Tobias Haller responds to Matthew Grayshon’s Fulcrum article on Same Sex Marriage

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The third section goes awry on the usual special pleading about procreation, including the caveat that it is talking about the "norm" and leaving to one side infertile, elderly, and other couples who do not fit that norm. The problem in this should be obvious, yet it is a logical slip made again and again on that side of the debate: you cannot argue from a norm with exceptions when we are dealing with something exceptional, and when there is an uneven application of the very principle at hand to allow some exceptions and not others. If procreation is essential to marriage, then no one who cannot procreate should be "married" (but allowed to have a "union").

The final section is the most troubling both theologically and morally. It concludes by asserting, "It is not possible to both affirm the incarnation and assert gay marriage." On the contrary, it is not only possible, I have seen it; in fact I've done it!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted September 28, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. brian_in_brooklyn wrote:

The third section goes awry on the usual special pleading about procreation, including the caveat that it is talking about the “norm” and leaving to one side infertile, elderly, and other couples who do not fit that norm. ...you cannot argue from a norm with exceptions when we are dealing with something exceptional, and when there is an uneven application of the very principle at hand to allow some exceptions and not others. If procreation is essential to marriage, then no one who cannot procreate should be “married” (but allowed to have a “union”).

Thank you, Father Haller.
(and, of course, all of this has little relevance to arguments about the question usually discussed: the status of civil marriage.)

September 28, 2:05 pm | [comment link]
2. driver8 wrote:

logical slip made again and again on that side of the debate: you cannot argue from a norm with exceptions when we are dealing with something exceptional, and when there is an uneven application of the very principle at hand to allow some exceptions and not others

Father Haller is surely a gifted chap but it’s not obvious to me to which logical slip he is referring.

1. One can argue from a norm with exceptions, in considering its application to that which itself rare. To coin a phrase: I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.

2. Permitting some exceptions to a general rule and not others (if that is what is intended by “uneven application”) needn’t imply any logical failure.

September 28, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
3. J. Champlin wrote:

The church has been identified with the practice of marriage from its beginning.  Most of the exceptions that Fr. Haller points to—especially couples who cannot, or will not, have children and the ready acceptance of divorce and multiple marriages—are products of the last fifty years or so.  For the better or the worse of it, the church has accommodated itself to those exceptions—I say this with regret, but not self-righteously.  However, Fr. Haller’s argument comes down to this:  given the accommodations, we now redefine the institution in principle on the basis of the exceptions rather than the norm.  Marriage is to be defined by the love between the partners rather than by fidelity across the generations and unity in difference.  Cut through the tedious and sarcastic logic-chopping that is his style and that’s what we are asked to do.

September 29, 10:08 am | [comment link]
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