Introducing Friend Zone

main_logo_solid_bgI’ve been working on a new website for the last few weeks called Friend Zone. The idea has been brewing for a while now, but it’s something which I’ve only felt able to put into practice recently.

Here’s a video of me explaining what the site is about:

Why don’t you take a look?

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Sex is burning the house down #MeToo

Metoo

Sex is like fire. In the fireplace it keeps us warm. Outside the fireplace it burns down the house. Ray Ortlund.

Apologies if I’ve reminded you of a song by the Kings of Leon (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself fortunate). I came across the quote above recently and I found it immensely helpful. Sex is a powerful thing – within the confines of marriage, it is contained and we enjoy its benefits. Outside of marriage, it destroys everything. This is exactly what I believe we are beginning to see as a society.

I’ve been reading a book called Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy by sociologist Mark Regnerus. It’s a fascinating – albeit slightly terrifying – read. Then, yesterday, I read an insightful article about the #MeToo movement, entitled: “Sex was Never Safe: Why Consent is Not Enough in the Post-Weinstein Era.”

They have helped to bring home to me just how lost our society is about sexual ethics. The Regnerus book is about how sex has become ‘cheap’: in an era where fewer people are choosing to get married – and those who do get married do so later on in life – there are very few barriers to sex. One of the things which struck me most was research about how many people have sex on the first date – in fact, Regnerus theorised that having sex is often the thing which causes people to move from fairly casual dating to more formally being in a relationship.

The whole book simply worked to underscore for me the fact that so much of our society is now based on a fairly consumer attitude to sex: people ‘try out’ different sexual partners, waiting for the one who will bring them most personal satisfaction. Sex is seen as a commodity, not something sacred which is to be held within the confines of marriage. Easy access to pornography has had a big impact. And it goes on.

The upshot of all this is that our society seems to massively value sexual freedom – the search for personal sexual fulfilment, with very little in the way to channel or restrict that freedom.

Then, we have the #MeToo movement. A lot has been written about the #MeToo movement, so I’m not going to rehash all that here. In many ways I can sympathise with it. But I think Joel Looper, author of the article I linked, picks up on something significant – is there an inherent contradiction with sexual freedom and #MeToo? His argument is that if we want to solve the problem which #MeToo is highlighting, this will logically entail the end of the Sexual Revolution. He says:

The Sexual Revolution was possible because women had ready access to birth control. Not long before, only men could sleep around without the fear of becoming pregnant. By the 1960s women could too. Among heterosexuals at least, the freeing of women to enjoy sex without that pesky natural consequence of the sex act also freed men. Sex became, in economic terms, a buyer’s marker. It was easier for both men and women, but especially for men, to obtain. The average age of marriage in the United States in 1970 was twenty-three for men and twenty for women, but by 2015 it was twenty-nine for men and twenty-seven for women. Marriage was no longer even typically a precondition for sex. By the mid-1990s, having a couple partners before finding the “right one” had become normal, perhaps almost normative in most parts of the West.

This is exactly what Mark Regnerus’ research was highlighting. Sex has become cheap, and is no longer seen as needing to happen within a committed relationship. This is the fruit of the Sexual Revolution. Although things didn’t change overnight, what we see today is the logical consequence of what happened back in the 60s.

The only value we see today is consent. That is, so long as the sex is happening between two (or more) consenting adults – then no problem. One-night-stand? Fine, so long as it’s consensual. Sex on the first date? Fine, as long as it’s consensual. What the #MeToo movement is highlighting is non-consensual sexual abuse of various different stripes (some more serious, some less so). But what action is needed to change anything?

What have we learned? What is the take-home value of #MeToo? Is it that men need more education? That society must be more vigilant in punishing men who commit sexual crimes? No. It is that consent does not constitute robust enough criteria for sexual intercourse. All the education in the world will not change the male libido. It is hardwired into men. Sure, most men are trustworthy most of the time. But many men are somewhat untrustworthy some of the time, and a few men (or is it far more than a few?) are downright dangerous. Birth control and at least sixty years of open discussion of sex have not changed this.

The point is that consent is not enough. Consent will never be enough to prevent people doing things they shouldn’t sexually. It can’t be changed with education, or by a movement on social media. A few months back I questioned whether education was enough to end sexual harrassment in schools (short answer: no). So what can be done?

Reestablishing the connection between marriage and sex is only part of the solution since – after all, women are sometimes assaulted by strangers and other times by their own husbands. We must have the cultural memory to recall that until quite recently sex, again in Berry’s words, was “everybody’s business.” The wider community had an interest in what went on in people’s bedrooms, even between “two consenting adults,” because people could be harmed behind those bedroom walls. They are today more than ever. Relationships are shattered behind those walls, worlds crumble, and often enough it is the male libido that is the destroyer of worlds. Anyone who denies this, whether in theory or practice, is living a fantasy.

Reconnecting sex and marriage – not, as the article says, the whole solution – yet it is part of it. Sex is not simply about personal freedom and individual choice. It’s not about individuals pursuing happiness, or “two consenting adults”. But sex has a wider scope – it is part of society. Society has an interest in what two people do behind closed doors – sex matters to more than just the two individuals concerned. Of course, as the author states, if we accept this – then it will spell the end of the Sexual Revolution.

As a society, it seems we have a choice to make: either we carry on as we are and pursue sexual freedom – which will lead to the kind of things the #MeToo movement is protesting, as well as other side effects such as driving men and women further apart. This is the way we are heading at the moment, and, if I may return to the quote I started with, we are beginning to see how hot the fire can burn.

Or – as a society, we realise that sex matters beyond two consenting individuals, that #MeToo is a symptom of a sex-obsessed society which cannot be solved simply by education, and that marriage is the only real solution we have (or at least, a nonnegotiable part of the solution).

One of the things I’m  often struck by is how everything would be better if people simply listened to what God wanted us to do in the first place. Sex is designed as a wonderful gift from God, to be used within the context of a lifelong union of a man and a woman, but outside of that it is immensely harmful. Peter says in his first letter: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). I think it’s possible to see how our sinful desires, in this case sexual desire, wages war against us. We desire to find fulfilment in sex, which leads many people to shopping around for the best sexual partner available to them. But the irony is, they do not find fulfilment. The only fulfilment is found in obedience to God, in line with the way that he has made us.

The Bible and (same-sex) marriage: Cutting through to the root issue

Marriage
Image by Sabtastic

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I have blogged quite a few times about marriage, and in particular same-sex marriage. You can see my previous posts under the “marriage” tag. Anyway, it seems we are still talking about marriage: the debate has simply moved from society – where same-sex marriage is now a reality – to the church.

General Synod recently spent a few days finishing the two-year-long ‘Shared Conversations’ process in which the CofE has been trying to find a way forward on same-sex marriage. As part of that, a number of books have been released and a number of people have written quite passionately in support of changing the church’s current teaching. These include ‘Amazing Love’ by Andrew Davison (reviewed here and here), as well as ‘Journeys in Grace and Truth’ by Jayne Ozanne (reviewed here and here). What is notable about both of these books is that they claim to be orthodox Christian, Biblical accounts of why we should change the church’s teaching.

If you read the books, and look at the discussion it generates on Ian Paul’s blog (and elsewhere), the discussion often focusses on peripheral issues. It can be very difficult to digest what is actually going on and get to the heart of the issue. I’ve had an interest in this issue for a long time now, and I wanted to write to try and outline the issue at the heart of why I believe marriage can only be defined as the lifelong union of a man and a woman.

It’s easy to get lost in the details, but to my mind you can boil down the issue to one basic root issue, which is this:

What does the Bible say positively about marriage?

It is sometimes claimed that Jesus said nothing about same-sex relationships; however, he did say something about marriage. The Pharisees asked a question about divorce, and he replied with this answer (this is from Mark 10):

‘It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,’ Jesus replied. ‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female”. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

So when Jesus was asked a question about marriage, he goes back to creation – he takes us back to Genesis 1-2 and to God’s original intention for mankind.

What does this teach us about marriage? Marriage was intended from the very beginning of creation to be a permanent relationship (hence why Jesus gave this answer to a question about divorce) – but he also says that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. In marriage, with apologies to the Spice Girls (and to you for putting that thought in your head), two become one.

Some people claim that Genesis 1-2 is only about a covenant commitment – that the male-female character of marriage is purely accidental. But given Jesus’ words here – the male-female nature of marriage comes across more clearly than being a lifelong union, doesn’t  it? If you argue that the male-female nature of marriage is purely accidental, then so is everything else about marriage from Genesis 1-2.

And this is the issue. Marriage becomes entirely what the reader thought it was before they looked at the Bible.

Jeffrey John once wrote a book “Permanent, Stable, Faithful” in which he argued that same-sex marriage was in accord with the Bible – so long as those relationships exhibited the three values of permanence, stability and faithfulness.

The thing is, where do those values come from? As we have just seen, the Bible doesn’t say “marriages must be permanent, stable, and faithful”. Let’s take permanence, for example: the Bible doesn’t say “marriages should be permanent”, but it does say, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”. So permanence is only defined in the context of a male-female relationship.

Similarly with faithfulness. The Bible says, “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb 13:4). But what is meant by faithfulness? Faithfulness, again, is defined in the sense of not becoming “one flesh” with another man or woman (1 Cor 6:16 – it’s interesting that when lawyers were drafting same-sex marriage legislation, consummation could not be defined and so was left out). Faithfulness is, to put it bluntly, not having sex with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse.

Some people define faithfulness as ‘not sleeping with someone else without telling your partner’. In other words, ‘open relationships’ can embody faithfulness – depending on how you define it. I can well imagine someone who had such a view reading Heb 13:4 and it fitting in with their preconceived ideas – because they had an idea of what faithfulness was rather than letting the Bible define it.

This brings me to my final point. When you abstract your understanding of marriage from what the Bible actually says, marriage can become virtually anything. Almost every argument for same-sex marriage would also work for, say, polyamorous marriage. Or incest. Or ‘open’ relationships. Or time-limited marriages. And so on: the point is that it’s up to you and how you want to define it. Not the Bible.

That’s the root issue here: either we let the Bible be God’s Word and define what marriage is, or we crowbar the Bible into supporting same-sex marriage and opening the door for virtually anything. Don’t be fooled by fancy words, follow the logic and see where it leads you.

Brexit and the decline of Christian understanding

The last few days I have felt particularly ashamed to be British. Not because the country voted to leave the EU, but because of the backlash following it. I appreciate that many people felt deeply unhappy with the result – it’s natural and understandable. Many people believed that leaving the EU was the wrong decision. No problem. People thought the opposite and felt equally strongly about it.

No, what got to me instead was some of the mocking characterisation of ‘Brexiteers’ – xenophobic, racist and ignorant “Little Englanders”.

A few years ago, in one of the comedian Chris Addison’s shows, he made the point that ‘Eurosceptic’ was wrong – because ‘sceptic’ implied that people had actually bothered to think about it. I think this is a good example of the kind of tone used on Facebook and the like recently: not always offensive, but generally implying that those who voted leave were lesser people, somehow.

It really makes me think of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

This seems to me to get to the heart of a lot of what is going on with moaning about Brexiteers. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – racists, xenophobes, ignoramuses – and especially not like this Brexiteer. I voted for Remain and I don’t want to sacrifice the futures of all our children for no good reason.”

The other night I had something of an epiphany: it seems to me that people who moaned about Brexiteers actually believed they were morally superior. It’s easy to treat someone else badly when you believe they are morally in the wrong (and you are in the right) – after all, they deserved it, right?

I think this attitude is linked with the decline of Christian understanding and morality in our culture. I believe that people growing up in decades past would have grown up with the language of the Book of Common Prayer – believing that mankind are “miserable offenders” and “there is no health in us”. Even people who didn’t regularly go to church would have had something of this attitude ingrained.

This has a big effect on how we see other people: if we believe that all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – then if someone else gets something wrong, something of a moral nature, then they are still fundamentally no different to us: all are human beings, all are flawed, and the only hope is the grace of God which cannot be earned – only accepted.

On the other hand, if there is no Christian understanding of humanity, then I think you end up with what we’ve just seen: people who think differently are actually perceived as morally deficient in some way. Worse than that, they are wilfully morally deficient. They should try harder and stop being morally deficient, and in the meantime we’ll treat them with disdain and contempt until they realise how morally deficient they are and change.

I wrote about this in November last year when I talked about Bigotry and legalism in our culture. That was in the context of same-sex marriage, but I think the same could be said of Brexit.

If we want to learn to disagree well, I think we have to recover a truly Christian ethic: those on different sides of a divide like this are both human, both made in the image of God, and yet both flawed. Neither is infallible. Both are in equal need of God’s mercy. If by the grace of God we are able to see others in that way, perhaps we’ll be able to make positive progress. But until then I fear for the direction of political discourse in this country.

Cathy Warwick and Pro-Choice Logic

Baby LydiaCathy Warwick has been in the news lately – she signed the Royal College of Midwives up to support a legal campaign for the removal of abortion limits in the UK. (Currently, if a woman undergoes an abortion outside of the law, it is a criminal offence.) This would effectively allow abortion to happen up until birth for any reason. You can read a midwife’s response here, see the links through to the original story.

This has raised – once again – the question of abortion. Many people see abortion as a woman’s rights – a foetus is simply a few cells connected to a woman, and having an abortion is no more morally problematic than having your appendix out.

The fact that a human life has to die is basically irrelevant: it is justifiable because at that point in the foetal development, the foetus is not a ‘person’. Notice here that I am using medical terms like ‘foetus’ rather than words we might normally use such as ‘baby’, ‘child’ or ‘mother’. This is because it’s important to understand that a foetus is not a baby – a baby implies a person, whereas a foetus is simply a medical term for a living organism inside a womb. A foetus is a group of cells; a baby or child is a person. A foetus cannot feel pain, has no understanding of itself as a separate entity, and so on – it’s not a person and so can be terminated at will.

I think this line of reasoning is deeply flawed and troublesome for a number of reasons. Chiefly, I think the problem is that it makes an arbitrary concept of ‘personhood’ the key factor in whether it is right to terminate life or not. Who decides what is a person and what is not? There’s a good question.

There was a very helpful article posted today, Why abortion makes sense. The authors make the point that such dehumanising has been the stock in trade of just about every genocidal regime throughout history. Once you have determined that ‘they’ are not human, you can exterminate them with a clear conscience. In fact, more than that, it is morally right and proper for them to be killed.

Once life is valued not for the sake of being life but because of some arbitrary concept we impose, then it can be redefined at will. The whole article is worth reading and I’d suggest having a look through it.

Coming back to Cathy Warwick – I think her position is interesting because it’s entirely consistent. Once you define a foetus as a nonperson, then where do you draw the line? Isn’t 24 weeks simply arbitrary? And then, if you’re going to allow abortion up to full term – what’s the difference between a 37 week child inside and outside the womb? Not much. This is why some ethicists have argued for post-birth abortion (an article published in the British Journal of Medical Ethics, by the way, not some hack rag). They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

I think most people see through those kind of arguments, which is why the reaction against Cathy Warwick has been so strong. And yet, many people seem unwilling to concede that the position is entirely logical once the premises of abortion have been granted in the first place. Once you say that abortion is OK, any lines you draw are essentially arbitrary ones.

The BBC recently reported that abortion rates are stable – there were 185,824 in 2015. Nearly 200,000 abortions in one year – that’s incredible. That  statistic makes me feel nauseous. And yet we as a society brush this away because we are ‘pro-women’.

In reality, I think many women feel uncomfortable with abortion – from the article I posted at the start, an Angus Reid poll in 2012 found that 59% of women favoured a reduction in time limits for abortion (i.e. decreasing from 24 weeks). Only 2% favoured an extension.

In the name of being ‘pro-choice’, it turns out that a lot of women are actually pressured into abortion: if a woman falls pregnant unexpectedly, and in inconvenient circumstances, then all of a sudden abortion becomes the most attractive option for everyone except the woman concerned. Many women find they are pressured into it, simply because it is what is expected. Some choice.

All in all, I struggle with our society which permits what I think is essentially state sanctioned murder. However, I hope that Cathy Warwick’s comments will raise the profile of this issue – abortion is usually kept pretty hush-hush. Talking about it, rather than simply brushing the whole thing under the carpet, is a step in the right direction.

Transgender and the new reality

  Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen it to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This is one of my favourite bits from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. It nails for me the absurdity of some logical reasoning: you can apply as much logic as you like, but unless it aligns with reality then it’s worthless. I love the idea of mankind proving that black is white – and thus getting run over on the next zebra crossing. As if such a thing could happen…

Which neatly brings me to the thorny issue of reality and our minds. Some diseases, such as dementia or schizophrenia, can cause a person to suffer delusions – to believe things which are not actually true – that is, what their minds believe does not match up with reality. At the same time, other conditions include believing that one’s birth sex is different – that one was ‘born in the wrong body’, so to speak. Reality does not match up with one’s internal state. This is known as Gender Dysphoria. The current action of the NHS in such a case is to cautiously move forward with things like hormone therapy, and even surgery to permanently transition. (Since 2004, the government also allow sex on a birth certificate to be changed, as happened with Rachel Mann, for example).

In these cases, the transition – although it may be permanent – is only really a ‘patch-up’ job. Scientifically speaking, it is currently impossible (and perhaps will be forever impossible) to transition from being a man to a woman or vice versa. Every cell in the human body declares that we are male or female. A blood test on a man who has transitioned to a woman, for example, will still yield the result of a man. Someone who begins hormone treatment will need to be on that treatment indefinitely – i.e. for the rest of their lives. Treatment, such as it is, cannot alter reality.

Why do I say all this? Why am I stepping out into this delicate and precarious minefield? Consider the case of Germaine Greer: she recently made comments – in her usual, ahem, ‘robust’ way – that chopping off your penis did not make you a woman. Her comments were branded ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘misogynistic’, and a group of people petitioned to prevent her scheduled lecture at Cardiff University from taking place. Greer has subsequently been demonised by activists, calling her – no prizes for guessing – a “bigot”.

But now the government has got in on the act. The Women and Equalities Committee has just published the results of a transgender inquiry, which states that trans people are being failed by the NHS and many other parts of society. As Melanie Phillips writes, the results of this inquiry will actually have the biggest effect on children:

Trans and gender issues, says the committee, should be taught in schools as part of personal, social and health education.

We can all predict what will happen. Gender fluidity will be actively promoted as just another lifestyle choice. Under the commendable guise of stopping the minute number of transgender children being bullied, the rest of the class will be bullied into accepting the prescribed orthodoxy — that gender is mutable, and any differentiation in value between behaviour or attitudes is bigoted and prohibited.

This comes in a week where teenagers in a school in Brighton were given a (government-sponsored) survey with 23 options for gender, including terms like ‘Gender fluid’, ‘Genderqueer’, ‘Tri-gender’, ‘In the middle of boy and girl’ and so on. It’s truly staggering.

What worries me about all this is that, under pressure from certain vocal activist groups, an alternative vision of reality is being foisted upon some of the most vulnerable people in our society – children and teenagers. Scientists have known for some time about ‘neuroplasticity’ – the way the brain can rewire itself. This is none more so than in the brains of teenagers, for example pornography can have a much bigger effect on a adolescent brain than it can an adult:

Between the ages of 12 and 20, the human brain undergoes a period of great neuroplasticity. The brain is in a malleable phase during which billions of new synaptic connections are made. This leaves us vulnerable to the influence of our surroundings and leads our brains to be “wired” around the experiences and information that we receive during that time period.

Anyone who’s ever been through puberty will be able to testify – growing up as a teenager is a difficult time of life. It’s confusing, lots of changes are happening, and you are in real need of guidance. It seems to me that presenting teenagers with a list of 23 gender options will actually exacerbate the issue, rather than helping. Teaching children and young people that there are a plurality of gender options will make what is a confusing and difficult time even more confusing and difficult.

There have been a number of cases recently where very young children have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (on charity claims up to about 80 children per year) – and the response is sometimes to administer powerful puberty-blocking drugs. I simply cannot believe this is the right response to these circumstances.

There’s a phrase from the Bible which has passed into our English language: “they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). It worries me that this is what’s happening with our society today: I think we are sowing seeds in young lives which we’re not going to see the fruit of for a generation – but one day we will reap the whirlwind. 

Gender Dysphoria is undoubtedly a real phenomenon and I feel deepest sympathy for anyone who suffers with it. But I think our government is very wrong in its solution. I would encourage anyone who has GD to find a way to feel comfortable in their own body, however hard that might be: to engage in transitioning from one sex to the other might seem to be the solution, but in reality it often does not deliver what it promises.

From the Melanie Phillips article I quoted above:

In fact, gender fluidity itself creates victims. Professor Paul McHugh is the former chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins hospital in the US. In the 1960s this pioneered sex-reassignment surgery — but subsequently abandoned it because of the problems it left in its wake. Most young boys and girls who seek sex reassignment, McHugh has written, have psychosocial issues and presume that such treatment will resolve them. ‘The grim fact is that most of these youngsters do not find therapists willing to assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions. Rather, they and their families find only “gender counsellors” who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions.’

In fact, there is a whole website devoted to the issues around sex change regret and examples of people who have made the transition ‘back again’, so to speak.

In conclusion, it seems that the government has bought into a particular agenda and understanding of gender – one which is controversial at best. But, worse than this, the new gender orthodoxy is not open to questioning – as the case of Germaine Greer demonstrates. And it troubles me that our society, once again, is sleepwalking into the whirlwind of its own creation as our children are raised in a world where desires can override reality itself.

Further reading

I’ve linked to a few pieces in the post above, but here are a few other articles which I’ve found helpful:

Note on comments: I have decided to disable comments for this post. If you would like to reply to me, I welcome feedback via other channels. I might publish and engage with feedback if it is constructive and respectful.

Gay marriage and the power of stories

Image by Sabtastic
Image by Sabtastic

Although same-sex marriage has been legal in the UK now for nearly a year, I still think it’s worth reflecting on the road which brought us to where we are. In fact, I think it’s probably good to reflect on what happened with the benefit of hindsight.

One thing which is clearer to me now than it was at the time was just how powerful a story can be. The pro same-sex marriage argument would often present itself using the story of someone who wanted to get married. I remember reading and seeing various different stories about a young man or woman, who grew up dreaming of a white wedding, dreaming of a family – only to have those dreams shattered because gay people were unable to marry. Now, whatever your position on marriage – you have to admit, in our culture today, that is a powerful story. A story so powerful, in fact, that I think most people bought into it.

By contrast, those who were (and are) against same-sex marriage – and I include myself in that camp – had nothing really to compete. That’s not to say that the arguments weren’t sound: I still believe what was said about marriage two years ago (see my blog posts on “What is marriage?”: part one, part two) – but I think by and large people didn’t understand because they didn’t have anything to relate to. Quite a few people who I interacted with simply could not see how same-sex marriage would make any difference at all, and abstract arguments didn’t really help. The argument was mostly won (or lost, depending on how you see it) at the emotional level. Continue reading