June 8, 2015

Marriage Equality and the 14th Amendment

The US Supreme Court finally agreed to analyze the implications of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (1868) and marriage equality. In this case, multitudes of LGBT Americans yearn for marriage and feel discriminated against when state governments prohibit same-sex marriage. Many of these LGBT people who desire marriage are lesbians and gays who never desired heterosexual romance. Their only option for a romantic marriage is a same-sex marriage.

Consider the 14th Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The 14th Amendment followed the 13th Amendment (1865) that prohibited the inhumanity of chattel slavery. The mere prohibition of slavery was insufficient, and the 14th Amendment established de jure equality of all men for the pursuit of life, liberty, and property. Also, African-American male suffrage needed the 15th Amendment (1870).

These marvelous amendments, however, initially failed to prohibit unjust discrimination in the form of racial segregation. For example, the US Supreme Court Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) defended de jure racial segregation based on the pretense of "separate but equal." Also, the 15th Amendment never established suffrage for all adults regardless of gender.

De jure corrections of the above unjust inequalities included the 19th Amendment (1920) that established women's suffrage; the US Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that decided public school segregation was unconstitutional; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment practices and public accommodations; the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that suspended poll taxes, literacy tests, and other subjective voter registration tests; and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that legislated equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin.

Landmark US court cases re marriage equality focused on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the 2008 California Proposition 8. DOMA was a federal law that allowed states to refuse the recognition of same-sex marriages granted by the laws of other states. Proposition 8 became a California state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage.

Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in 2010 that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional while citing the 5th Amendment and the 14th Amendment Due Process clauses and also the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. He concluded that California lacked a rational basis for denying lesbians and gays from the legal benefits of same-sex marriage. For example, all opposition to California same-sex marriage involved nothing more than traditional approval of opposite-sex marriage and traditional disapproval of homosexuality. Three years later in 2013, the US Supreme Court made a unanimous dismissal to the last appeal from Proposition 8 proponents. The US Supreme Court in 2013 also struck down DOMA, Section 3.

The US Supreme Court trend that favors marriage equality suggests the end of de jure marriage inequality based on the implications of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. This predicted end of de jure discrimination, however, will have no effect on any given ecclesiastical definition of marriage and annulment, which has always been separate from state and federal laws. This issue is de jure equal opportunity for LGBT Americans who yearn for marriage. 2015 is the year of US marriage equality.

Copyright © 2015 James Edward Goetz

Originally published at OpEdNews 1/25/2015
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Marriage-Equality-and-the-by-James-Goetz-14th-Amendment_Civil-Marriage_Civil-Rights_Civil-Rights-Act-150125-9.html

March 28, 2015

Restricted Free Will and Conditional Universalism

My biblical theology Conditional Futurism briefly discusses imagery of postmortem evangelism in 1 Peter and imagery of postmortem conversions in Revelation. I also support that the biblical imagery teaches about the reality of postmortem conversions. Beyond that book, I believe that postmortem conversions will eventually result in universalism, which means that every human will eventually enjoy the gift of salvation. Some critics object to my conclusion of universalism. For example, some object to the conclusions of my biblical research about postmortem conversions. Others object that the concept of universalism is impossible because universalism implies that God would violate human free will while God would never do that. This brief piece focuses on objections to genuine free will and universalism.

Theologian Roger Olson in his 2015 blog post "Universalism Is 'In the Air'...." says that universalists are soft-hearted Calvinists while Arminians are immune to universalism. Olson's generalization derives from the contrasting Calvinist and Arminian views of free will and saving grace. For example, Calvinism teaches the doctrine of irresistible grace, which means that humans cannot resist God's gracious gift of faith and salvation. I want to emphasize that irresistible grace implies that humans immediately accept salvation when God offers salvation and that momentary resistance to God's offer is impossible. Alternatively, Arminianism teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace. Prevenient grace is resistible grace that enables humans to accept faith in God and the gift of salvation.

Calvinism is typically associated with theological determinism. Theological determinism means that God meticulously determines every detail in the universe such as the greatest human joys, the foremost human horrors, and trivial events such as the formation of dust bunnies. Some adherents of theological determinism believe that free will is compatible with determinism, which is called classical compatibilist free will or soft determinism. Other theological determinists reject the existence of free will, which is called hard determinism.

In contrast to Calvinism, Arminianism is associated with traditional incompatibilism, which means that free will exists while free will is incompatible with determinism. For example, Arminianism teaches that humans can possibly resist God's loving gift of saving grace. Arminianism also implies partial determinism and concomitant partial indeterminism.

The strongest form of incompatibilism is what I call unrestricted free will. Examples include Cartesian free will. The concept of unrestricted free will supposes that human will lacks the slightest constraint and that humans perpetually possess the power of contrary choice while no possible human action is literally irresistible. For instance, no human could possibly face a literally irresistible enticement.

Weak forms of incompatibilism are what I call restricted free will. Examples include Peter van Inwagen's model of free will. Restricted free will means that a human sometimes possesses the power of contrary choice. For instance, a human can sometimes act contrary to what they do and sometimes face a literally irresistible enticement for a particular course of action.

Consider two examples of restricted free will. First, a woman faces nothing except three mutually exclusive courses of action that she supposes are equally beneficial. In this case, she would freely choose among the three alternatives. In the second example, she faces multiple courses of action and she delights in one possibility while she utterly disdains all other possibilities. The only delightful course of action is literally irresistible while she would never choose any other option.

I want to further illustrate these examples in an imaginary multiverse with an indefinite number of alternate histories. In the first example, the woman faces the same three mutually exclusive courses of action that she supposes are equally beneficial. In the second example, the same woman with the same past faces the same circumstance an indefinite number of times. This circumstance that is repeated an indefinite number of times results in three different alternate histories because the woman could freely choose among the three options. In the second example, she faces multiple courses of action and she delights in one possibility while she utterly disdains all other possibilities. In this multiverse, the same woman with the same past faces the same circumstance an indefinite number of times and always chooses the same delightful option. The option is irresistible regardless of how many times that she faces the same circumstance.

I add that a model might reject both hard determinism and the existence of free will. I categorize such models and hard determinism together into what I call unfree will.

I defined unrestricted free will, restricted free will, compatibilist free will, and unfree will to preface my explanation for how these categories impact the possibility of what I call conditional universalism. Also, the concept of conditional universalism at first glance looks like an oxymoron, but let me explain. Conditional universalism means that every human will eventually enjoy Christ's gift of salvation while the gift of salvation is nonetheless conditional. For example, Hebrews 11:6 emphasizes the vital importance of faith and says that all who approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Mere awareness of God saves nobody, but people are saved by God's gracious gift through the condition of faith. This condition applies to experiencing salvation in life or afterlife. Also, the concept of universalism is meaningless if some people forever rebel against God and likewise never reconcile with God.

Consider God's love and ministry to humans: Romans 5:8 says that God's love is demonstrated by Jesus Christ dying for the salvation of sinful people; 2 Peter 3:9 says that God wants to save all people; as previously mentioned, 1 Peter and Revelation indicate imagery of postmortem lost people facing opportunities for salvation. Assuming the reality of (1) God desiring to save everybody and (2) postmortem offers of salvation, then one might conclude that God would eventually make an enticingly irresistible offer of salvation to afterlife holdouts if God could make irresistible offers. Among the four categories of human free will that I discussed, unrestricted free will is the only category that is incompatible with irresistible offers. That case leaves room for the hope of universalism while God cannot ensure universalism. However, restricted free will, compatibilist free will, and unfree will are compatible with irresistible offers. These models of free will are logically consistent with conditional universalism.

I believe in restricted free will and identify that my theology is modified Arminianism. For example, I believe that resistible prevenient grace is the general rule and God wants everybody to convert within the realm of resistible grace. This helps the development of human agency. However, I also believe that God never ceases to reach out to humans regardless of death. Moreover, God's love would eventually reveal an irresistible offer to any recalcitrant afterlife holdout. This ensures the glorious universal reconciliation. Marvelous benefits include believers reuniting with loved ones who passed away lost and all archenemies making peace with each other.


Copyright © 2015 James Edward Goetz

Originally published 3/23/2015:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Restricted-Free-Will-and-C-by-James-Goetz-Arminianism_Bible_Biblical-Studies_Calvinism-150323-763.html

January 20, 2015

Shades of Sexual Ethics and Amnesia

[CONTAINS NON-EXPLICIT SEXUAL THEMES]
I converted to Christianity in October 1984 while deliberately leaving a life of psychotic delusions, hallucinations, memory loss, substance abuse, and sexual promiscuity. My sexual ethics quickly changed to a conservative view. Recently, I reconsidered a moderate view of sexuality.

I ended up with a remarkable recovery from psychotic breakdowns and addictions that leaves me grateful to God. Part of my conversion included a strong commitment for no sexual relations apart from a marital covenant. That meant no sex with a partner unless that partner was my wife, regardless if I would ever marry. I also did not limit the definition of sex to coitus while sex includes any eroticism between partners that involves the manipulation of genitals such as lap dances, mutual masturbation, dry humps, digital sex, oral sex, use of sex toys with a partner, and anal coitus. For nearly three decades, I believed and taught that this sexual ethic was a moral imperative. I likewise rejected the validity of technical virginity that specifies one is a chaste virgin if he or she avoids coitus before marriage despite premarital involvement with non-coital sexual relations such as lap dances, mutual masturbation, dry humps, digital sex, and oral sex.

Perhaps the most awkward fact of my teen sexuality in the late 1970s and early 1980s was my partial amnesia. I recall various before and after scenes with memory loss of during scenes. At some level, the partial memory loss sounds ridiculous while I have no clear explanation for it. As a teen I always desired and sometimes sought sexual encounters, so I lacked psychological motive to forget those details. Or did I previously suffer trauma from a scandal when I relished flirtation from hot women who called me jailbait? I cannot remember. In any case, I recall different concepts of sexual ethics.

One repetitive memory involved the question, "Swallow or spit?" In these cases, an attractive female offered me fellatio while deferentially tendering the option of swallowing or spitting the resultant ejaculation. I suspect that most of the females typically advocated equal rights while in the respective incidences they focused on popularity and attention. The deference, however, involved two options that were high risk for STDs and no low-risk options. Nevertheless, one hygienically savvy female shared the news of her engagement while proposing that protected dry humps and protected oral sex with me was okay during her engagement and pending marriage.

I eventually found popularity at various New Jersey strip bars. Some dancers gave me free drinks and some bar owners consulted my opinion during dancer auditions. I recall a thing for a particular married dancer. Her husband was okay with me when I tipped her, but other times he fumed at me. I also recall him at his conversion van in the parking lot collecting money from a line of men and handing out condoms to them when they took turns with his wife. I as well met subcultural Christian strippers / lap dancers who saved coitus only for marriage.

In early August 1983, a couple months before I turned twenty, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of substance abuse and psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucinations. I also fretted to my psychiatrist about my supposed virginity. The hospital released me after a month. But in early September 1984, I again ended up in psychiatric hospitalization with the same symptoms and the same hang-ups about virginity. This second time around the psychiatric block, I eventually turned to Christ and found remarkable healing from addictions and recurring psychotic delusions. Six months after my conversion, my psychiatrist said: "You need no more therapy or medication. Your faith has healed you."

During my first year of Christianity, I diligently considered competing views of Christianity. In regards to sexual ethics, the official view of all the churches and denominations that I investigated taught strictly against sexual relations, coital and non-coital, apart from marriage. Typical support for this conservative sexual ethic focuses on Matthew 5:28 that says lustful looks at a women is adultery in the heart. I also talked to subcultural Christians who approved of and participated in non-coital sexual relations apart from marriage. They said they did not lust for coitus apart from marriage. I recall reflecting on past insane jealousy for various women and the likeliness of feeling insecure while developing a significant other relationship in that Christian subculture. No damned way would I marry a woman who would lap dance on other men, or even merely kiss another man for the entertainment industry. Alternatively, I felt safe and satisfied with conservative sexual ethics while enjoying a close relationship with God.

I recently considered that I unjustly judged Christians who hold onto their technical chastity apart from marriage, which means that they avoid vaginal and anal coitus except for a marital covenant. My Christian relationship with God continues to develop while I believe that Matthew 5:28 warns against lusting for illicit sex. I no longer believe that the Bible categorically forbids non-coital sex apart from marriage. Christian individuals and couples may opt for conservative sexual ethics for themselves, which is my situation, but that is for each single adult and each married couple to decide.

I end this brief opinion piece with an outline of three important qualifications that deserve their own essay: First, age of consent laws contain age-specific prohibitions against coitus and non-coital sex that are enforced by threats of criminal punishment. Second, corporations possess legal rights to restrict amorous encounters among employees that involve a conflict of interest. Third, moral revisions of a marital covenant such as a change from conservative sexual practices are never a unilateral decision but a mutual decision between both spouses.

Copyright © 2015 James Edward Goetz

Originally published at OpEdNews http://www.opednews.com/articles/Shades-of-Sexual-Ethics-an-by-James-Goetz-Bible_Christian-Religion_Christian-Sexual-Taboos_Christian-Values-150113-130.html

July 30, 2014

My Dream of Equality

I awoke and remembered a dream in July 2013. I rarely remembered dreams during the past fifteen or so years, but I strongly remembered this dream.

In the dream, I became a world-class philosopher and theologian. I convinced all churches that marriage in the church is only for heterosexual couples. After a brief reflection on my accomplishment, I suddenly transported to another planet. On this planet, I learned that every inhabitant loved God. Some inhabitants lacked the ability for heterosexual romance and inherited the ability for strong homosexual romance while enjoying a monogamous same-sex marriage. Also, the people on this planet existed far better off than the people on Earth. The dream ended.

My first impression was to dismiss the dream. I understood that the Bible teaches that the normal pattern for marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman while typical human anatomy suggests the normalcy of heterosexual marriage. I also understood that every biblical reference to homosexual sex was a condemnation. I saw these facts as main points in a powerful argument against the legitimacy of same-sex marital covenants in the church. For a couple decades, I asserted that all Christians who long for a marital covenant and lack capability for a heterosexual romance need to limit themselves to celibacy or a heterosexual marriage. If heterosexual passions never develop despite prayer and devotionals, then Christian life for a devout believer with a homosexual orientation should include celibacy and strong chaste friendships. However, for the last several years, I supported same-sex marriage laws while I never wanted to impose all of my Christian ethics on the general population.

I also understood that Romans 1:18–32 describe a pattern of paganism-induced hyper-sinfulness including shameful sexuality. For example, this passage contains negative references to homosexual sex including the only biblical reference to lesbian sex. However, Romans 1 and the rest of New Testament never describe how a minority of chaste Christian teens develops homosexual passions during puberty while fervently praying to change those passions. Most Christian teens develop romantic passions and most develop normal heterosexual passions, but a small percentage of teens in strong Christian homes develop homosexual passions without any pagan or criminal influences in their lives.

In the spring 2012, I wrote a Theoperspectives blog series titled "Sacred Sex, Celibacy and the New Testament." When I began the series, I believed that one of my essays would unequivocally support that same-sex marriage is prohibited in the New Testament. To my surprise, I saw condemnations of various homosexual activities but no unambiguous condemnation of same-sex marriage. Despite the inexhaustive evidence, I felt no compulsion to change my view while I felt compassion for Christians with same-sex attraction who were not at least bisexual and capable of a heterosexual romance.

I believed for decades that many modern ethical issues are not directly spelled out in the Bible. For example, should a Christian heroin addict nurture or break their addiction? The answer is common sense to most people, but an exhaustive biblical concordance of any translation shows no entry for the word heroin. Likewise, Christians need to make conclusions about heroin addiction based on general biblical principles.

I believe that the Old Testament and the New Testament are the canon of God's Word. I believe that God's Word teaches that the normal pattern for marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. For decades, I assumed the New Testament prohibited exception to the normal pattern, but the apostolic church never directly addressed genuine same-sex marriages. I prayerfully and rigorously examined the Bible and my dream from July 2013. The biblical commandments to express love and compassion, the hormonal chemistry of many LGBT Christians that makes them incapable of heterosexual romance while yearning for marriage, the lack of explicit biblical condemnation of same-sex marriage, and finally my dream eventually led me to the endorsement of same-sex marriages in Christian churches. I signed up with Accepting Evangelicals http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/. I felt shocked that I changed my mind after almost three decades.br/>
I end with one final point. Some may feel that mention of exceptions is derogatory, but that completely misses the importance of exceptions. For example, geniuses such as Einstein are exceptions.



P.S. This post continued my September 3, 2013, post http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-dream-from-june-or-july-2013.html.

Copyright © 2014 James Edward Goetz

May 12, 2014

Romans 1:26 and Bestiality?

[Parental Warning For PG13 Content]
I always interpreted that Romans 1:26 described various lesbian activity. But Patristics indicates that some church fathers thought that the passage describes something else. This brief essay considers if the verse refers to the Old Testament prohibition of bestiality.

Consider Romans 1:24–27 NRSV:

[24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
[26] For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, [27] and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
These verses refer to pagans who worshiped creatures instead of God and consequently became dominated by degrading passions that resulted in the pagans degrading their bodies with sexual immorality. Romans 1:26 refers to women who "exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural. Then 1:27 refers to men who "committed shameless acts with men," which clearly implies promiscuous anal sex among men.

Parallelism might indicate that Romans 1:26 referred to illicit female homosexual activity because 1:27 clearly indicated illicit male homosexual activity. However, patristics never agreed on the interpretation of 1:26.

Bernadette J. Brooten in "Patristic Interpretations of Romans 1.26" documents that the church fathers rarely commented about the degrading female activity in Romans 1:26 while the few who commented were divided between two interpretations. For example, Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom said that the degrading female activity was lesbian sex while Pope Anastasius and Augustine said that the degrading female activity was some type of illicit heterosexual sex.

I propose a third possible interpretation. Romans 1.26 referred to a type of degrading sexual activity explicitely prohibited in the Old Testament. For example, the Old Testament never prohibited or mentioned any type of lesbian activity while Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 specifically prohibited illicit practices of anal sex among men. Also, 18:23 and 20:15–16 specifically prohibits both males and females from bestiality, which is unnatural intercourse with animals. If Paul in Romans 1:26–27 referred to Old Testament prohibitions, then 1:26 could not have been a reference to lesbianism but possibly a reference to bestiality.

Does anybody agree or disagree?

Reference
Bernadette J. Brooten "Patristic Interpretations of Romans 1.26," Ninth International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford, September 1983 (published in Studia Patristica XVIII: Papers of the 1983 Patristics Conference. Vol. I: Historica-Theologica-Gnostica-Biblica, ed. Elizabeth A. Livingstone, Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1985, 287–291), http://people.brandeis.edu/~brooten/Articles/Patrisitc_Interpretations_of_Romans_1_26.pdf.


Copyright © 2014 James Edward Goetz

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

May 8, 2014

My Links On General Partnerships

In 1990, I read about the paradoxical authority of a general partnership and saw that it was the best analogy for the the three-in-one paradox of the Trinity. I then started to informally teach this analogy. In 2010, I wrote a blog article about it and followed up with a couple brief essays. This year, I published a legal philosophy essay in THE JOURNAL JURISPRUDENCE 21 on the metaphysics of legal persons that include general partnerships. More to come....

"Natural Unity and Paradoxes of Legal Persons" (2014)
http://www.jurisprudence.com.au/juris21/Goetz.pdf

"Simple Divine Partnership and Functional Limits of the Incarnation" (2011) http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/03/simple-divine-partnership-and.html

"Weak Relative Identity and the General Partnership Model of the Trinity" (2011) http://philpapers.org/archive/GOEWRI.pdf

"The Partnership Law Model of the Trinity" (2010) http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2010/03/partnership-law-model-trinity.html

September 3, 2013

My Dream From June Or July 2013

I awoke and remembered a dream in June or July 2013. I rarely remember dreams over the past fifteen or so years, but I strongly remembered this dream.

In the dream, I became a world-class philosopher and theologian. I convinced all churches that marriage in the church is only for heterosexual couples. After a brief reflection on my accomplishment, I suddenly transported to another planet. On this planet, I learned that every inhabitant loved God. And some inhabitants incapable of heterosexual romance but capable of strong homosexual romance enjoyed monogamous same-sex marriages. Also, the people on this planet existed far better off than the people on Earth. The dream ended.

My first impression was to dismiss the dream. I understood that the Bible teaches that the normal pattern for marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. I also understood that every biblical reference to homosexual sex was a condemnation. I saw these facts as main points in a powerful argument against the legitimacy of same-sex marital covenants in the church. For a couple decades, I stated that every Christian who longs for a marital covenant and who is incapable of heterosexual romance needs to limit themselves to celibacy or heterosexual marriage. If heterosexual passions never develop despite prayer and devotionals, then Christian life for a devout believer with a homosexual orientation should include celibacy and strong chaste friendships.

I also understood that Romans 1:18–32 describes a pattern of paganism-induced hyper-sinfulness including hypersexuality. For example, this passage contains negative references to homosexual sex and the only biblical reference to lesbian sex. However, Romans 1 and the rest of New Testament never describe how a minority of chaste Christian teens develop homosexual passions during puberty while fervently praying to change those passions. Most Christian teens develop romantic passions and most develop normal heterosexual passions, but a small percentage of teens in strong Christian homes develop homosexual passions without any pagan or criminal influences in their lives.

Biblical arguments against the possibility of God-glorifying same-sex marital covenants are powerful and inexhaustive. To be continued....



Minor Corrections 9/4/2013

Copyright © 2013 James Edward Goetz