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General principles for living in a democracy

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Spartacus View Post
    If the baker would be asked to inscribe anything on the cake in approbation of the wedding, I could see a problem. Otherwise,

    I'm gonna throw this little piece out there as well for your digestion:
    http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclu...ecommendations
    I read the piece. Of course, I'm naive. ( I have a certificate from DE that tells me so) but I think two people of good intent can agree to disagree and respect each other's points of view. If it were me, and I were gay and getting married, I'd accept the florist's position but add that it's a shame her work, and the relationship I have with her can't be represented at this happy moment in my life. I'm sure she'd be a little sad too. Nobody gets to 'win' here.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
      We keep getting the same conversations about various specific issues in civics. You know the ones: homosexuality, marriage for homosexuals, poor beleaguered Christian bakeries, how rotten the 'left' is, how the world is going to hell in a handbasket because Obama, legalisation of pot, why it's the fault of women, why it's the fault of black people ... and on and on.

      I'd like to try something a bit different, and have a conversation about the principles that sub-groups in a pluralistic democracy might use to interact with the larger society. I would politely ask that you keep debate about particular issues out of this thread and instead focus on the overarching principles.

      I think I can see a few different principles in action:

      1. The 'pork' principle. Jews and Muslims do not eat pork. As far as I am aware, they abstain from eating pork, but do not advocate that all society refrain from eating pork. They do not seek legislation to outlaw pork products. This principle seems to be 'My faith requires me not to do X, therefore I don't do X, but you can do what you like'. Perhaps it could be stated: In general, society should be as free as it can be (allowing for public safety and order) but I reserve the right to place further restrictions on myself based on my beliefs.

      I can discern another principle at work, which for no apparent reason, I shall label:

      2. The 'Seer' principle. My faith beliefs are not only of fundamental importance to me, they are necessary for the good functioning of society as a whole. I shall therefore advocate strongly for legislative enacting of my faith beliefs for the whole of society. I shall further consider it persecution if society disengages from my faith beliefs and passes laws that require me to act like any other citizen. (That's putting it a bit strongly, I know, but what can you expect from an old leftie.

      I suspect there are various intermediate principles between what may be two extremes.

      My question is: What ought to be the balance here?
      How did I get dragged into this? First pancreasman it is one thing practice private beliefs, I certainly do not want to force my fellow citizens to take communion for instance. It is another to sanction the killing of unborn children or redefine marriage into meaninglessness. It is one thing to put gays in jail for being gay (which I do not advocate) it is quite another to force a baker by law to bake a cake for a gay wedding. I generally think it is a moral good to allow as much freedom of association in business, public and private life as possible. The left does not, they do want, by law, to conform everyone to their own image. Which you ascribe to when you made the comment about passing "laws that require me to act like any other citizen."
      Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

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      • #18
        Originally posted by seer View Post
        ... it is quite another to force a baker by law to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
        A business should not discriminate in the same way that an ATM does not.
        “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
        “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
        “not all there” - you know who you are

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        • #19
          One of the things I used to admire about America was the sentiment 'I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.' There seemed to be a high value placed on freedom of speech, and with it, I suppose, the right to live life 'your way' as long as you didn't infringe on others rights.

          Nowadays it seems that there is a significant group of people who want o actively police what other people say, and are more than willing to push for the state to enforce their limits on others' speech.
          ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

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          • #20
            Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
            I don't see it as ghettoising your faith, or making it merely a hobby. I think I'm saying you should feel free to act out your faith as vitally as you can as long as you respect that I, who do not share your faith, may have different moral positions on certain issues. Given we live in a pluralistic society, whose morals should triumph? As i've been saying I'm all for limited government imposed morality and then a diversity of moral opinion which is freely acted on by members of groups who hold that morality.
            Well, right, but what I'm saying is that, if laws are often based upon morals and ethics, and Christians are expected to live every aspect of their lives via their faith, and also, that Christianity is a belief system that is intrinsically anti-pluralistic (there is only one path to salvation), should Christians be expected to accommodate a pluralistic society in politics? It doesn't seem to me that there's a way to get around butting heads.

            Personally, I'm sympathetic to the idea of Christianity disassociating itself from politics to some degree, and refocusing on direct evangelism and care of local communities. There's even a bit of a hippy dippy communal-based Christian movement called New Monasticism that is attempting just that. There's a sort of early church practicality to that way of practicing Christianity that I think is pretty noble. I have a few books on the subject (Punk Monk: new monasticism and the ancient art of breathing., Schools for Conversion: 12 marks of a new monasticism), but there's a book that I haven't read yet that came out in 2008, that gets right into what we're discussing called Jesus for president: politics for ordinary radicals. You can read a review of that here: http://www.rca.org/page.aspx?pid=6251

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            • #21
              Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
              I'm suggesting that general society should have a minimalist moral code to which different subgroups may add their own. Now I'm a dreaded liberal and it surprises me that I'm arguing for LESS government influence while the conservatives around me are arguing for MORE.
              This is the characteristic of a nondreadful liberal. The dreaded liberal thinks that everyone should live up to his liberal ideas. Of course to a much lesser degree some conservative fall into this dreadful catagory.
              Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                How about if it's just a cake, and they mention it's for a gay wedding?
                From my point of view it would be silly to refuse, but it should be legal.
                Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                  I don't see it as ghettoising your faith, or making it merely a hobby. I think I'm saying you should feel free to act out your faith as vitally as you can as long as you respect that I, who do not share your faith, may have different moral positions on certain issues. Given we live in a pluralistic society, whose morals should triumph? As i've been saying I'm all for limited government imposed morality and then a diversity of moral opinion which is freely acted on by members of groups who hold that morality.
                  Good response. As a Christian I have every right to campaign for laws that I see fit. A homosexual has the same right. An atheist has the same right as well. Where I see a flaw is that the "dreaded liberals" resort to activist courts to force their ways if they can not win honestly.
                  Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by seer View Post
                    How did I get dragged into this? First pancreasman it is one thing practice private beliefs, I certainly do not want to force my fellow citizens to take communion for instance. It is another to sanction the killing of unborn children or redefine marriage into meaninglessness. It is one thing to put gays in jail for being gay (which I do not advocate) it is quite another to force a baker by law to bake a cake for a gay wedding. I generally think it is a moral good to allow as much freedom of association in business, public and private life as possible. The left does not, they do want, by law, to conform everyone to their own image. Which you ascribe to when you made the comment about passing "laws that require me to act like any other citizen."
                    Seer, I do not think you fit the way you were used. Your position seems to be quite like mine really. You are more strident about it, but not wrong in the way the OP seems to suggest. I am not sure that pan is doing more than using you to provide an extreme example, inaccurately in my eyes.
                    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                      Well, right, but what I'm saying is that, if laws are often based upon morals and ethics, and Christians are expected to live every aspect of their lives via their faith, and also, that Christianity is a belief system that is intrinsically anti-pluralistic (there is only one path to salvation), should Christians be expected to accommodate a pluralistic society in politics? It doesn't seem to me that there's a way to get around butting heads.

                      Personally, I'm sympathetic to the idea of Christianity disassociating itself from politics to some degree, and refocusing on direct evangelism and care of local communities. There's even a bit of a hippy dippy communal-based Christian movement called New Monasticism that is attempting just that. There's a sort of early church practicality to that way of practicing Christianity that I think is pretty noble. I have a few books on the subject (Punk Monk: new monasticism and the ancient art of breathing., Schools for Conversion: 12 marks of a new monasticism), but there's a book that I haven't read yet that came out in 2008, that gets right into what we're discussing called Jesus for president: politics for ordinary radicals. You can read a review of that here: http://www.rca.org/page.aspx?pid=6251
                      I'd agree with most of that. I think Christianity is anti-pluralism. I have great respect for the early monastic movements and the 'hippy' newer ones of communal living.

                      I think Christianity must experience great tension living in a modern pluralistic democracy. Neither pluralism nor democracy are natural friends for Christian living, partly because the origins of Christianity were in a culture where neither existed. At the extremes, Christians must either be working towards a theocracy, or removing themselves from 'the world'. Obviously there are a whole range of other responses in between. Of course there are a whole range of Christians too from arch-conservative to liberal.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                        I believe people should be free to pretty much do as they like as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others. I object to homosexual marriage and should not be obligated to take part in any way. That includes baking cakes and performing wedding ceremonies.
                        The basic problem with this apparently sensible position, is that "the rights of others" is a vast gray area in a pluralistic society, where what people do tends to have ripple effects. Am I interfering with the rights of others if I drive around drunk? Well, only if I collide with them - and most of the time most drunks don't collide. We observe that the probability of an accident rises from some nonzero value to some higher nonzero value after drinking. So we rather arbitrarily decide that that above X% levels, the danger is unacceptably high.

                        The canonical case is probably abortion. In some nations, abortion is mandatory. In others, it is prohibited. In the US, the land of the free, the principle is that each person act according to her own beliefs but not force those beliefs onto others. The counter argument is that the fetus is an "other person" with rights. So we can't allow pregnant women free choice to abort, anymore than we can allow good drivers to speed. When everything we do has potentially some effect on others, where should the line be drawn? How loud is my right to play my guitar, before I infringe on my neighbor's right to quiet? Should I be permitted to engage in dangerous sports (like riding a motorcycle without a helmet), when injuries raise everyone else's insurance premiums?

                        Raised to the heights of idiocy, we find the bans on same-sex marriage -- which clearly injure a small minority while offering no tangible benefit to anyone whatsoever. Yet people are often vehemently opposed, because their right to "the sanctity of their marriage" is somehow threatened. Should the fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying the same rights I have be regarded as fearful enough so that the rights of others should be denied? In more than half the states, that fear (nebulous and intangible as it is) was enough to vote actual state constitutional amendments to protect the majority against the exercise of equal rights by a minority.

                        When I'm able to use the power of civil law to punish those who don't think as I think, even though they DO nothing that can harm me, we have lost our sense of balance. Hopefully not beyond recovery.
                        Last edited by phank; 11-07-2014, 06:42 PM.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                          At the extremes, Christians must either be working towards a theocracy, or removing themselves from 'the world'. Obviously there are a whole range of other responses in between. Of course there are a whole range of Christians too from arch-conservative to liberal.
                          Off topic, but that above must be responded to IMO. Kritarchy aside, Christian anarchists do exist. (Israel's history that the Book of Judges covers is a kritarchy one.)

                          Another thing. I don't recall if I mentioned this principle in this thread before: Our laws should be the same to everyone. So, Jim Crow laws should not be enforced, for example.
                          The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                          [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                            Off topic, but that above must be responded to IMO. Kritarchy aside, Christian anarchists do exist. (Israel's history that the Book of Judges covers is a kritarchy one.)

                            Another thing. I don't recall if I mentioned this principle in this thread before: Our laws should be the same to everyone. So, Jim Crow laws should not be enforced, for example.
                            I don't know what Jim Crow laws are. I'm Australian. We have many crows here and as far as I am aware enjoy equal rights with other birds.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                              Another thing. I don't recall if I mentioned this principle in this thread before: Our laws should be the same to everyone. So, Jim Crow laws should not be enforced, for example.
                              Who is "everyone"? Many of our laws single out categories of people regarded as exceptions to this principle -- whether those categories be children, or members of the military (with their own UCMJ), or women (men don't get abortions), or felons (who lose rights like voting and owning guns).

                              Now, the general idea is that these exceptions are reasonable. And as always, there is often violent debate about where reasonable ends.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                                I don't know what Jim Crow laws are. I'm Australian. We have many crows here and as far as I am aware enjoy equal rights with other birds.
                                Jim Crow laws in the US enforced racial segregation. They are abolished, but now we struggle with "Joe Queer laws".

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