Thursday, August 27, 2015

Catholic Stand: Why Do We Still Expect Marital Fidelity?

The fallout from the Ashley Madison “data dump” has only begun. Much of the media attention has focused on B-list celebrity Josh Duggar, from his parents’ broken hearts to the inevitable amateur long-distance psychoanalysis and condemnations of the purity movement. However, sidebars do go into the hundreds of federal employees who have accessed the site from their offices, themarriages dissolving as suspicious spouses do their checking, and the expected questions about the morality of offering such a service.

The Oddity of Fidelity

It’s hard to feel any sympathy for either Avid Life Media, the owner of the website, or its many millions of subscribers. In every culture, which has some form of marriage, some definition of adultery obtains; the practice is largely frowned upon, in some cases incurring sanctions ranging from potential civil penalties to death. The oddity in our culture is not that so many people cheat, but rather that some expectation of fidelity is still kept, even after the sweeping changes wrought by the sexual revolution.

On the one hand, according to research published earlier this year, 22% of men and 14% of women have strayed at least once in their married lives; 74% of men and 68% of women admit they would cheat if they knew they would never get caught. On the other hand, the Gallup 2013 Values and Beliefs Survey recorded that 91% of Americans held affairs to be morally wrong, and that the number of people who thought it was acceptable had actually dropped 1% from 2001 to 2013. The most trenchant comment comes from Hugo Schwyzer: “We’ve become more willing to embrace diverse models of sexual self-expression even as we’ve become ever more intolerant of hypocrisy and the human frailty that makes hypocrisy almost inevitable.”

The “why” of cheating is the source of endless speculationrationalization, and research. Unfortunately, a lot of the speculation ends up at the conclusion, “Monogamy is a myth” … even inarticles which claim to be premissed on established scientific fact. However, such a sweeping conclusion leaves behind an unexplained fact: if monogamy is a myth, in the sense of being a fiction or false knowledge, then surely the oddity is not the rate of infidelity, but rather the outrageously high rates of marital fidelity.

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Inconsistency Fallacy

A particular informal argument pattern, which I call the inconsistency fallacy, is becoming more common in culture-war battles. The inconsistency fallacy goes something like this:

  • Advocate A holds position on policy p1, which (presumably) has quality q.
  • However, Advocate A also holds positions on policies p2, p3, etc., which are not-q or anti-q.
  • Either q or not-q should be supported.  (Implied premiss.)
  • Therefore, Advocate A must give up his position(s) on either p1 or on p2, p3, etc.

Here’s a paraphrase of one variant I saw earlier this evening: “If you don’t want to sell food for a gay wedding because you don’t want to support sodomy, then you shouldn’t support gluttony by selling to fat people; you shouldn’t sell to divorcées, or to thieves, or to ....” Another variant I’ve seen: “If you’re against abortion, you should also be against capital punishment; you should be against hunting; you should be a vegan; you should be yadda-yadda-yadda ....”

It’s implied, and often stated, that if you don’t resolve the apparent inconsistency by abandoning position p1, then you, sir/madam/small child, are a hypocrite, and we therefore need not pay attention to position p1. Although the inconsistency fallacy shares some of the features of the red herring and the abusive ad hominem, it’s best classified as a sub-species of the false dilemma.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Thanks from the Kingdom of God Sisters! Let’s do it again!

Image © Anthony S. Layne.
Hey, folks! We got a “thank you” card from Kim Brown of the Kingdom of God Sisters!

You’ll remember that the KGS is the start-up second-order religious group on whose behalf I wrote last month. (I also kicked in a little of my own money.) Here’s what the future Sr. Kim — or perhaps Mother Kim? — has to say:

Dear Anthony Lane [sic],

Thank you for your gift to KGS and for your promotion on Twitter. Please keep us in your prayers as we strive to do God’s will & know you are in mine.

God is love: let the Kingdom know,
Kim Brown

Now, I say “we” got a card because it was you, Dear Readers, that helped spread the word, mostly through “likes” and ”shares” on Facebook. But I’m thinking we can do better. So please hit the “Twitter” button; share it on Facebook or Pinterest; re-blog it on your own Blogger, Wordpress or Tumblr account — whether you yourself can donate or not, pass the word on! And if you can spare a sawbuck or so, click on this link to go to the KGS’ donation page! Let’s make this go viral!

God is love: let the Kingdom know! Semper Fi.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pope Francis’ orthodoxy continues to startle

Once again, Pope Francis has gotten people talking excitedly about changes in the Catholic Church by saying basically the same things his predecessors have said. If there’s anything positive about the “progressive pope” narrative frame, it gets the media to pick up on things that they ignored when Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II said them.

What did Pope Francis say this time? Yesterday, August 5, in his general audience, he chose to address the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics. Fairly early into his catechesis, Francis said:

In these decades, in truth, the Church has not been either insensitive or slow. Thanks to the reflection carried out by Pastors, guided and confirmed by my Predecessors, the awareness has greatly grown that a fraternal and attentive acceptance is necessary, in love and in truth, of the baptized that have established a new coexistence after the failure of their sacramental marriage; in fact, these people are not at all excommunicated, they are not excommunicated! And they are absolutely not treated as such: they are always part of the Church. [Bold type mine.—ASL]

Excommunication refers strictly to the formal canonical penalty. Under Canon 1331.1 of the 1983 Code, a person who has been formally excommunicated cannot minister in any capacity in any manner of worship, celebrate or receive the sacraments, or exercise any official office or function of the Church. In some cases, excommunication is incurred latae sententiae; that is, by the fact of the delict and without need of formal declaration (Canon 1314). However, marrying a second person without securing an annulment of marriage from the first is not one of those cases. And excommunication does not deprive one of membership in the Catholic Church; even if you formally apostatize, rejoining is simpler than you’d think.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Consequentialism and the Planned Parenthood videos—UPDATE

If you learn anything about the law — and I’ll freely confess I’m not a lawyer — you learn that the way a statute is written is very, very, very important. The simpler a clause is written, the more it leaves open to interpretation.

Katie M. Geary of the Becket Fund explains the problem in The Federalist. To make a simple explanation simpler: Abortion providers can’t perform what the law calls a “partial-birth” abortion, a procedure in which the unborn child’s head is manipulated into a breech presentation, then has its brain removed while stuck in the birth canal. On the other hand, stopping the heart with digitoxin before dismembering the child ruins fetal stem cells for research purposes. (See the footage and the transcript.) “These babies are being strategically maneuvered, crushed, and dismembered under ultrasound guidance — while still alive.

There are two legal questions: 1) Are the abortionists working for Planned Parenthood “altering” the abortion procedure within the meaning of 42 USC 289g-1(b)(2)(A)(ii)? 2) Are various Planned Parenthood employees abusing the “reasonable payment” loophole in the illegalization of the sale of fetal tissue in 42 USC 289g-2(e)(3)? Unfortunately, none of the pro-abort attempts to “debunk” the videos really reaches these questions; the one state government investigation to date — Indiana’s — was done with such indecent haste that we’re justified in wondering how much effort was really put into it. (As for the videos being “heavily” or “deceptively” edited ... well, the full-length videos from which the press-release “good parts” edits were taken are readily available both on the Center for Medical Progress’ website and on YouTube; so you can make that judgment for yourself.)