Link blog: culture, Twitter, de-conversion, Christianity

Conversion via Twitter – The New Yorker
Megan Phelps – Roper on leaving Westboro Baptist Church, the church notorious for picketing funerals.
(tags: religion culture Twitter homosexuality Christianity de-conversion)

Link blog: rhetoric, catholicism, argument, christianity

Homeless Gay Teens Cast Out by Religious Families | Rolling Stone
Scary and sad.
(tags: religion homosexuality homelessness youth christianity catholicism)
How to Justify Any Policy, No Matter How Bad It Might Be
A bit like Jim Hacker’s tips on dealing with the press.
(tags: politics rhetoric argument)

Link blog: mozilla, okcupid, homosexuality, brendan-eich

FOLLOWERS FIRST – Jazz As Movement
Nathan Bugh writes: “Not only is following active and difficult, it is also the prerequisite for leading. When it comes to learning and teaching basic, lead/follow skills, the follower’s technique is a much more immediate priority than the leader’s technique. Her dancing ability, her awareness, strength, balance, use of the floor, etc. are the elements from which spring her following ability AND the leader’s leading ability. She is the beginning of the logic in the dance. In class, the followers empower the leaders to lead and to learn. Leaders judge their progress according to the results that their partners embody. Followers are the focus of the lead/follow process, and they have to follow before the leaders can lead.”
(tags: jazz lindy hop swing dancing following leading)
OkCupid | Aithrobates / 29 / M / Detroit, Michigan
Scott Alexander uses his OKCupid profile to protest OKCupid’s protest of the appointment of Brendan Eich as Mozilla’s CEO: “You should message me if You have some kind of weird fetish for people who protest decisions made by online dating sites. Must enjoy long walks on the beach during which we talk about nothing except how terrible OKCupid’s decision was.”
(tags: okcupid brendan-eich mozilla homosexuality)
Why I’m cool with what happened to Brendan Eich
Chris Hallquist was in favour of Eich getting the boot: “The boycott / internal protest against Eich worked because lots of people agreed with it. The employees of OKCupid and Mozilla behind the effort have no power, not even de facto power, that they could turn against a less deserving target. Nor is Eich being cast out of polite society. Really people, get a grip.”
(tags: chris-hallquist okcupid mozilla marriage brendan-eich homosexuality)

Link blog: emotion, europe, psychology, discrimination

Engineers are cold and dead inside, research shows • The Register
This is true. I’ve been faking it all these years.
(tags: psychology research engineering emotion)
Bringing your religious beliefs to work – what are the limits? | Opinion | The Lawyer
Cherie Booth looks at the recent European court decisions on religious expression at work (decisions which seemed pretty sensible to me).
(tags: law religion discrimination europe homosexuality)

Bishops Gone Wild: York vs gay marriage

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, recently released a statement on gay marriage. It’s doing the rounds on Facebook. Here’s a comment I posted there:

What an odd article: long on words, short on reasons why broadening the definition of marriage would be a bad thing.

Civil partnerships aren’t identical to marriage for some people: for example, married couples where one person transitions from one gender to another are forced to dissolve marriages and get civil parterships. For such people, it is very clear that a civil partnership is a second-class marriage: see http://www.sarahlizzy.com/blog/?p=87 for example.

The Archbishop claims that no Act of Parliament touches upon a definition of marriage, but then quotes a Canon which defines it as being lifelong. Did Parliament lack the authority to legalise divorce and re-marriage (a practice which, as I’ve said previously in http://pw201.livejournal.com/71272.html, has much stronger Biblical condemnation than homosexual relationships, and yet is curiously rather more acceptable to evangelicals)?

The Archbishop fears it may become “impossible to say how a good society needs most of its members to live”. But, if we want government to be involved in marriages at all, it is presumably because we think they are a social good. The people who want to broaden marriage need not be seeking a free for all, they may just think that gay marriages would also be a good. The Archbishop gives no good reasons to think that they wouldn’t be.

Despite saying that he is not merely advocating Christian marriage, his argument ultimately seems to rely on an (evangelical) Christian conception of it and of gender roles. I agree that Parliament has no warrant to define what that conception should be, nor what Pagan marriage or Quaker marriage should be (the fact that Parliament would prevent religious ministers from marrying two people of the same sex is a similarly unwarranted intervention). Let us have a civil conception of marriage based on public reason, and let everyone else do as they like: evangelicals can choose to marry only straight non-divorcees, Quakers can marry gays, and so on, in separate ceremonies, with only the civil marriage being recognised in law, and no compulsion on ministers of religion from equality laws.

Divorce and gay marriage

The Bible has much more to say on divorce and remarriage than it does on homosexuality. Ignoring the vexed question about what exactly the Bible does say about homosexuality (and the assumption implicit in the idea of “what the Bible says“, namely that the Bible is a unitary document which is to be read in the way evangelicals do), the New Testament statements on divorce are clearly and directly against both divorce and marrying a divorcee. Jesus describes the latter as adultery in all of the synoptic gospels. St Paul explicitly states that divorcees must not remarry.

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule: sexual malpractice of some kind (the Greek word which the New International Version translates as “marital unfaithfulness” here, and “sexual immorality” elsewhere, usually rendered “fornication” in the King James Version) and the case where a Christian has an unbelieving spouse and that spouse deserts the believer.

Nevertheless, my impression is that evangelical churches are more willing to re-marry divorcees (whether or not they would be subject to the exceptions mentioned above) than, say, Catholics are, while at the same time being steadfastly against gay marriage. I’ve been asking an evangelical about this on uk.religion.christian, after he made a statement which seemed to confirm my impression. He’s said some good things about repentance and forgiveness in regard to divorce, but hasn’t yet addressed the point that the second marriage itself is described as sinful by the Bible, so it’s hard to see how one can repent of a sin while one is doing it.

I think these churches are doing the right thing in letting compassion overrule “what the Bible says”, of course, but once you’ve done that, why not do it for the gays too? The reason why they don’t do that is, I cynically suspect, because they know what their members want: there are a lot more straight divorcees than there are gay people wanting to get married. As St Jack of Lewis pointed out, it’s very easy to condemn a sin to which you feel no particular temptation.