I respectfully submit these responses for your perusal, refusal, understanding, misunderstanding, handling, mishandling, or any other such element of use or abuse. The choice is left distinctly up to you.
Now, to begin...
Quote: "Mr. Brown, I find your arguments, while presented well, to be legalistic and built upon the acceptance of some things as "fact". "
Mr. Whaley: Thank you for saying I was well-presented. Might I also extend the courtesy.
Relating to some of my views being 'legalistic,' perhaps so. However, as I see it, no more so than anything modern Christianity pro ponders, which may also be considered as a form of legalism.
Quote: "Homosexuality is NOT equal or equivalent to marriage. It cannot be no matter how many people think it is."
I would tend to agree with this statement. Marriage is not equal or equivalent to homosexuality in any way; this is due to the fact that homosexuality is not marriage; it is, instead, a Sexual Orientation, one in which two people of the same gender are attracted to one another, primarily sexually, but also emotionally and spiritually (or non-physically, which I'll expound upon toward the end of this response to you.)
Quote: " It is clear that you are hostile to the notion of absolute truth, and that since Biblical truth represents an absolute moral base, then you aren't in a position to understand the issue from my side."
So, tell me. Are you saying because I'm not Christian that I can't possibly understand your side of things? Admittedly, I'm not Christian, I follow no specific religious code or belief system.
I find Christianity's so-called 'absolute truth' quite hostile to my own personal psycho/spiritual makeup; in fact, I find it reprehensible! This is because I do not define my fellow sentient beings as 'sinful.' To me, sin just doesn't, and never did, exist!
I find the concept of sin to be antithetical to my own psycho/spiritual makeup. To me, to be 'sinful' and thinking for any justification of a Precious Life's Moment that I am in any way 'spiritually inferior' due to some 'mistake' someone else made years ago, is--bringing along with it--a complete hegemony of allusions, lore, and fantasies that, if/when implemented, cause nothing but the viewpoint that I 'must needs consider myself an object of pain, suffering, reproach, slothfulness, and utterly irredeemable!'
I have but one thing to say to the foregoing: STIFLE THAT NONSENSE!
No human being is sinful. If sin is defined as 'incorrect action,' fine. However, the term 'sin' is usually applied to religious elements, and not merely used in the above view, in my own personal experience.
That is, to be 'sinful' is to be, as the Bible says, 'separated from God.' Horse feathers! How can I, as a human being, be separated from someone who is purported to be my Creator? How can I, as a living, breathing, learning, Loving, caring, other-respecting human entity even consider such concepts?
Have you ever had an out-of-body experience, Mr. Whaley? I've seen what my etheric body looks like. I've floated in my own room! I understand the 'Inherent Nature' of my Very Being, sir! I don't purport to understand the underlying mechanics, but I tell you that I have a pretty good idea that "I'm More Than My Physical Body," thank you very much!
Let's tackle another quote. I'll get back to the 'non physical, psycho/spiritual element of this discussion later.
Quote: "Majority doesn't create truth, though it can create law. I thank God for creating a nation where we are free to talk and debate and speak freely, but ultimately the fact that you reject God and what He says, no matter how "logical" or popular your opinion may be, is where your argument lies. "
The majority isn't always right. It may get laws passed, but there were laws segregating blacks from whites in the 'deep south' years ago. Look what happened to them. They were beaten, denied the right to keep arms, bullied, lynched, and killed. Still, this was 'law' up until the late sixties. And ol' Martin Luther got his head blown off for his trouble! Whatta Country!
Homosexuals are going through a similar situation in society--at least in those places not recognizing gay marriage. However, it has a more evil face to it: gay people are being discriminated against, relative to their being able to be with their loved ones at their deathbed and funerals! You watched my link, I assume. What kind of people were those folks of Tom's in Indiana that they had to react so belligerently? I mean, the guy's own father threatened him with a gun and physically attacked him, for pete's sake!
That isn't tolerance. That is unbridled hatred for an otherwise bright, alive young man! Until he fell from the building! Then his partner's mother--may she find no joy in mudville--came all the way out to California, playing upon her dead son's lover's emotions, essentially utilizing his downtrodden emotional state to effectively efface her son's partner from having anything to do with the funeral. Gads! She even took all of her son's personal belongings, and, due to his grief, Shane allowed that to happen!
I see a lot of problems with both people here, both the parents of the deceased, and the deceased's partner. Basically, one used someone emotionally, and the other had no emotive control and became her co-dependent enabler. That's just ugly, for it shows people in their worst state-of-mind: lack of controlling one's own momentum through life.
This is what I mean by saying that I am emotively conservative. The fact is, if it were me, she would've had a restraining order from the local prosecutor's office hand-delivered to her door, especially after having threats made by her husband.
My decision wouldn't even have had much emotion in it, save for being on the defensive a bit. The decision would have been made within a day!
How disrespectful for Shane's and Tom's feelings and lifestyle. Their son found love, just 'not the right kind?' And also to suggest that he needed 'medical help?' As if you can 'un-gay' a person. And please, I'm already familiar with so-called 'reparative' therapy, in spades! I tell you, I'm not in the least NARTHcissistic! No, not at all :-P. ...Okay, to continue...
Quote: "I'm sad that you are buying into the false notion of moral equivalency for all lifestyles but clearly you have and I don't know how to convince you otherwise so long as you can't accept that the only possible true source of truth comes from a higher and unchangeable source."
Moral equivalency for all lifestyles is fine with me. Let me be specific here, so there is no misunderstanding of my views: I promote moral equivalency for any lifestyle that promotes Love, the fostering of understanding between sentient beings (self-aware folk, in other words, those who are capable of making their own decisions and are aware of themselves making them), and anyone who wants to promote the element of 'familiy.' (Granted, my definition of family may be different than yours.)
I promote moral equivalency among people of all creeds, colors, nationalities (really political constructs, nothing more; we all live on one planetary biosphere, you see!), and I really don't care where on Earth you're from. (Don't care what planet, either, so long as your biomass is compatible with mine, I welcome you to our world! Mr. Whaley, if you were to understand God, perhaps you might try to envision yourself as such. You don't have to be ridiculous, just be understanding and be willing to 'think like a Creator might think.' Who knows? God might even smile at you from within, giving you 'that warm feeling.'. ;-])
As for 'unchangeable sources,' again I have to remind you that the current Bible you're holding in your hand has, indeed, changed over time. The book simply isn't for non-bronze-age people, and last I checked, that era went out with the bathwater years ago.
You feel you need a modern 'bible?' Try Cosmos, by Carl Sagan. Read a physics journal. Go to a poor part of America and build orphanages and homeless shelters. Plant crops for a summer. Go on a motorcycle journey for a year, chronicling all the different people you meet. Want to learn about possible spiritual life and how it interacts with a physical body? Try a week at The Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia! Been there myself, back in October of 2004.
Do what Jesus Taught! Stop gay bashing and Start To Live! Hanging on to outdated, outmoded methodologies of thought is what is killing advancement in academia, especially the social sciences. Social! That's what this is about: being sociable to others who are different than yourself; promoting moral equivalency for my neighbor, as I do so for myself. Hmm...wonder where I remember reading that? ;-)
As for ' truth coming from higher, unchangeable sources,' that is one way to get it. I can easily accept truth from a changeable source, as well. It depends on the the 'truth.' Truth...Is...Relative.
Now, some things held to be true are pretty dependable. Gravity, for one. Arbitrary, gravity is, unless you are in an airplane or helicopter. However, it's effect is still there. I would consider gravity to be true, but gravity can come through nature or it can be artificially generated. Two sources, both true. Hmmm...
Quote: " The wisdom of the world is but foolishness to God. Personally, I'd rather trust the one who created the universe over any human every time, no matter how unpopular that makes me."
How do you know? 'Because the Bible says so?' As an experiment in thought, think like God for a moment. Wisdom is foolishness? George Orwell had his 'freedom means slavery' in 1984. To me, that statement implodes on itself. How can the world exist in foolishness if God created it?
Perhaps you're referring to the planetary inhabitants known as humans? That's quite possibly it, I gather.
Isn't it also a tenet of Christianity to learn everything one can about one's Creator? To understand one's own existence, empirically, directly, Knowing, not 'merely believing?' To me, that is the crux of anyone's delving into the Mysteries of the Universe. Where, in fact, 'do we come from?'
Mr. Whaley, Consciousness is the key, I believe, for the answer to this conundrum. No old moldy book (oh, sorry, I mean that nice leather volume you just bought from Barnes and Noble) can substitute for 'Direct, Personal Experience.' When you've experienced consciousness expansion, one is imparted with a--call it 'A Degree of "KNOWING."
I'll concur with you regarding one element of something I would term, 'absolute,' although I think the term 'personally empirical' is a better moniker for the describing of the experience.
I had a 'communicative experience' once, just after I'd fallen asleep. This was different from a standard dream state. I was extremely relaxed, close to 'dead weight' in my bed, and was physically exhausted. I was researching out-of-body consciousness full-bore back then, and wanted to try an experiment. So I did. (Note: the 'tiredness' wasn't related to any type of spiritual work, I had just had a long day.)
I cleared my mind of mental detritus, breathed deeply a few times, then put out the request that "if there is any legitimate source, that being for my higher good, that feels a need to communicate with me tonight, this is the time to do so. I am surrounded and protected, and do not allow negative or non-essential information to pass." Or something like that, it's been a long time.
Not soon after, I was out like a light. The thing is, I was also awake, mentally. Before me was a still-life type 'picture' of me, kneeling on a wood floor. To my right, there was a Christmas Tree, with gifts underneath it. Those to the immediate right of tree were not open, some towards the middle were partially open, and some to the left--especially those around and near me--were already open.
The answer came very directly, in a manner I can only call 'Direct Understanding.' I said to myself, "Oh, I see what this means. Some gifts (of the spirit and mind, inherent ability, physical capabilities, etc.) aren't ready to be opened yet, some are in the process of being opened, (unfolding abilities, etc.), and still others are already opened. (Maybe being able to process a checkbook balance, what-have-you, the ability to deal with general life issues, etc.)
The scene then shifted, like a slide show or PowerPoint presentation, to the left.
Above my head in the first 'slide,' there was a picture of an evergreen tree. This next 'slide' was a close-up of that tree. Upon that tree, I was drawn towards the noticing of two things: The trunk and little things that were moving along that trunk, much like looking down on cars from a jet liner.
I noticed that the top-most part of the trunk--where it went into the top of the evergreen--was really bent. The movement represented working energy, I assumed, of consciousness, or just 'living the life.' The thought immediately came to me: "Oh, I see, 'some alignment is needed.'"
That was the end of the experience.
So, what did I experience? Myself, I know it to be an empirical (to me), absolutely accurate communication with my inner mind. Essentially, it was "me, communicating with higher consciousness." There was no 'evil' involved. I know evil. I've had it directed at me where it was palpable. Happened to me my senior year in high school, but that's another story.
I am quite Aware, as it were, about my spiritual life. To me, human beings are two-fold: IE, we have both a physical, and non-physical existence, all going on at the same time. The brain acts as a transducer, combining the two forms, making interaction possible. Making UNDERSTANDING possible. Making LEARNING possible.
This, Mr. Whaley, can not be had from the Bible. It's too direct! Consider what Jesus said about 'going into your prayer closet when you pray.' What did that mean exactly? Going within? What else could it mean, sir? Please consider this.
A bit more on this subject, then I shall retire for the night. I'm getting a bit lightheaded typing this, but I wanted to give you a fair and equitable response.
Again, I find that our existence incorporates a variety of elements, meaning parts. The physical has the usual arrangement of limbs, brain, torso, legs, feet, and the like, depending on the animal. Humans are considered, biologically, part of the animal-mammalian kingdom, so I won't go into detail on that here. It's not germain to the theory, anyway. What is germain, however, is what exists *within* the human being, and what is going on at any given time.
You want to understand why you're not separated from anything? Because, if you were, you'd fizzle out and not be able to be around anymore, that's why! Ever hear of the 'silver cord?' It's a metaphor for a metaphysical connection to the information center of the Universe. Take it or leave it, it's just like computer networks, Mr. Whaley! And we're 'all connected to the Galactic Internet!'
We're constantly sending...call them 'Signals of Experience'..., and, using your vernacular, 'back to God,' where he/she/it/etc. is assimilating (though not like the Borg, mind you) data, learning as we learn, growing as we grow, Knowing More as soon as we Know More. Know more from the Direct Experience of Learning.
Now, what binds all this mess together? Love. It's not just an emotion, it's like glue, binding each one to another, keeping things from spinning apart. Ever try to keep a thought together? Tell me this: What is easier to remember, a thought made of hate, or one of Love?
To me, the answer's rhetorical. To you, I hope it's obvious.
Much Love, Light, Peace, Joy, Experience of Mystery, and Bewilderment at the Glory of It All, Mr Whaley.
Or, to coin a phrase, "God Bless You and Yours! Amen!"
----SOME GENERAL MUSINGS----
Moral Absolutism...may be defined as..."the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act. Thus, actions are inherently moral or immoral, regardless of the beliefs and goals of the individual, society or culture that engages in the actions. It holds that morals are inherent in the laws of the universe, the nature of humanity, the will of God or some other fundamental source.
It is the opposite of Moral Relativism, the position that moral propositions do not reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. It is related to, but not the same as, Moral Realism (the position that certain acts are objectively right or wrong, independent of human opinion), and to Moral Universalism (the position that there is a universal ethic which applies to all people, regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality or other distinguishing feature)."
Source: Mastin, L. (2008). Moral Absolutism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_absolutism.html
Response: I do not favor this view. To me, to ascribe that there are absolutes in Nature simply defies logic. Nature is forever changing, even creating mutations to alleviate suffering in a particular environment over time, making it easier to live in said environment.
The Universe-at-large (ala Hubble) is shown to be churning forth stars at galactic centers and inside of nebulae. Absolute? Change is all around us, nothing is static. This may be oversimplifying the matter, but I think it properly reflects my views. How can there be moral absolutes in a constantly changing environment? Even the Bible has gone through revisions and re-translations.
If you're going to use the Bible as a reference, please do so as a scholar would. Learn the original languages, consult with top scholars in the field, and learn it! There are more quandaries than absolutes in languages and how they change from generation to generation.
How I treat others is not determined by any kind of absolute law or rule, either. Essentially, I treat people kindly. If they don't treat me the same way, at first, perhaps they had a bad day. If later, the matter is the same, I just don't talk with them.
How I respond depends upon the situation. If I'm physically attacked, I protect myself. Same as anybody else would. If I'm threatened by anyone, I respond in kind, making it clear that consequences will ensue if the threat is not immediately removed. I make my decisions to act based on the relative position I am within a given context. Sometimes it isn't good to defend, until one has the upper hand. That is a relativistic position, not an absolute one.
Moral Relativism: "Moral Relativism (or Ethical Relativism) is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. It does not deny outright the truth-value or justification of moral statements (as some forms of Moral Anti-Realism do), but affirms relative forms of them. It may be described by the common aphorism: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
Moral Relativists point out that humans are not omniscient, and history is replete with examples of individuals and societies acting in the name of an infallible truth later demonstrated to be more than fallible, so we should be very wary of basing important ethical decisions on a supposed absolute claim. Absolutes also tend to inhibit experimentation and foreclose possible fields of inquiry which might lead to progress in many fields, as well as stifling the human spirit and quest for meaning. In addition, the short term proves itself vastly superior in the ethical decision-making process than the relatively unknown long-term.
Relativistic positions may specifically see moral values as applicable only within certain cultural boundaries (Cultural Relativism) or in the context of individual preferences (Ethical Subjectivism). A related but slightly different concept is that of Moral Pluralism (or Value Pluralism), the idea that there are several values which may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in conflict with each other (e.g. the moral life of a nun is incompatible with that of a mother, yet there is no purely rational measure of which is preferable)."
Source: Mastin, L. (2008). Moral Relativism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_relativism.html
Response: See Above.
For a definition of Marriage, I offer the following:
a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage. Antonyms: separation.
3. the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage. Synonyms: nuptials, marriage ceremony, wedding. Antonyms: divorce, annulment.
Source: the definition of marriage. (n.d.). Dictionary.com. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marriage?s=t
To me, this is all marriage is, a joining of two people who love each other, who want to live together in a manner in which their society recognizes their legitimacy as a couple, and confers upon them essential legal rights. In the crucial manner of understanding presented here, this is meant to mean that homosexual couples be afforded the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples:
One, that they are allowed to "marry" and have that union called "marriage" and nothing else.
Two, that they are afforded the exact same legal rights that heterosexual couples receive.
So tell me, Mr. Whaley, what is wrong with this? Are you to tell me that "the God of the Hebrews" is dictating how my life is to unfold? Let's see...I'm not Hebrew. Don't speak a word of it. Nor Aramaic. Nor Arabic. My ancestors aren't even from that part of the world. I'm of Northern European stock with a smattering of Cherokee thrown into the mix.
To say that a Hebrew Bible represents any aspect of my ancestral history is simply ludicrous! I'm not of any aspect or creed of the Jewish faith. However, neither am Christian, nor Muslim. I was raised in the Episcopal church growing up, so I certainly have some exposure to Christianity. I've also attended, in my younger days, the Evangelical Free Church, Four Square Church, Society of Friends/Quakers, and Seventh Day Adventists.
I survived my "Independent Bible-Belt Baptist Church Experience" Relatively Unscathed! I mean this only semi-literally. That particular church was as "hellfire and brimstone" as one could get. Thankfully, I only lasted six months, as did my then-girlfriend. Even she got sick of it.
Now I 'know better.' ;-)