generally as a religious practice. So I guess the RFRA should allow people to practice it, right?

        • Is that what you are planning next..and most human sacrifice came at the hands of the state..

          • ray

            DE-173: you don’t really know your history, do you?

    • bwc

      You haven’t been listening to all the references to “pet parents”.

    • John Flaherty

      “…changing the definition is no problem and is a very good thing.”

      I think that’s more or less what the Nazi Congress did with the Nuremberg laws in the 30’s and what the Soviet did in the old Russia.
      You can’t redefine something without inherently redefining the objective reality that the definition addresses. If there’s no reason why two men can’t marry, there’s no particular rationale forbidding polygamy or any number of other distortions of marriage.

    • Mike W

      Firstly there is no majority; we are looking at judges overriding the will of the people. Secondly, you miss the point that we are looking at redefining marriage to have only the single criterion of “love” and using the full force of the law to impose that incorrect and illogical definition onto people. This is precisely the sort of thing totalitarian governments do. Thirdly, it is not a Catholic definition of marriage. Religions from animist to Sikh, to Hindu to Buddhist to Muslim to Jewish etc. etc. all have the same view that marriage is in fact to do with sex and sexual fidelity. You simply cannot reasonably apply that basic principle to two people of the same sex who by definition cannot engage in actual sex. It is called sex because there are two sexes. This is the whole point of society wanting to promote sexual fidelity in the first place.

    • Mickey’O

      “There is universal agreement about what “10” and “20” mean. ” I beg to differ. Try that argument amongst the patients in the psychiatric ward of a hospital.

  • St JD George

    I saw this on Evangeli and thought it worth sharing, and relevant. Father Jean Gottigny (Brussels) was reflecting on Judas as a starting point, but … I found inspiration in it.

    The sinner turns his back on the Lord to gravitate around the created things, without referring them to its Creator. St. Augustine describes sin as «as a love of self to the point of despising God». That is, a betrayal. A prevarication that is the fruit of «an arrogance with which we want to emancipate from God and be only ourselves; an arrogance which makes us believe we do not need the eternal love; an arrogance with which we wish to become the only masters of our own life» (Benedict XVI). We may understand that Jesus, that night, has felt «distressed in spirit» (Jn 13:21).

    Fortunately, sin is not the last word. The last word is God’s mercy. This means, however, a “change” on our side. Inverting the situation to part from all creatures and become attached to God to find again the true freedom. Nevertheless, to change to God we should not wait to become sick of the false freedom we have been using. As Louis Bourdaloue denounces, «we would like to convert when we would get tired of this world or, rather, when the world would get tired of us». We should know better than that. Let us make up our mind right now. Easter time is the adequate time. In the Cross, Christ opens his arms wide to all of us. Nobody is excluded. Every repented thief has his place in Paradise. On condition, however, to change his life and remedy his shortcomings, like the thief in the Gospel: «And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal» (Lc 23:41).

  • Carlos

    Carlos Poblet

  • Carlos

    Excellent point of view for pseudointellectuals who are proud of not having real values outside of their notion of “social justice”, “tolerance” and “equality” of good and evil, order and chaos, barbarism and civilization, AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY AND the false prophet in the “church of nice”, the world and the soul of mankind….

  • Jacqueleen

    Enjoyed the article. What comes to mind though is the fact that the gay community is not necessarily intelligent but rather forceful, loud, persevering, consistent and with evil megabucks behind them. If I had your talent to articulate with kindness to prove a point, I would not have been able to walk away without going for the jugular and making him aware of the comparison and his true feelings about the Same Sex Marriage agenda and the Human Rights Campaign….In his ignorance, The store keeper did not relate the conversation to the point of reference. The real agenda is demonic to destroy the church. We must stand up and fight for the faith. If we don’t, who will? Be a “Soldier for Jesus Through Mary.”

  • Veritas

    Nicely done, Jim. Credo.

  • Mike W

    … and of course if you had vast sums of money and influence among the media you probably would have won the discussion. When you hear judges talking about people being “productive members of society” what they are saying is there are a lot a very wealthy homosexuals around. How that should affect the definition of marriage I leave up to you.

    • Lutesuite

      When you hear judges talking about people being “productive members of society” what they are saying is there are a lot a very wealthy homosexuals around.

      Yeah, like the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch. Oh, wait….

  • John Grondelski

    Of course the issue is only SOME things will be redefined by SOME people who are sometimes prone to calling themselves “tolerant” while being very intolerable. Language cannot be without shared meaning; neither can marriage.

  • CarlsPatrick

    Very good analogy. It illustrates exactly what the SSM debate is all about with “equal” rights. Let’s now push to shell out only a $100 bill for a property worth $500,000. I commend you for this article, James. Very well written.

  • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

    You sold yourself short James. If you had persisted you would have got just the deal you wanted. You didn’t make enough noise. Make enough noise and you would have by now, legislation in place for no other reason that to shut you up..

  • wvstarktruth

    This would be a brilliant treatise if redefining marriage were really about equality. It is not. It is about breaking down religious faith and tradition as well as destroying the meaning and value of family. This is an imperative in the overall strategy of those who want to “fundamentally transform the Unites States of America.”. CONTROL. That’s what this is about.

  • ray

    This… this passes for logic or philosophy in the bigot circles? Really? Paying for a (made up) $20 toy with a $10 bill? Ouch. At least when all y’all clung to was “Mah Bible done told me so” it was internally consistent (though not related to external reality). Now it’s just getting pathetic.

    • GG

      You should try reading it again. It seems over your head.

      • ray

        I did. It’s not over my head. It’s below the coal reserves in my state. No wonder JJ is a professor of philosophy at a place no one has ever heard of. He’d be laughed out of a decent high school. I could obliterate all his arguments in this made-up story inside ~ 5 min. And I was not a philosophy major.

        • GG

          Your comment shows you are out of your league.

          • ray

            Why? Just because I can call out a terrible, pathetic argument when I see one? OK, guess I’m out of my league then. I’m at somewhere AA-AAA league level, and this is clearly T-ball for children with special needs level.

            • GG

              You cannot even follow a basic argument. A $10 bill does not magically change to $20 based on your private preference. That I need to point out the obvious is absurd.

              • ray

                A $10 bill “magically” changes to $20 if enough people agree that it does. The value of a rectangular piece of paper, just like the definition of marriage, is not set in stone. It changes based on social agreements. The value of money is ENTIRELY self-referential: it’s worth a certain amount only because our society has decided that it is. Marriage is identically self-referential: it’s defined as whatever society happens to define it at this time.

                • GG

                  The money example is offered only within the context of two people buying and selling. If you keep stretching it then you have no analogy because money is not in the same category as marriage.

                  • ray

                    *If you keep stretching it then you have no analogy because money is not in the same category as marriage. *

                    Ah, so you agree the analogy is horrible. Thank you for finally admitting the obvious.

                    Ironically, as I said, the analogy is pretty good precisely because it proves the opposite of what this “philosophy professor” thinks that it does.

  • Lutesuite

    This is possibly the stupidest argument I’ve yet heard against marriage equality, and that really is saying something.
    What Mr. Jacobs overlooks in his painfully overwrought analogy is that money actually does function as matter of convention and mutual agreement within a society. He seems to believe that “marriage” exists as some objective ideal, independent of human convention, as determined by a god or by “natural law” or some such thing, and if this is not respected society will collapse. But the value of money is not set by god or “natural law”, and yet the monetary system works just fine.
    What would ludicrous if we had a system in which the value of money was not independent of the person holding it, but depended on that person’s sexual orientation. So a dollar in the pocket of a straight person could purchase a dollar’s worth of goods, but if the dollar is in possession of a homosexual person is has no value. That would obviously be absurd and unjust. As a matter of fact, the state of Indiana is, at this moment, trying to pass a law that could have just that effect. But they’re having a hard time of it.

    • ray

      Lutesuite – thanks for taking the time to spell out what I was too lazy to point out because of how shoddy this “professor of philosophy” ‘s reasoning is.

      You forgot to mention that value of money fluctuates and changes all the time. Hell, in 2000 several very very major currencies suddenly went extinct, and a person holding a piece of paper worth 20 francs or deutche marks could go to bed on Tuesday with a valuable piece of property and wake up Wednesday with a piece of paper worth next to nothing.

      The irony is that JJ here does use an analogy that works (worth of money = definition of marriage). It just works to demonstrate the exact opposite of what he was trying to prove.

      • GG

        The problem with relativists is that they cannot reason properly. There is no true standard so they believe whatever they feel at any particular time is true. If money changes based on feeling then everyone is a billionaire. How incredibly stupid.

        • ray

          No, idiot, money changes not based on “feeling” but based on social agreement. If tomorrow everyone agreed that a $10 bill is worth $20 (of today’s money), then it will be! And if today everyone agrees that marriage can include gay couples… it does! That’s why JJ’s example clearly proves his own position wrong.

          • GG

            Wow. That is some sophisticated thinking the gay lobby uses. The value of money does not change based on individual exchanges. That is why the author’s example is so fitting. You have no logical reason or authority to claim $10 is more than it is. Following so far?

            As you cannot magically change the value so you cannot magically make marriage plastic so you can deform it to fulfill your deviant desire.

            Now, the individual valuation of some monetary unit may change for various reasons but not by the whim of some guy in a store.

            Marriage is not a monetary unit subject to change. The comparison between marriage and $10 example fits when understood whithin the parameters I just mentioned.

            Now, was that so hard to grasp?

            • ray

              Nice try. You are re-stating something that I have already demonstrated to be false. Money has NO intrinsic value. It’s a piece of paper, or a small bit of metal, or, increasingly, some bits in a computer. The ONLY reason it possesses any value is because we all agree that it does. Likewise, marriage has NO intrinsic definition, it is what we, as a society, agree that it is. Redefining marriage is no more or less arbitrary than switching from German DeutcheMarks to euros.

              Value can, and frequently is, changed based on circumstances. This is true of money, this is true of marriage. The value of a $10 bill today, for instance, is VASTLY different from the value of a $10 bill in 1910. So the definition of marriage today is different from what it was a century, or even a decade ago. Increasingly that definition includes same-sex couples.

              Now was THAT so hard to grasp?

        • Lutesuite

          The problem with relativists is that they cannot reason properly. There is no true standard so they believe whatever they feel at any particular time is true.

          Interestingly, many expressed similar fears when the Gold Standard was dropped. Turns out those fears were unfounded. Just as are the fears of the opponents of same sex marriage.

          • GG

            Oh please, is that the best you have? When is a $10 suddenly not $10?

            Words matter. When you arbitrarily call two men married you change the meaning of the word.

            Marriage equality, as you use it, is not equality at all. It is a fiction.

            • Lutesuite

              Oh please, is that the best you have? When is a $10 suddenly not $10?

              Ask your grandparents what they could buy for $10 when they were your age. There’s your answer.

              Words matter. When you arbitrarily call two men married you change the meaning of the word.

              Yeah. So? Who thinks the meaning of words must be sacred and immutable?

              Marriage equality, as you use it, is not equality at all. It is a fiction.

              ‘Fraid not. It’s very much a reality, and it’s coming to your town, if it isn’t there already. Deal with it.

    • GG

      What a bizarre reasoning. I guess using your logic then a $10 bill is really a $20 dollar bill.

      • Lutesuite

        What a bizarre reasoning. I guess using your logic then a $10 bill is really a $20 dollar bill.

        You’re the guy who said to ray,”You should try reading it again. It seems over your head,” right? Time to heed your own advice.

        • GG

          I have read it. I just do not spin it like you and the other relativists.

  • Dave

    Alice in Wonderland anyone? We’re headed so far down the rabbit hole we might never get out. The whole cilture has gone nuts. Look at us. We’re actually being asked (bullied really) to listen too and believe The MadHatter. Down is up and up is down; or maybe not. In a few short years the story of the Tower of Babble won’t hold a candle to an incoherent western culture. No two words will mean the same thing to two different people.

    • ray

      You mean the word “marriage” means the same to you as it does to a bedouin in the Sahara desert and to a sheik in Saudi Arabia? Really?

      Ignorance truly is bliss for you, ain’t it Dave?

      • Dave

        It’s awesome. But I think that ignorance bliss sword might cut both ways. Need to do a bit of study of the Natural law there Ray old pal.

        • ray

          I’ve studied “natural law”. It’s made up by some desperate religious folks to explain away the fact that reality doesn’t line up with their fairy tales. “Natural law” is as “natural” as an iPad, and as much of a law as “Humpty Dumpty”.

          But hey, if you have some sort of specific “law” you wish to bring up, by all means, please go ahead. Sometimes it’s fun to just destroy these things.

          $10 says you’ll run away or start hemming and hawing in order to avoid bringing up any of the “laws” you claim are so amazing.

          • Dave

            Looks like you might have failed that class Ray old pal. However, to have even the slightest chance of gleaning anything of value from studying the natural law you would first of course need to answer in the affirmative as to whether there is a Creator or not. A no answer leads you back down the rabbit hole into wonderland where of course the natural law is not so natural or even intelligible. There are of course many good and reasoned arguments for answering in the affirmative to the question of the Creator (actually more and better than for answering in the nagative), from everyone from Augustine to Aquinas to Newman to Spitzer to Barr and “Creator” knows how many more, but even at that, the Natural law does take reflection and discernment in addition to the Creator question and answer.

            By the way, I haven’t seen you destroy anyone anywhere. It’s actually quite funny watching you get all wound up and righteous in your rants tho so carry on. Have to admit I’m entertained easily tho.

            Think I’ll stick to the 2000 years of great philosophers and doctors of The church, etc. etc. for my life lessons. No need to listen to the not so greats

            • ray

              ** to have even the slightest chance of gleaning anything of value from studying the natural law you would first of course need to answer in the affirmative as to whether there is a Creator or not. **

              So… in order for a fairy tale to make sense you have to assume that the fairy tale is true. Not exactly how “logic” or “reality” works, but OK. You’ve left enough wiggle room (saying “Creator”, rather than a specific god) that this can technically still sorta work. Poorly. And not really. But kinda.

              ** A no answer leads you back down the rabbit hole into wonderland where of course the natural law is not so natural or even intelligible. **

              So if I don’t assume the fairy tale to be true, then, of course, the fan-fiction derived from that fairy tale is also not true. Makes sense. You’re one step away from figuring out what to do here. My money’s on you being unable to do so.

              Look, we’re just coming at this with very different approaches, so I doubt we’ll ever see eye-to-eye. You assume your belief is correct, and then only accept whatever doesn’t contradict that belief. I looks at facts / reality, and then test all beliefs and theories against these known facts. If you use your approach, natural law might yield something useful. If you use mine, then it doesn’t.

              ** There are of course many good and reasoned arguments for answering in the affirmative to the question of the Creator **

              I’m yet to find a single one, and I’ve spent a lot of time on it.

              ** from everyone from Augustine to Aquinas to Newman to Spitzer to Barr **

              I’ve looked at Acquinas. Smart dude. What he said made sense… back when we didn’t have science. Of course now that we do have science his philosophy no longer works, but for his day he was pretty good. No idea about the others, but if they came up with any good arguments for god’s existence, they have been hidden exceptionally well from general view.

              ** By the way, I haven’t seen you destroy anyone anywhere. **

              No one has been willing to offer anything of substance. Are you going to take a whack, or do I win my $10?

              ** Think I’ll stick to the 2000 years of great philosophers and doctors of The church, etc. etc. for my life lessons. **

              Be my guest. I’ll stick to reality and science. You can keep your imam… er, whatever your religion calls its charlatans.

              • Dave

                Well Ray, you’re right about one thing. We’re probably not going to agree on too much. Particularly on the nature of reality( you little materialist worshipping at the alter of science you). There is a beauty in all of it tho. Regardless of whether you answer in the affirmative or not to the Creator question the natural law will keep scratching at your heart (or at least the writer of the law will). It’s what brings you to these blogs. You see In the end it’s all about relationship. The Creator wants a relationship with you, which is there even now, antagonistic as it is (much like ours). Keep ranting. The Creator is listening. Waiting for you to listen. You’re going to make a great Catholic some day. It’s so beautiful.

                As for assuming my belief is correct and then accepting only what doesn’t contradict I think that might again be one of those swords that cuts more than one way. As my parting gift to you Ray I suggest you reflect on the nature of reality. At the very least it will keep you out of trouble and for the most part keep you from saying or doing anything really foolish. At most it will…. Well, I’ll leave that up to you. There lots there.

                Love you Ray. It’s been fun.

                • ray

                  ** you little materialist worshipping at the alter of science you **

                  I love how you people just can’t imagine not worshipping anything. Like a child who just cannot imagine anyone stronger than daddy…

                  ** Regardless of whether you answer in the affirmative or not to the Creator question the natural law will keep scratching at your heart **

                  Oh, you mean that “law” that you are too scared to bring up because you know I’ll quickly dispose of that delusion? That one? Right, right, that’s scratching at my heart. Kind of like that nagging feeling that I might be a wizard if they just let me into Hogwarts…

                  ** You see In the end it’s all about relationship.**

                  Nope. In the end it’s about reality. At least it is for me.

                  ** The Creator wants a relationship with you **

                  He can take the first step by starting to exist, or by starting to demonstrate a single shred of evidence that he (she?) exists. Your move, ExLax.

                  ** Keep ranting **

                  Logic does sound like ranting to the devoutly ignorant.

                  ** You’re going to make a great Catholic some day. **

                  LOL.

                  ** As for assuming my belief is correct and then accepting only what doesn’t contradict I think that might again be one of those swords that cuts more than one way **

                  No, it really just cuts one way. Against you.

                  ** As my parting gift to you Ray I suggest you reflect on the nature of reality.**

                  I have. A LOT more than you ever have, or could hope to.

                  ** At the very least it will keep you out of trouble and for the most part keep you from saying or doing anything really foolish **

                  It has so far, you are correct.

                  ** Love you Ray. **

                  Now who’s rendering words meaningless?

                  Do I get my $10 now?

                  • ray

                    BTW, some shards of what you refer to as “natural law” are actually just echoes of evolutionary drives that all species possess in some form. Of course these get convoluted, and polluted, with inane theological inventions and other such things, but certain biological drives still do exist. None of them prove, or even hint at, any sort of a “creator”, but they are quite real. That means, of course, that using basic biology to “prove” a creator is no more valid than using the existence of lightning to prove Zeus or the existence of brooms to prove Harry Potter.

  • Tim

    It is a pretty simple argument actually. Money a value set by a higher power (aka the government) can’t be changed by subjective feelings or desires. The same goes for the natural law, if one in-fact exists, if there is a law or value set by a higher power, aka God, nothing subjective can ever change that.

    To put it even simpler, money is an objective value, you can’t make it subjective

    Dr. Jacob’s point is that so is marriage an objective value, you can’t make it subjective.

    He also points out the idea that equality isn’t a subjective standard and doesn’t destroy distinction, which many people in this culture want to do.

  • Tom

    Well done! I think it is exactly right to say that rights now are seen as mere sentimental imperatives that demand obeisance from the public. In this respect, the folks at the HRC have more in common with IS than the Founding Fathers of our country. Couple this petulant sentimentality regarding rights with a reductionist perspective that equates morality to only the language of a specific law, and we have a recipe for cultural disaster. We have become a nation of laws at the expense of reason. A recent case in point occurred in CO. A pregnant woman was attacked by a deranged woman with a knife. The mother survived, but the perpetrator cut the unborn child from the mother’s womb and killed the nascent life. The criminal is only going to be convicted of aggravated assault, or some such trimmed down violation, but not homicide because, under CO law, the unborn child is not a person protected by law. The language of the law does not outlined any protections for the unborn, so this mother will have to live the rest of her life knowing the person who attacked her literally got away with murder. Interpreting what is right or wrong only within the narrowly circumscribed and contingent matrix of rights and laws leaves us all vulnerable.

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