February 6, 2004

Getting Religion

Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 2:16 am

The President of the United States is planning on endorse a constitutional amendment defining marriage to be between a man and a woman. This is clearly because Leviticus 18:22 tells us that man shall not lie with man as he does with woman, for that is an Abomination.

As an upstanding Canadian and staunch ally of our neighbors to the south, I have decided to do my part by streamlining the admendment-drafting process. For the sake of completeness, below is a compiled list of all those things which are likewise declared in Leviticus to be abominations, and which should be included in that amendment:

Consuming any of the following is an abomination:

  • Fat (of the ox, sheep, goat)
  • Blood (Any)
  • Wine, Liquor (in tabernacle)
  • Camel
  • Coney
  • Pork, any kind
  • Shellfish, any other non-fish seafood.
  • Eagle
  • Ossifrage
  • Vulture
  • Raven
  • Owl (any size)
  • Cuckoo
  • Hawk
  • Cormorant
  • Swan
  • Pelican
  • Stork
  • Heron
  • Lapwing
  • Birds that go on all fours (?)
  • Insects, except locust, grasshopper, beetle
  • All animals with paws
  • Weasel
  • Tortoise
  • Mouse
  • Ferret
  • Lizard
  • Chameleon
  • Snails
  • Mole
  • Vegetables grown near any carcasses of the above
  • Anything that dies unassisted

Furthermore, coming into contact with or engaging in any of the following will render you unclean; appropriate redress runs the gamut from exile to death by stoning. Things to avoid generally are:

  • Recent mothers (40 days for male child, 50 days for female child)
  • Lepers
  • Menstruating women
  • Butchers who do not take their animals directly to the tabernacle.
  • Adultery
  • Seeing relatives naked
  • Sleeping with relatives
  • Burning your children as sacrifice to Moloch
  • Sleeping with animals
  • Idols
  • Molten gods
  • Leftovers more than a day old
  • Fully reaped harvests or vineyards
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Profanity
  • Cursing the deaf
  • Tripping the blind
  • Uncircumsized fruit (?)
  • Tattoos
  • Self-mutilation
  • Prostituting one’s daughters
  • Avoiding sabbaths
  • Insufficient reverence
  • Vexing strangers
  • Mismeasuring goods
  • Sleeping with both a mother and her daughter
  • Sex during menstruation
  • Being a wizard
  • Marrying a prostitute
  • Having a flat nose
  • Being a hunchback or dwarf
  • Cataracts

I really do think you can get it all in there.

Good luck with that amendment, and God bless the U.S.A.


  1. These past four years, ever since the “Gore and Bush are really just the same” lunacy, have been one continuous episode of we’re-laughing-because-otherwise-we’d-quietly commit suicide/go postal…

    Comment by Jeff — February 7, 2004 @ 8:52 pm

  2. Hey, I follow a bunch of those!! (Not that I want them in the constitution, mind you)

    Yes, Bush is scary. I’m not laughing – I live here.

    On the original topic: I think there’s a very clear solution to this marriage issue, and it drives me nuts that no-one even mentions it, let alone champions it, in the political arena. It is as follows: The government should not be in the business of defining who can or cannot get married. In fact, the government shouldn’t be able to marry people at all. The government should establish a set of laws related to people who choose to combine their social and economic lives together, be it through getting married or signing a contract or what have you. I.e., “civil” union. But ONLY civil union – hence everyone’s equal. And that way, “marriage” can remain the purview of religions and other social institutions of choice. And of course, the government can chose to allow religious officials to issue these civil union certificates, if they wish, as ONE WAY of creating a “civil union”. But for purposes of law it is this civil union relationship that matters. For purposes of religion, it’s up to different churches and sects to define their own value systems. Government out of religion, religion out of government – case closed.

    Comment by Melanie — February 9, 2004 @ 10:58 am

  3. That’s not a clear solution at all, unless “clearly insane” counts. Everything you say will solve the problem is already precisely the case: the government has established these regulations regarding two people who want to live their social and economic lives together, and people call that union “marriage”.

    First off, the government is entirely justified in regulating who can and can’t get married, for tax reasons if nothing else. I can’t marry eight different women, a herd of cattle or a house plant, for example, and I think we can agree that these are reasonable restrictions. However, the gay-marriage argument is that discrimination based on gender is an unreasonable restriction.

    Second, in Ontario at least, the government delegates the power to marry to the church. This is not the same as recognizing the authority of the church to marry – the state provides that authority. So even when you’re getting married in a church, you’re implicitly seeking state sanction.

    Your suggestion, in practical terms, would require a massive rewrite of the law, change the terms of relationship for anyone who wasn’t married in a church and implicitly affirm as correct the ongoing religious discrimination against homosexuals. And if you think that the people who think that civil unions are a dumb idea are loud and obnoxious now, wait until you try to tell a big chunk of our country’s married couples that they’re no longer going to be “married”, but instead will only be part of a civil union.

    When you could write a one paragraph statute that solves the problem from the other end, saying basically that the state won’t peek into your boxers when you apply for a marriage license, your suggestion looks like a waste of time.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 9, 2004 @ 12:53 pm

  4. Well, yes, it’s true, what I’m primarily suggesting is a change in terminology. In some ways. I actually DO think that one should be able to form a “civil union” of one man and eight women (and if you can find a church that sanctions this and get married, more power to you…). But the cattle and houseplant argument is spurious – there’s no social or economic implications to that from a legal standpoint.

    One important thing about my idea is that it divorces (no pun intended) the SEXUAL implications from the governmental regulation. Two men could have a civil union that’s entirely unrelated to having a sexual relationship (yes, you could do this in a marriage too, but the there are expectations attached to a “marriage” that aren’t necessarily attached to a “civil union”).

    And, please, of course existing civil marriages could be grandfathered in. I don’t think it would take society too long to invent areligious marriage ceremonies if it was that important to those elements of the population. Why involve the government in them, though?

    I think my idea is much deeper than just suggesting that the government not peek into boxers. I think the government shouldn’t have ANY say.

    Of course, I understand that people would scream just as loudly at my idea as every other, cause people are stupid bastards that can’t think outside the box, and don’t really want to live with people who are different from them. But they’re not, cause it isn’t even out there…

    Comment by Melanie — February 10, 2004 @ 12:11 am

  5. I just realized there’s something flawed about what I just said (from my own ability to “think outside the box”). There’s no need to “grandfather” in any civil marriages, nor to “tell” anyone that they’re not married. In my system, you’re married if you think you’re married. For instance, after my upcoming wedding, there will be some people who will think that I am not really married, because for them, a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew is not valid under Jewish law. But I will know I am married, and what those people say doesn’t make me not married. And the marriage license/certificate doesn’t make me married. My belief in the meaning of the ceremony I undertake is what makes me married.

    Comment by Melanie — February 10, 2004 @ 12:21 am

  6. I still think your idea is crazy, and getting crazier. I say again, in addition to requiring the rewrite of enormous bodies of law for the sake of a well-understood semantic distinction between the religious ceremony and the legal entity, it tacitly supports an ongoing social inequality.

    Moreover, you say “My belief in the meaning of the ceremony I undertake is what makes me married.” That may settle the question for you and if your opinion is the only one that can impinge on your life, well, good on ya. But I suspect that you have to live in the world, in a society full of other people. And if that society doesn’t agree with you, there can be serious consequences to that divergence of opinion; for marriage have any significance at all, it absolutely requires some degree of societal sanction and recognition.

    Without that recognition, marriage is no more significant than being roommates.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 11, 2004 @ 12:13 pm

  7. I’m sorry, but that’s just baloney.

    First of all, yes, it would require a major rewrite of law. More important, it would require a major shift in people’s thinking about the purpose of government in our lives. I happen to think both would be very positive steps, but I’m realistic enough to realize it ain’t gonna happen. At least, not any time soon.

    See, I don’t believe that it’s the government’s job to change people’s belief systems. I cringe every time I see a government-sponsored anti-drugs add, especially the marijuana ones, despite being avidly anti-drugs (I don’t even drink much). Make sure people don’t hurt each other – yes. Make sure people don’t discriminate in their hiring practices – probably, yes. Pay for health insurance – actually, yes, I guess it’s my Canadian upbringing (this makes me very left-wing where I currently live). Tell people that they have to accept a certain moral belief system – absolutely not. I think people have the right to be stupid bigoted jerks, as long as I have the right to call them stupid bigoted jerks, and they don’t have the right to hurt me.

    The way to change people’s attitudes about homosexuality and homosexual relationships is to change their attitudes, not to legislate their attitudes away. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of legalizing gay marriage (or more accurately, at least here in Massachusetts, against de-legalizing it), given the current choices. But I worry a bit about the downstream consequences of this – could this precedent be used downstream to take some church to court for violation of civil rights for discriminating against gay people by not sanctioning a gay couple’s wedding? Probably not right now, but maybe some day. That’s the problem with marriage being the domain of the government. Some people and religions think gay relationships are wrong. I think this is a legitimate point of view. If you’re looking for societal sanction, talk to society, not to the guys that build your roads and collect taxes.

    For me the most important part of legislating some form of union for gay people is to give them legal protections in case of breakup, or death or what have you – on children, on property, on money. These are all things that government is (and should be) involved in, and they are the things that really make gay people legally second-class citizens in our society. And they have nothing to do with who is having sex with whom. It’s not sex that gives someone the right to alimony – it’s the social and financial dependent relationship.

    And, in case you thought I was just blowing hot air about the whole civil union with 8 women thing – I know some people in relationships of this type. Most of them are short term sex-based kinds of things, (rather than the live-in, blend your lives together kind that might benefit from a civil union) but then, a lot of homosexual relationships are too. That doesn’t mean those that aren’t shouldn’t be recognized.

    Comment by Melanie — February 11, 2004 @ 3:37 pm

  8. I apologize for the lack of paragraphing in my messages. Apparently, I fail the IQ test.

    Comment by Melanie — February 11, 2004 @ 3:41 pm

  9. Clearly, you have been eating too much uncircumcised three-day-old leftover fruit.

    I think we’re pretty much at a standstill here, since I don’t know what specifically you’re saying is baloney; I agree with most of your stated aims and concerns, but I still don’t think they make the case for your proposal.

    To be clear, as I understand what you’ve written you’re saying that the contractual-relationship nature of what is currently called “marriage” should be renamed “civil union”, and then that “marriage” should be something distinct, defined independently by any religious group that cares to in whatever manner that group chooses.

    I still contend that this is already the way it is, modulo your renaming. The problem is that gay people cannot engage in this civil union, whatever it’s called. The problem is not, nor has it ever been that two men cannot participate in the religious ceremony – it’s that even if they do, they can’t be recognized as married under the law, or gain any of the benefits and protections that being married entails. Conflating the two is an error, regardless of the fact that they answer to the same name. Further, I contend that your solution would be extraordinarily difficult to implement when there are much easier solutions available.

    I really don’t understand your “personal belief in the ceremony” argument or its relevance to the subject, and while I’m trying to ascribe high ideals to it, it is rank with the smell of liberal-humanism.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 11, 2004 @ 4:52 pm

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