Friday, June 6, 2008

To Jesse

Thanks, Jesse, for your response. I think that you made many good points which ought to be addressed. I hope that this indicates that I am both willing and eager to address these issues with open ears, eyes, mind, and heart.

It is critical that a conversation revolves around a mutually agreeable criterion or criteria. I’ve learned that it’s important to “operationally define the terms,” as one of my professors always says, to ensure that we’re all on the same page, not talking about completely different issues using the same terminology.

One reason I started this blog was to improve my writing. I believe that in writing frequently, and in addressing important and even divisive issues, I will improve my ability to put forward a logically sound argument for my personal beliefs. I gratefully welcome any and all illustrations of weaknesses in my logic.

You mentioned a concern that “what's particularly dangerous about persuasive and illogical rhetoric like this is that most folks who agree with you and read this won't catch that slip(ery slope).” From the very outset, I have been concerned that readers would categorically accept everything that I say without analyzing all the implications of the lines of logic that I use. Thus, I appreciate useful feedback such as yours. And, I consider your response to epitomize civility and mutual respect despite the differences in opinion we may have had or currently have.

As you pointed out, the examples used in my slippery-slope logic were a little weak. Both real-life examples were drawn from instances which were non-consensual. What I failed to pose was the possibility that some people may approach similar scenarios consensually.

We live in an age when medical technology can provide the means whereby any two consenting individuals could have sexual relations without any risk of offspring, thus preventing any possible birth defects. Some would possibly argue that traditional systems of societal morals concerning incest are now obsolete because of these advances in medical technology. Should we strike incest laws from the books as they relate to consensual relationships?

Or how about the particularly precocious child or adolescent, what if he or she views his or her participation in a marital relationship to be completely consensual? What if the pedophile (as we now classify him or her) happens to find a child or adolescent who consents to marriage? Is that person still a pedophile? My question is why does the law maintain certain regulations for marriage at all? Why stop at gay marriage: Wouldn’t that be discriminatory towards all these other potential special-interest groups?

As to my series of rhetorical questions, I consider these some of the most important questions of life. My personal criterion which provides the foundation upon which I try to answer these questions comes down to a single point: my belief in God. And here is my line of logic which flows from my belief in God.

I believe that God is the creator and ruler of the universe. As such, I believe that God is the source of all law and morality. I believe that we are literally God’s children and that we are accountable to Him, that God loves us, and that He communicates His laws and morals to His children via revelation. One avenue of revelation is through prophets. The concept of prophets of God implies an authority to speak in God’s name. We’ve discussed the issue of authority before. The issue isn’t whether the prophet is a man or woman, the issue is whether an individual claiming to be a prophet has God’s authorization or not. If you knew that there was a God, and that someone was truly His authorized prophet, wouldn’t you listen?

People I consider authorized prophets, both ancient and modern, have taught God’s morality, which is abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity after; chastity in thought, word, and deed both before and after marriage; marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God; abuse of any type is an abomination and an affront to God; and repentance is possible for anyone, but is made possible only because God’s Son, Jesus Christ, satisfied the immutable, eternal, and infinite law of justice, which states that any soul in violation of God’s will is unclean, and that no unclean thing can enter into God’s presence because He is clean.

The grounds on which I base my arguments submit that God has a plan for His children that is designed for their happiness. If we pursue the path that leads to that happiness, then we will find it. And what is that path? Keeping the commandments of God. But how do I know which are His commandments? By finding the authorized prophets and listening to their messages from God.

Answers to the individual rhetorical questions will have to wait for future posts. But I have addressed some of them in previous posts: On the Existence of God; A Day to Celebrate God-Given Rights; The Consequences of Atheism; A Few Thoughts, Some Not Enjoyable; and the text that I borrowed from my wife, Determinism, Individualism, and Relativism.

To better understand some of my religious views which guide my thoughts on morality, consider the implications of other previous posts: How to Receive and Recognize Answers from God; The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles; Jesus Christ and Atonement; and God the Father.

Now, I should address the concern that my post incites hatred. That was not the intent at all. I do not believe that anyone is deserving of hatred, and anyone who would misconstrue my words to justify hatred toward any group is wrong. I so emphatically stated at the end of my post that I do not hate homosexuals because it seems, and I could be wrong on this, that too often in our society if someone states his or her strong views about this issue, he or she is branded as a hate-filled bigot. When did ideological disagreement equate hatred? We can agree to disagree if necessary. We can even work against each other but be agreeable in the process. We don’t actually have to harbor hate in order for there to be a legitimate disagreement or open discussion of the same. Thus, the individual who states, as you did, "Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is merely reflecting what he or she sees in God as I presented Him earlier: that He is clean, that no unclean thing can dwell with Him, that He wants us to dwell with Him because He is our Father and we are His children, therefore He gives commandments and institutes laws designed to ensure our happiness with Him in His presence if we follow them and are made clean by virtue of Jesus Christ’s atoning grace.

Just briefly, the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have addressed the issue of abuse. One masterfully presented talk on this serious issue was made by Elder Richard G. Scott, an Apostle, in April 2008. You can find the full text of his talk here.

I don’t think that I’ve even scratched the surface, but I’ll stop here for now. I hope that we (all) can continue to civilly consider these issues. They are that important.

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