All the king’s horses and all the king’s marriages

February 7, 2013 § 41 Comments

There is no doubt that the current regime’s understanding of marriage is perverse and wrong.  One proposal for dealing with the problem has been for the state to “get out of the marriage business“, and one specific proposal for how the state should do that is the nominalist solution.  In the nominalist solution a prima facie contract between two or more parties is a “marriage” when the parties say it is a “marriage”; and when it is a “marriage”, the state should decline to enforce any of the contract terms.  Any contracts which are enforced must not be marriages.

One background requirement seems to be a kind of “no handshakes over coffee” rule.  For thousands of years it has been possible to enter into a contract over coffee with a handshake, which is perfectly enforceable as long as there is any prima facie evidence of the contract — witnesses, for example.   But as prerequisite to the nominalist solution government should only enforce those terms of a contract which are explicit and written, without importing any meaning whatsoever from extra-textual tradition, culture, implicit understandings, etc. In other words it takes textual positivism as a given: sola contract, if you will.

Like every requirement that authoritative meaning proceed from the explicit text and only the explicit text, this would empty the text of all meaning.

If the nominalist solution applies to the term “marriage”, then why wouldn’t it apply to all the other terms in the contract? The words mean just what the parties say they mean, nothing more, nothing less. Therefore there is no way to adjudicate between one party’s nominalist assertions and the other party’s nominalist assertions, in general.  In fact one party could assert that by “purchase contract” he actually meant “marriage”: he was marrying your car not purchasing it, and therefore the state should stay out of it.

Or perhaps the government asserts that the nominalist solution only applies to the terms it chooses to apply it to; “marriage”, for instance. In that case the government is definitely in the marriage business, through a positive assertion of its meaninglessness.

Stepping back from the issue a bit, I’ll just point out that you can’t solve the problem of marriage nominalism by insisting on more nominalism.  You can’t solve a problem of raving irrationality by insisting on more raving irrationality.

Perhaps Christian weddings should be held in the Tower of Babel.

§ 41 Responses to All the king’s horses and all the king’s marriages

  • Our Heroine says:

    There are contracts and agreements that the state does not adjudicate and no one bats an eye. For example, Baptism is a covenant, but could be considered a contract as well. A child (or adult) is given rebirth as an adoptive child of God, but with responsibilities to grow and practice in Faith. As an infant, the child’s parents and/or Godparents assume that responsibility, as an adult, the responsibility falls on the child himself.

    As we both know, many parents Baptize for the after party, and with no intention of ever darkening the doors of a Church again, yet no one calls upon the State to adjudicate this as a breach of contract.

    No Pastor has yet to sue an apostate Christian for failure to fully participate in the Christian community after entering into a contract (with witnesses!) to do so in exchange for cleansing of original sin.

    By the broad handshake standards of the State, baptism is a contract as much as it is also a covenant, and yet we don’t think it’s odd that the state is not involved with its enforcement. So it could be with marriage.

    Again, bad bahavior and injustices perpetrated between “marrieds” would be handled in the same way that bad behaviour and injustices are handled between “non-marrieds”

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    Baptism is not a contract. A contract requires (minimally) offer, acceptance, and consideration between two parties. We can easily identify all three for marriage.

  • Our Heroine says:

    I disagree, especially for adult baptism.

    There is a quid pro quo offer: The pastor agrees to perform a rite that the adult wishes to receive in order to facilitate his salvation. The adult makes a promise to perform in return for receiving the rite: they will participate in the life of Faith. While no time limit is explicitly stated in the Baptismal ritual, it is assumed that the obligation to perform assumed by the adult begins immediately after the pastor performs his duty.

    I would say that Salvation is a considerable benefit (consideration) to the adult, as the aquisition of a new Christian soul for God is to the pastor.

    The contractual promises are repeated in front of witnesses.

    It may not be as obvious as in a marriage, but I maintain that the requirements of a contract are there.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    I would say that Salvation is a considerable benefit (consideration) to the adult, as the aquisition of a new Christian soul for God is to the pastor.

    You can say that, but saying that salvation is consideration in a contract doesn’t actually make it so. As I mentioned in the other thread, I think part of the problem is that some people don’t know what a contract is.

  • Our Heroine says:

    ZC:

    My husband is an attorney, and he *does* know what a contract is, and I ran my rationale by him before I posted, and he agreed that Baptism could be considered a contract. The state might (and likely would) decline to enforce it, but by the definition of a contract, it meets the criteria: offer (cleansing of original sin; which has value to the participant); acceptance (by completing the act of Baptism); mutual understanding of the arrangement; finally, performance of the act completes the “legalism” of the arrangement.

    If you are working with a different definition of a contract, please do define it, but Baptism can work as a contract (at least in Pennsylvania)!

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    Your husband is wrong. Sacramental grace conferred by God is not a property interest transferred from one party to another, capable of functioning as consideration in a contract.

    It seems to me that the fact that criticisms of my argument are bookended on one side by the contention that sacramental grace is consideration in a contract and on the other side by anarchism demonstrates the force of my argument.

  • Our Heroine says:

    I am going to continue to disagree with you. According to Legal Dictionary.com (because my husband is not around to pester), “Consideration must be of value (at least to the parties), and is exchanged for the performance or promise of performance by the other party (such performance itself is consideration).” It does not say that it MUST be a property interest, though in a different definition on the same site I see that it must have “objective value” but I do not think that is an insurmountable obstacle to my argument, as non-property items are determined to have objective value all the time.

    However, at least I see from whence the issue is arising. But what is the property value in the marriage contract? The promises of love and fidelity have no contractual value as consideration, according to your strict property definition.

    “For richer or for poorer” does not constitute a property promise either, it merely means that I will remain faithful if YOU are poor, or YOU are rich. Just as I will remain faithful if YOU are sick or YOU are healthy.

    I am not denying that “promises” of property have come to play a huge role in the dissolution of marriages, but they are not in the promises that Christians make before God. These contractual-style property promises have been imposed on marriage by the state, i.e. “she gets half.” The Church would never even consider the question of property as a “contractual consideration” in marriage because to Mother Church marriage is an unbreakable covenant, not a contract.

  • Mike T says:

    Perhaps I am missing something in her argument, but baptism is not a guarantee of salvation. Salvation can only be granted by God. Therefore there is basis to argue that the church was exchanging salvation for anything, including belief and participation.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    because my husband is not around to pester

    Since you’ve invoked his authority qua lawyer here to bolster your argument, it would be interesting to ask him if he would be willing to publish a brief in his own name with his reputation qua lawyer on the line making an argument that baptism is a contract just like marriage. I wouldn’t fault him for declining, mind you — there are plenty of reasons to stay pseudonymous in these discussions. But asking himself the question honestly would make a good ‘gut check’ of his conviction on the matter.

    In any case though it is really irrelevant, because it is unequivocally the case that there do exist genuine prima facie contracts which the government declines to enforce. A contract selling onesself into slavery, for example, or a contract selling one’s children to be eaten by cannibals, will not be enforced by the government, even though they are prima facie contracts.

    But the government doesn’t decline to enforce them because it is “not in the business” of murder, slavery, or cannibalism. It declines to enforce them precisely because it has a substantive understanding of those matters and has made a substantive judgment on them.

  • Zippy says:

    BTW marriage is the only sacrament of the seven which is specifically a contract between two people in addition to a covenant with God.

  • Our Heroine says:

    Mike, I used “salvation” as shorthand, and I ought not to have. I agree the Church does not bestow salvation in Baptism, but she does remove original sin, which is the critical first step, so-to-speak, in making Salvation possible for those who know the Church.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    but [the Church] does remove original sin

    No, she doesn’t. God does.

  • Our Heroine says:

    ZC:

    I was noodling you BTWs comment. At first, I was in agreement with you, until I considered how unique the indissolubilityof marriage makes it as a contract. I looked again at Black’s Law Dictionary, and Legal Dictionary Online, and while neither state explicitly that a contract can be dissolved, it is almost an unspoken requirement for a contract to be in place, otherwise you’ve just made a one-sided promise to do or give something, in *hopes* of a reward. A contract only exists to protect both parties if someone fails to perform according to an agreed-upon standard.

    But marriage is unique in that it cannot be exited, even if there is a breach of promise by one or both of the parties. Nor can “damages” be sought by one party if the other fails to live their obligations in some way. I am speaking strictly sacramentally here, I know the State does enforce correctives. Again, strictly sacramentally, I wonder if it really can be considered a contract the way the law defines it, because Wife is obligated to perform her duties regardless of what Husband does and vice versa. In the secular world, a contract like that would be non-sensical. What would be the point of such a document?

  • Our Heroine says:

    OH:
    but [the Church] does remove original sin

    ZC:
    No, she doesn’t. God does.

    Agreed, but the Church is still required to perform the rite. I can’t baptize myself, and God only steps in without an intermediary in extreme circumstances.

    If someone wanted to sue the Church for refusing to baptize them, because being cleansed of Original Sin was of paramount importance to them, the Church’s defense would not be, “They should just ask God to do it.” The Church’s defense would be that for whatever reason, this person was not prepared to live out the obligations of the Faith that Baptism placed on them.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    and while neither state explicitly that a contract can be dissolved, it is almost an unspoken requirement for a contract to be in place

    No. Contracts cannot be arbitrarily dissolved. A contract may have explicit terms for various remedies in various scenarios; but adhering to those terms is following the contract, not dissolving it. When one party is in breach the other has access to the courts for remedy, and the court does what the court does in that case: the contract has been breached. This has ever been the case, and is (and has ever been) the case with the contract of marriage too.

    The important point is that the fact that one person has breached the contract does not, in fact, dissolve the contract.

    Cane Caldo mentioned in the other thread that the government doesn’t adjudicate children’s disputes over candy. But that is because children cannot enter into contracts. Adults are more than capable of going to small claims court in a dispute over candy. When they do, the judge will do what the judge will do.

    But the fact that people break contracts is not evidence that contracts are dissoluable. They aren’t.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    but the Church is still required to perform the rite [of Baptism]

    No it isn’t. Even a non-Christian can perform a valid baptism. CCC 1256.

  • Our Heroine says:

    Zippy, some contracts can be dissolved, others , as you say, stipulate remediation. Agreed. My point was that the marriage “contract” between the man and woman that is undertaken at the altar in the Sacrament of Marriage offers NEITHER. It can neither be dissolved, nor, as I said, can either party seek damages or remediation.

    Again, I know stuff happens in family court, but that is not part of the vows at the altar. Wife must live her vows regardless of what husband does. Husband must live his vows regardless of what Wife does. There are no protections in place for different scenarios. That makes the marriage “contract” as you call it, unique, and I wonder if Sacramental marriage meets the definition of a contract without those protections.

    Again, without ANY protection against your failure to perform your obligations, why the heck do I need a contract?

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    nor, as I said, can either party seek damages or remediation

    You keep saying that even though it is false. I think what you mean to say is that that is how you would like it to be.

    But that just brings us full circle. Yes, there are contracts (cannibalism, slavery, etc) that the government does not enforce. But that isn’t because government has “gotten out of the slavery business”: it is because the government has identified a substantive interest and taken a substantive stand on the matter.

  • Our Heroine says:

    ZC: I feel like now I’m just annoying you, because you are quibbling over the mechanics of Baptism, rather than the larger point of Baptism as a possible contract.

    I too have read the Catechism. I know what you are talking about, but there is a reason thousands of people every year choose to have themselves and their children baptized in a Church, by a Priest, rather than doing it in their kitchen sink after dinner. Obviously, many, many people associate a real value with Church baptism. I also know that the Church sometimes declines to perform Baptism, if it deems the person (or parents) not ready to assume the obligations of the life of Faith.

    But if Church baptism is something of value (which it is to many, many people), and the Church agrees to perform it with the expectation that I am now going to participate in the life of Faith, we have wandered into (at least) the rough outlines of a contract.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    I’m only talking about Baptism because you keep insisting that it is a contract when it isn’t. If it is fair for you to invoke your attorney husband as an authority it is certainly fair for me to challenge that authority and point out where you have the facts wrong.

  • Our Heroine says:

    ZC: In the Rite of Marriage that a man and woman undertake before God, what are the stipulations for remediation to which both agree if one or the other should fail to perform their marital obligations?

    I just underwent this Rite, and I cannot recall a single recourse that I have (before God and the Church) if my husband turns out to be a total, adulterous jerk aside from prayer.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    In the Rite of Marriage that a man and woman undertake before God, what are the stipulations for remediation to which both agree if one or the other should fail to perform their marital obligations?

    Stipulations for remediation are not required in order for there to be a contract. Ask your husband.

  • Our Heroine says:

    Fair enough, but my husband’s point was that Baptism is an action of value to someone, and therefore can be 1/2 of a contractual agreement. In trying to define what that value was in shorthand, I used “salvation”, “cleansing of original sin” etc. That was my mistake, not his.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    my husband’s point was that Baptism is an action of value to someone, and therefore can be 1/2 of a contractual agreement.

    I’m still mildly interested – in a doesn’t-really-affect-the-argument way – in his honest visceral reaction to the suggestion that he put his reputation as an attorney on the line by writing a published brief or article credited to himself qua attorney contending that every time someone is baptized it is a contract. Or, alternatively, that marriage is not a contract.

  • Our Heroine says:

    I promise I will ask him, as soon as he gets home! (that will be late on the East Coast, you may not hear from him til tomorrow)

    Sweet. Fancy. Moses! I hogged your comboxes today. I’ve never commented anywhere before with as much enthusiasm and words as I have here today. But I’m feeling a little troll-y after all these exchanges 🙂

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    I’ve never commented anywhere before with as much enthusiasm and words as I have here today. But I’m feeling a little troll-y after all these exchanges

    Good times.

  • Scott W. says:

    Any comments on the difference between contract and covenant?

  • Cane Caldo says:

    I wish these folks were my parents.

    “Go clean your room.”

    “Why?”

    “Because a clean room is better to live in, and I said.”

    “I don’t think I’m up to that responsibility, Dad.”

    “Sorry?”

    “That’s not a contract I’m prepared to live by.”

    “You got me son!”

  • Chris says:

    Zippy says:

    BTW marriage is the only sacrament of the seven which is specifically a contract between two people in addition to a covenant with God.

    Ok. covenant versus contract? Well, this is what covenential theology looks like. Calvin, Institutes, Book 2, Ch 10.

    1.

    From what has been said above, it must now be clear, that all whom, from the beginning of the world, God adopted as his peculiar people, were taken into covenant with him on the same conditions, and under the same bond of doctrine, as ourselves; but as it is of no small importance to establish this point, I will here add it by way of appendix, and show, since the Fathers were partakers with us in the same inheritance, and hoped for a common salvation through the grace of the same Mediator, how far their condition in this respect was different from our own. For although the passages which we have collected from the Law and the Prophets for the purpose of proof, make it plain that there never was any other rule of piety and religion among the people of God; yet as many things are written on the subject of the difference between the Old and New Testaments in a manner which may perplex ordinary readers, it will be proper here to devote a special place to the better and more exact discussion of this subject. This discussion, which would have been most useful at any rate, has been rendered necessary by that monstrous miscreant, Servetus, and some madmen of the sect of the Anabaptists, who think of the people of Israel just as they would do of some herd of swine, absurdly imagining that the Lord gorged them with temporal blessings here, and gave them no hope of a blessed immortality. Let us guard pious minds against this pestilential error, while we at the same time remove all the difficulties which are wont to start up when mention is made of the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. By the way also, let us consider what resemblance and what difference there is between the covenant which the Lord made with the Israelites before the advent of Christ, and that which he has made with us now that Christ is manifested.

    2.

    It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs. But because this brief summary is insufficient to give any one a full understanding of the subject, our explanation to be useful must extend to greater length. It were superfluous, however, in showing the similarity, or rather identity, of the two dispensations, again to treat of the particulars which have already been discussed, as it were unseasonable to introduce those which are still to be considered elsewhere. What we propose to insist upon here may be reduced to three heads: – First, That temporal opulence and felicity was not the goal to which the Jews were invited to aspire, but that they were admitted to the hope of immortality, and that assurance of this adoption was given by immediate communications, by the Law and by the Prophets. Secondly, That the covenant by which they were reconciled to the Lord was founded on no merits of their own, but solely on the mercy of God, who called them; and, thirdly, That they both had and knew Christ the Mediator, by whom they were united to God, and made capable of receiving his promises. The second of these, as it is not yet perhaps sufficiently understood, will be fully considered in its own place, (Book 3 chap. 15-18.) For we will prove by many clear passages in the Prophets, that all which the Lord has ever given or promised to his people is of mere goodness and indulgence. The third also has, in various places, been not obscurely demonstrated. Even the first has not been left unnoticed.

    3.

    As the first is most pertinent to the present subject, and is most controverted, we shall enter more fully into the consideration of it, taking care, at the same time, where any of the others requires explanations to supply it by the way, or afterwards add it in its proper place. The Apostle, indeed, removes all doubt when he says that the Gospel which God gave concerning his Son, Jesus Christ, “he had promised aforetime by his prophets in the holy Scriptures,” (Rom. 1: 2.) And again, that “the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets,” (Rom. 3: 21.) For the Gospel does not confine the hearts of men to the enjoyment of the present life, but raises them to the hope of immortality; does not fix them down to earthly delights, but announcing that there is a treasure laid up in heaven, carries the heart thither also. For in another place he thus explains, “After that ye believed [the Gospel,] ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession,” (Eph. 1: 13, 14.) Again, “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel,” (Col. 1: 4.) Again, “Whereunto he called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (2 Thess. 2: 14.) Whence also it is called the word of salvation and the power of God, with salvation to every one that believes, and the kingdom of heaven. But if the doctrine of the Gospel is spiritual, and gives access to the possession of incorruptible life, let us not suppose that those to whom it was promised and declared altogether neglected the care of the soul, and lived stupidly like cattle in the enjoyment of bodily pleasures. Let no one here quibble and say, that the promises concerning the Gospel, which are contained in the Law and the Prophets, were designed for a new people. For Paul, shortly after making that statement concerning the Gospel promised in the Law, adds, that “whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law.” I admit, indeed, he is there treating of a different subject, but when he said that every thing contained in the Law was directed to the Jews, he was not so oblivious as not to remember what he had said a few verses before of the Gospel promised in the Law. Most clearly, therefore, does the Apostle demonstrate that the Old Testament had special reference to the future life, when he says that the promises of the Gospel were comprehended under it.

    A covenant is akin to a contract. It depends on whom it is with. God keeps his covenants faithfully (which is why Calvin says that the Jewish Covenant remains in force). We do not. It is the prescence of God in the covenants that give them spiritual power. (The reformed use the word covenant about as frequently as RCC uses sacrament).

    Our theology should drive our attitude to these issues — or this is a place we need a good Reformed professor of theology (that is not me, BTW) and a good Jesuit 🙂

  • Chris says:

    Nested blockquotes. Grrr. (then mea culpa).

    [I think I fixed it. Let me know if I screwed it up. — Z]

  • Our Heroine says:

    Good Morning Zippy! Ok, I asked my hubby your question last night, and here’s the conversation as identically as I can remember it. I didn’t tell him I was asking at your request, because I thought he might take a position he didn’t really believe just to defend me to you. (he’s sweet like that!)

    Me: Hey! Remember that Baptism-as-contract question I asked you yesterday? If pressed, would you write a legal brief, under your own name, making that argument?
    Him: No.
    Me: (surprised) Oh?
    Him: I would never degrade Baptism like that.
    Me: OH! Ok, I get it. But, try to imagine you weren’t a Christian, and didn’t honor the Sacraments as you do. Without that emotional connection, would you do it?
    Him: Probably not, because it’s such an esoteric subject, I’d look a little silly. I’d want to write about something meatier.
    Me: But if it it weren’t a silly and academic back ally?
    Him: I think I get where you’re going, and the best I can tell you is this: I wouldn’t write a brief on it for academic purposes, because it’s a silly question. BUT, if I needed to make the argument for a paying client; not only would I do it, I can guarantee you that if I brought it before 50 judges, I could find a fair number of them that would be willing to enforce it as such.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    Thanks. Do you take that conversation as evidence for or against the proposition that marriage is a contract?

  • Zippy says:

    Scott:
    Any comments on the difference between contract and covenant?

    No, not really. I used the terms colloquially to refer to agreements between people and agreements between a person and God, respectively. But that is just the semantics of how I used them in this discussion: I wasn’t trying to say anything particularly profound about either.

  • Our Heroine says:

    I take it as evidence that marriage most assuredly IS a contract, as the State defines it. The State has been treating religious marriage as a contract since Henry VIII (at least!). We have all gone along with that treatment. I am obvs a terribly ineffective arguer since you think I argued contra the above all day yesterday!

    My argument was that it is not insane to ask the State to refrain from treating religious marriage as a contract, and to get out of the marriage business, since there are other religious “contracts” that the State deigns to ignore (i.e. Baptism).

    But from the perspective of the Church only, I maintain that marriage is not a contract.

  • Zippy says:

    OH:
    since there are other religious “contracts” that the State deigns to ignore (i.e. Baptism)

    However, your own husband has suggested that if a dispute arose between individuals over a baptism it would in fact be treated as a contract. The reason the government “ignores” such “contracts” is because material disputes between individuals don’t generally arise over them. I would suggest, again, that this is because baptism is primarily between an individual and God rather than, like marriage, between two individuals.

    One can hardly say that material disputes between individuals do not arise in marriage.

    What the “get the state out of the marriage business” folks are asking is for the state to deliberately ignore material disputes between individuals which arise – all the time, every day, in every town – as a consequence of marriage-qua-marriage. That isn’t “getting the state out of the marriage business”: it is putting the state very much in the marriage business.

    I’ve suggested elsewhere that the state should decline to enforce usurious contracts. In order to do so though the state has to have a clear, concrete, non-nominalistic idea of what usury is: it has to be in the usury business in precisely the sense that the “get out of the marriage business” folks want the state not to be in the marriage business.

  • […] I’ve suggested before that the government should get out of the usury business, and it is worth asking how that differs from the suggestion that the government should get out of the marriage business (GOOTMB). […]

  • In the nominalist solution a prima facie contract between two or more parties is a “marriage” when the parties say it is a “marriage”; and when it is a “marriage”, the state should decline to enforce any of the contract terms. Any contracts which are enforced must not be marriages.

    I’ve answered on the usury mish-mash post, but I’ll say it here for the sake of completeness: That is not all what I, an admitted proponent of GOOTMB, am saying. I want contracts enforced. Period. Full stop. All of them. By the letter. Enforce, enforce, enforce! Whether its called a “marriage” or a “pumpernickel”…, I want it enforced.

    The purposes of government have turned against the common good in protecting people from the consequences of their bad actions. With regards to no-fault divorce, state involvement in “marriage” becomes a fig leaf for them to engage in social engineering and wealth redistribution which is profoundly damaging to the common good.

    Take away the fig leaf. Just let the government enforce contracts. It would be great if they enforced marriage qua marriage. But if they’re not going to do that, then at least they can enforce contracts qua contracts.

  • Zippy says:

    Steve:
    Thanks for bringing the discussion over here. That’s probably more appropriate than us continuing to clutter up Jim Kalb’s post.

    That is not all what I, an admitted proponent of GOOTMB, am saying. I want contracts enforced. Period. Full stop. All of them. By the letter. Enforce, enforce, enforce! Whether its called a “marriage” or a “pumpernickel”…, I want it enforced.

    I have a new post in the works to address this, because I really think it is the nub of the disagreement.

  • BTW, the Dark Enlightenment-ites are big on this concept of Exit. It is a suprisingly Anglophone phenomenon, whereas Catholics tend to be more continental/collectivist.

    But I think it plays a role in the marriage question. The trouble is that we (Western liberal democracy) have set into motion a world-wide revolution toward ever increasing disorder. It would be great to stop the disorder. But that is not (really not, math is a bitch) going to happen until democracy is overthrown and government of the responsible, by the responsible, and for the responsible is established on earth. As long as the responsible can maintain the right (i.e., the power) of exit, they can always set up shop somewhere… If not, they will be eaten.

    In the likely scenario that escape is the best we can hope for, then official state indifference to traditional rites and covenants, may very much be a positive good (and certainly better than the alternative).

  • Zippy says:

    Steve:
    In the likely scenario that escape is the best we can hope for, then official state indifference to traditional rites and covenants, may very much be a positive good (and certainly better than the alternative).

    That’s true, but there is still a fundamental difference between

    1) Advocating for the government to do X; and

    2) Thinking that we would be better off if government did X rather than Y.

    See here for a fairly recent discussion. The paragraph where I say “You can’t specifically propose the three exceptions without intending the three exceptions as a means to some end: formal cooperation with evil.” is pertinent.

    Evangelium Vitae says of intrinsically unjust laws that:

    In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.

    I see no reason why this would not apply to laws permitting the debasement of marriage through “marriage agnosticism”, in addition to the examples given of abortion and euthanasia. Government agnosticism w.r.t. marriage is similar to government agnosticism w.r.t. abortion and euthanasia, and even though it may be “better” than alternatives in terms of consequences, it is not morally licit to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law.”

    Still, though, I suspect that our more fundamental disconnect right now is over the nature of contracts. A post on that is in the pot boiling right now.

  • […] Nicoloso was kind enough to distill the essence of the “get the government out of the marriage business” position to […]

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