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October 15, 2012


Granting that WE define a term or concept doesn't mean a campaign for recognizing any definition of that term will succeed.

This is good opening, but merely preliminary. The response from those in favor of same-sex marriage are often times (I find in personal conversations) totally convinced that any form of marriage is fine in the eye of the beholder if that's what they choose. "To each his own", "Different strokes for different folks", etc. Therefore this response while a decent precursor to the question, does very little to explain the DAMAGING effects from any marriage situation other than the pro-creation arrangement ordained by God (or nature, to go along with this videos non-Christian allowance). So those reasons need to be explored and demonstrated, otherwise this video gains little ground.

To clarify, this video is attempting to drum up a "shock" factor in order to convince the viewer that opening the door to marriage definition is a bad idea. But you must assume that your audience has already considered all extreme arrangements and are convinced that all are ok, granted that no one is directly harmed and all involved parties are consenting to the arrangement.

Marriage is what we humans decide it is.

Koukl says: Don't accept this!


Because: If you accept it, then it might be used as a premise to campaign for legalizing polygamy, etc.

Koukl has to know this is argumentum ad consequentiam or 'appealing to the consequences'.

He does it anyway.


I wish Greg would stop using the term "same-sex marriage". There's no such thing. You might have two people of the same gender with a piece of paper "certifying" some type of relationship, but marriage is a totally committed, faithful, monogamous lifetime relationship between one man and one woman. I think by coming up with these logical arguments against so-called "same-sex marriage" we indicate that we surrender the truth that same-sex marriage is impossible in the first place.

I think Greg is arguing from the evidence of history. It has already been used as a premise for campaigning for legalizing gay "marriage" so the logic follows.

[comment removed]


"redefining certain things WON'T lead to redefining others, as there is a premise of inequality in poly-anything marriages that isn't found in one-to-one marriage"

Can you unpack that? How is there a de facto inequality in those types of arrangements?

Darth Dutch

PS - name calling typically isn't a great way to win people to your side.


I don't know what you are saying.

Maybe you (or someone else) will tell me where I go wrong...

He says: Either 1) marriage is 'something in particular' or 2) it is for us to define.

He says accepting #2 will somehow lead to legalizing polygamy, etc.

Therefore: #1 must be true. (!?!?)

That is, the reason he gives for rejecting #2 is the consequences of #2.

But, the consequences don't determine the truth of #2.

This is textbook ad consequentiam.

I think he knows it is.

A finer point is that he's actually not making this fallacious argument himself; he's counselling others to use it in dealing with non-Christians (who will often miss the fallacy).

I'd be surprised if he'd use it debating a prepared opponent.

By the way, admitting that we define marriage will give proponents of polygamy, etc., a bit of leverage. But that doesn't mean their case is made. Even Koukl is not claiming that.


RonH -

The consequences are and will be real, very serious ones that will be detrimental to all of society.

@ Rebecca -

Your nasty and vulgar comments do not make it a valid argument for your point.

Care to try again?

Greg's argument:

1. Marriage is limited to heterosexual unions if and only if marriage is defined teleologically with regard to procreation.

2. Therefore, if marriage is not defined teleologically, then unions are not limited to heterosexual unions.

3. If '2' is used as an argument to justify one type of non-heterosexual union, then all other non-heterosexual unions are equally justified.

4. Non-heterosexual unions result in things that most people consider harmful to society.

5. Therefore, arguing '2' may result in unions that cause what most people would consider harmful to society.

Now, there may be a better way of parsing the logic syllogistically, but the logic is pretty straightforward otherwise. Someone might disagree with the assertion made in '4', but it seems pretty accurate to me. Greg is not arguing that the terms in '1' be logically accepted as true on the basis of '4'. He is arguing in '5' that most people should consider making the argument in '2' undesirable based on '4'. He offered '3', which follows logically, in order to make the case for the truth value of '4', which imports an inductive argument.

@ g -

I agree that marriage is a particular thing, and that the term 'same-sex marriage' is a bit of a misnomer.

However, we have to have some sort of label or name to call things, otherwise how can we discuss them? I don't know of any other term that would be useful/helpful. This battle is hard enough. I don't see that searching for a new term would be practical. Might as well just go with what we have.


we have many labels available to us-- Sin, Immorality, Sodomy, etc.

I like what John MacArthur spoke on a couple weeks ago (paraphrase). All this might sound really harsh and hateful, and I bet that what's a lot of supporters of this lifestyle would say. But how can it be hateful if we're trying to communicate to sinners the message of Gospel that rescues them from their sinful lifestyle? It's not hate-speech; it's love-speech in the truest sense.

Hate-speech occurs when this type of behaviour is affirmed, ignoring the spiritual consequences of such a sinful lifestyle.


Considering the question of the post is "Is Same-sex marriage harmful to Society?", I am not sure how one can separate the consequences of an idea from the idea itself.

Darth Dutch

Mo and Darth,

I've summarized his argument twice and explicitly invited you to show where I went wrong in doing so.


About one minute into the video, he lays it out: Either marriage is something in particular or it's nothing in particular.

Then, he encourages you to encourage non-Christians to conclude that it's something in particular.

What reason are you supposed to give these non-Christians? The Bible?

No, because they don't believe the Bible.

You should give them, instead, poligamy, etc.

That is, you give them the consequences.

He's avoiding using the Bible (or other religious support) for the conclusion 'something in particular' because he is training you to deal with the non-Christian who don't revere the Bible.

He tells you to offer non-Christians the consequences as a reason, not to be against gay marriage, but to believe that marriage is something in particular.

The conclusion that same-sex marriage is bad is reached, according to the argument, only via the intermediate conclusion that 'marriage is something in particular'.

The intermediate conclusion is reached ad consequentiam.

The idea is to tie same sex marriage to all those other things.

Why take the indirect route?

Well, it does seem to relieve him of supporting the claim that same-sex marriage is harmful.

He makes some claims in this regard but gives them no support.

He even allows that maybe that having a married gay couple down the street is not a threat.


Hi RonH,

Question for you, it sounds like you are saying human beings should not make arguments that violate the laws of logic. Is this a position that is better explained given your worldview or Greg's?

If you think the assumptions that provide the foundation for your critique are better explained by your worldview of atheism, then please explain how the laws of logic came to be from an immaterial universe that exists randomly for no reason. And then please explain how Greg acting (in your opinion) in violation of those rules is a bad thing. You seem to be saying that human beings "should" do certain things to be functioning properly, (in this case making certain kinds of arguments and avoiding others) but that can't be, because only DESIGNED things could have a proper function in the first place. Atheism says the appearance of design is an illusion.

If you're going to borrow from the Christian worldview to make such an objection, shouldn't you at least give it that much credit?


Hi John,

The topic is set by the OP. When the OP is about the laws of logic (again) we'll come back to this. OK?


Evangelical Christians cannot continue to compare gay marriage to marriage between humans and animals and expect to be taken seriously.

Also, polyamory doesn't necessarily imply marriage, so it really has little to do with this conversation. Polyamory is a fact of our society, and for every society in human history.

The same argument was made 60-70 years ago, when that wanted to make illegal to allow black and white people to get married. They said it was against the natural order the things and also against Gods will. That was proven wrong and so will this.

Thom, we don't have separate bathrooms for white people and black people. We do have separate bathrooms for men and women. This is because men and women are different in ways that are significant enough for society to acknowledge and take into account when those differences are relevant. While differences in race are not relevant to marriage (or anything I can think of), differences in sex are relevant to creating and raising children. Because again, men and women are different.


The presentation in the OP (lol) is basically...

If a non-Christian talking to a Christian accepts same-sex marriage, then that non-Christian is accepting that we humans define marriage (which we do).

If the non-Christian accepts that we humans define marriage, then that non-Christian will have to accept inter-species marriage. (I doubt if Koukl really thinks this but there it is.)

But, the non-Christian, no doubt, think that inter-species marriage is unacceptable.

So, the non-Christian must reject same-sex marriage!

The Bible was used to support anti-miscegenation laws. That was a stretch.

It was used more legitimately to support slavery. That was pretty strightforward.

But the Bible and, as you put it, God's will are being avoided here because we're learning how to talk to a non-Christian.


@ Thom Kovacs -

Race has no significant bearing on marriage. Gender does.

When it comes to marriage, a black man and a white man are the same. A black woman and a white woman are the same.

But a man of any color/race and a woman of any color/race are not the same.

@ brgulker

"Evangelical Christians cannot continue to compare gay marriage to marriage between humans and animals and expect to be taken seriously."

Why? Because you say so?

But let's give you that much. What about the other situations, such as multiple wives/husbands, incestuous relationships (they do exist!) and even adult/child? (Look up NAMBLA.)

If marriage is a right, and if we open up marriage to mean 'whatever you choose', then upon what basis can we deny this "right" to these groups/combinations of people?

And if you think these relationships should have the "right" to marriage, are you really saying this would be a good thing for society?


"If the non-Christian accepts that we humans define marriage, then that non-Christian will have to accept inter-species marriage. (I doubt if Koukl really thinks this but there it is.)"

That isn't true - Interspecies marriage is at the extreme end of this spectrum. But the point that seems to be avoided so often is that the arguments given in favor of same-sex marriage can be extended beyond that to be used to justify other types of marriage (multiple partner marriage, adult/child marriage, etc.).

People may not want to admit that, or say that such things will never happen (as they undoubtedly did or would have done with same sex marriage years ago), but the fact is that if the meaning of marriage is subjective, then nothing is preventing that meaning to change in the future.

THe typical response from many people that "those types of marriage will never happen in the future so let's not waste our time talking about them" (as has been told to me) is meaningless if the meaning is subjective. The line drawn in the sand of "marriage is now inclusive of same sex marriage but nothing beyond that" is purely arbitrary.

Darth Dutch

Thom writes:
"The same argument was made 60-70 years ago, when that wanted to make illegal to allow black and white people to get married. They said it was against the natural order the things and also against Gods will. That was proven wrong and so will this."

You are simply wrong. Anti-interracial marriage laws were a child of the Enlightenment. In the common law, there was no prohibition on interracial marriage. When the US became a nation in 1776, only about half the colonies prohibited interracial marriages, but for reasons having to do with modernist notions of "racial purity," an idea finding no analogue prior to the Enlightenment. But even here, no one denied that a interracial marriages were possible. They were possible; that's why they were banned. In the case of SS"M," the divide is over whether there is such a thing.

It turns out that anti-interracial marriage laws increased toward the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Why? Because of the rise of genetics, and the place it played in the eugenics movement. The idea of "racial purity" now had a "scientific" basis. it was the progressives, like Woodrow Wilson, that supported this stuff. Yes, some Christian ministers jumped on board, as they did with slavery. Not because they had a biblical warrant; it's because they did not want to appear out of step and not with it. For more on this, read my Public Discourse article. You can get it be clicking my name.

Great article, Frank. Thanks for posting the link.

What detrimetal effects? He mentions polyamory and other alternative kinds of marriages. Is that it? I'm not sure why thats going to put a fright into a secular person. Homosexual unions will cause societal ills is a good slogan but there's little or no substance to it.


"If the non-Christian accepts that we humans define marriage, then that non-Christian will have to accept inter-species marriage. (I doubt if Koukl really thinks this but there it is.)"

I think that the point here is that it will remove any reason for not accepting it. It is like the argument that atheism did not promote the bloodshed at the hands of Stalin. What it did do was remove any reason for not engaging in it. The danger here is the kind we have observed playing itself out in history. Your worldview might not actively promote something it is enough for it to remove all the barriers and man's natural tendency toward doing wrong will do the rest.

Well articulated, Louis Kuhelj.

Thanks Carolyn I guess even a blind squirrel... ;)

RonH is a fairly clever cookie and the thing is that he makes the same mistake I did at one time and that is to think that human nature is good at its core. That is exactly what misinformed my worldview and that is why I failed to understand the arguments from the other side were really making sense. It is a very common error that lots of very smart people make. Lets hope our friend gives it some careful thought. That's all we can ask.

And yet one has only to look at young children to see that our human nature is flawed! Children hit, bite, scratch, and fight, yet no one has to teach them to be this way; they're typically mean to each other and always demand that they're own needs and wants take first place (unless, of course, they are guided and corrected along the way by proper parenting). Sin is alive and well in us from birth--and but for accepting the redemptive love of Christ, it is with us always.

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