Progressives, When is Your Progress Complete?

Leila Miller


\”We all want progress, but if you\’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.\”  — C.S. Lewis

Progressives, this post is for you. I have a question for you that is real and weighty I hope you can answer with clarity, so that I can understand what it means to be a progressive today. None of these are trick questions; they are asked sincerely.

The label \”progressive\” was chosen purposefully, I am sure. It is meant to convey that you are forward-thinking people, making progress in society.

Progress is defined as \”advancement, or movement toward a goal\”, so I ask…

In the realm of sexuality (since that\’s the pivot point of the current culture wars), toward what final goal are you advancing?

If there is no specific goal, then where are you going? Are you simply wandering? And if you are wandering, do you wander indefinitely? How do you know when your progression has ended, or do you believe that it never ends and never should end?

But going back to the definition of \”progress\”: If you believe there is a goal and you progress to it, do you then stop there?

And if you stop at the goal, what of the others, those who keep moving on past the goal, progressing to the next place? Aren\’t they then the true progressives, the ones who boldly break the taboos and dismantle societal constructs? And won\’t you be seen as hindering progress, and repressing or oppressing those moving forward (maybe even seen as a hater)? Or will it be bad to be a \”progressive\” then, and will you switch to proudly wearing the label of \”conservative\”?

Let\’s get more specific.

I think it\’s fair to say that when it comes to sex, progressives champion the right of consenting adults to use their sexuality in any way they desire. In the past that meant working to end the stigma of contraception, masturbation, divorce, pre-marital sex, and human abortion, and today it means the normalization or mainstreaming of pornography, hook-ups, group sex, homosexual acts and most recently gay \”marriage\”.

So, what next? When all these things are acceptable and enshrined, where do the progressives go? Who will the progressives be?

I would offer that we all already know, but when I dare to bring it up, I am shouted down. \”How could you equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality??!!\” (I do not equate them.) \”I don\’t see great hordes of people clamoring for those things to be accepted!!\” (Neither did anyone used to clamor for the acceptance of pornography, fornication, or homosexual \”marriage\”.)

I do know that respectable progressive psychologists, academics, and activists have been quietly working to destigmitize pedophilia and lower ages of consent, and I do know that the respectable, beloved progressive, Princeton professor Peter Singer, sees nothing wrong with certain occasions of bestiality.

These are forerunners of progressive thought in our culture. Distasteful now, but as we continue to \”morally progress\”, it\’s just a matter of time before these ideas gain greater acceptance.

For the progressives reading who are disgusted by such ideas, what are your natural \”stops\”? Can there be any? As far as I can tell, you deny the natural law (i.e., the universal moral law that can be known by the light of reason). You don\’t believe in natural boundaries for sex, nor the concept of \”order\” and \”disorder\” in morality. So, where are the brakes? What are your principles for dismissing these other uber-progressives out of hand?

Because they\’re right behind you, out-progressing you as we speak.

Thanks for any answers you are able to provide.

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81 thoughts on “Progressives, When is Your Progress Complete?”

  1. Great, pertinent article. Where exactly are we going…I would add two immediate goals that the left will push to form the culture and ensure the twin victories of gay marriage and abortion are never challenged again. Specifically, liberals will attack gender. If there aren’t two complimentary genders well any argument for traditional marriage doesn’t even have a starting point. Second, liberals will push for embryonic research, surrogacy and eventually one parent “families”. Same reasoning. Shape the culture and the people will rationalize their choices.

    Ultimately, liberals want to make people into gods, naming good and evil for themselves.

  2. NONAZITeabaggers!

    Progressives are by definition Catholic through walking the talk of Jesus. Regressives on the other hand–Teabaggers–are White Supremacist Puritanical Nazis who hate Democratic Socialism because it stands for a Catholic New Deal. “I like your Christ, but not your Christians”–Gandhi. We must walk our talk by putting the gospel and the poor at the front of our Social Justice Agenda! Otherwise as Pope Francis pointed out the Vatican will fall like a house of cards.

    1. NONAZITeabaggers!

      ” The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler’s game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.”–Henry Wallace, The Dangers of American Fascism.

      G-d Bless Henry Wallace a devout Progressive Catholic who’s words of wisdom are ever so relevant.

      Catholics are not Puritans! Your not to be acting like the KKK with the whole bible thumping. Remember the Bible used to justify slavery…doesn’t make it Catholic!!

      PS: Nazis banned abortion and rounded up the lgbt community. Let’s please NOT GO THERE!! They are equal in G-Ds eyes and Jesus loved the sinners. We must remember who Jesus/Yeshua stood against: the “money changers”. The Pharisees are by definition Republicans because they are hypocrites!! Capitalism and Catholic values do not mix! Focus on income inequality not social wedge issues that Fascist Puritan Teabaggers love to hide behind!

    2. Nicholas Bollaert

      In an attempt to put this on a less random track… Gay people only make up somewhere around 3% – 10% of the population and probably closer to the lower end of the estimate, but that’s a political debate. That’s going to be a pretty small number of potential marriages in the grand scheme of things.

      I kind of think we’d be better off not fighting this losing battle, and instead putting the effort into pulling marriage out of the gutter and restoring it to a sacramental standard… and then let the effects there heal it.

    3. NONAZITeabaggers!

      They deserve Catholic/Universal love and acceptance. They are minorities who are not treated EQUALLY which is the heart of Catholic Univeralism!

      So what should we do then? Should we follow Adolf Putin and round of the lgbt community because they don’t fit the “Russian/Aryan Mold”? We are Catholics! We know better than to devolve into Russian Orthodox/Lutheran/Evangelical Heretics!

    4. NONAZITeabaggers!

      Have you not been paying attention to the Teabaggers? They are eugenicists calling Obama the abortion president. Westboro BAPTIST Church? “Jews killed Jesus” and “G-d hates f-gs”? “Death Penalty for f-gs”? They sound like Mooslums!!

      Hitler was a Mooslum just look up the relations between Islam the “Anti-Christ” religion predicted in the Bible and Adolf Hitler. Nazism is occultic and so is Mecca.

      Let’s start being Catholics and loving those that Mooslum Barbianians hate! The cult of hate will be overcome with Catholic love!

    5. Nicholas Bollaert

      That is not relevant to this discussion though. No one is arguing the positions you are denouncing here, in this thread.

    6. NONAZITeabaggers!

      It is relevant it ties back to the quote I posted above regarding Henry Wallace exposing anti-progressive hate and fearmongering. The Republican Nazi party has scapegoats to keep the people divided and conquered. That way were fighting over dumb wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage to keep us from discussing income inequality which is the most important Jesuit/Catholic issue of our time.

      Focus on Pope Francis! The greatest tyranny is NOT abortion and gay marriage its the “tyranny of capitalism”. This is why he is pope and not benedict! Francis deserves the respect of the world for giving the world the tough love it needs!

    7. Nicholas Bollaert

      People are still allowed to have Internet discussions of other topics :-p

      And honestly, invoking Nazis in an Internet debate triggers Godwin’s Law and ultimately gets you dismissed as unintelligible.

    8. NONAZITeabaggers!

      Godwins Law is an excuse to censor legit concerns that need to be debated. Is it Godwins Law to expose Mormon Cult SS Mitt Romney for being an Occultist? Is it Godwins Law to expose MoxNews as SS Fascist Propaganda Henry Wallace/FDR warned us about? Is it Godwin’s law to discuss Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and 40 years of historical revisionism coming home to roost? Is it Godwins Law therefore to parallel the Southern Racist Regressives as the real Nazis and therefore debunk the “Libertarian” historical revisionist lie in America that Nazism is Socialism even though Hitler rounded up the Communists before even touching the Jews?

      No I’m a devout Catholic Progressive who refuses to be censored for speaking the truth! I will never sell my soul to the Satanic Kochs and there Capitalist puppet Rand Hitler Paul.

      G-d bless Pope Francis and the Jesuits who are the real Catholics! Republican Catholicism is an oxymoron just like Jewish Republixans.

    9. I am going to flag you as a troll and get the administrators to eject you. This is silliness.

    10. NONAZITeabaggers!

      John 15:18 ESV / 154 helpful votes

      “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

      HelpfulNot Helpful

      Matthew 5:44 ESV / 142 helpful votes

      But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

      Amen glad to be censored for telling the truth.

    11. Nicholas Bollaert

      Very few people manage to love their enemies. It isn’t as easy as Jesus made it out to be :-p

    12. The President of the United States publicly declared “you must punish your enemies.”

      I’m struggling to find the nuance in that declaration. Perhaps I’m not analyzing the statement carefully enough. There is a lot of complexity there to sift through.

    13. Nicholas Bollaert

      So, Barack Obama is the only Progressive in the world? One guy, a politician even, makes a statement that is clearly intended for political effect, and this somehow is exemplary of all Progressives everywhere?

      Conservative politicians never say stuff like that? :-p

      Also, my response to you was that very few people love their enemies. I am not sure how a statement by Obama does anything except support that sentiment.

    14. In the Bahagavad-gita it names the 4 vocations of human beings. 1 priest (religious) 2 warrior 3 householder
      4 mercahnt. The role of the warrior is to right wrong in
      this material world. Jesus used many instances of armies
      coming to make things right. He knew what Leon Trotsky
      meant when he said ” You may not be interested in war
      but war is interested in you..

    15. Really? Based on the ranting of this guy, I thought it was abundantly clear how they feel. 🙂 Yeah, not so loving.

    16. ha. You are being censored for being rambling, off-point, rude and non-productive. Notice that no one else is being censored even for differing opinions. I debate folks every day with different ideas and have done so for years. I can count on one hand the number of folks I’ve thought needed to be kicked out for being trolls. You are one of them. Learn to dialogue or else go troll elsewhere.

    17. Not when he clutters up the comment box repeatedly. It gets in the way of the conversation.

    18. Francis Choudhury

      Catholic “New Deal”? Wonder when that was struck, and by who. As for “Social Justice Agenda”, would that be referring by any chance to Marxist Liberation Theology? I don’t recall Pope Francis promoting either of those things – ever.

  3. Francis Choudhury

    In the realm of sexuality, the real goal of “progressives” is simple: sex without limits and without consequences. Currently the main (the last, in fact) obstacle to that is the defining institution of marriage, hence that has to be done away with, destroyed.

    Politically that’s not a sellable proposition – at least directly. So the interim step is to introduce the more palatable concept of “gay marriage” – based purely on
    “love” (avoiding the biological/sexual/conjugal/procreative/child rearing considerations/arguments as far as possible). This initiative provides sufficient cover for marriage to be redefined in such a way as to ultimately render it meaningless and obsolete. Indeed, this diabolically brilliant plot actually casts “progressives” as piously fighting (against “bigoted” and “hateful” and “neanderthal” conservatives) for the extension of “marriage equality” to those currently outside its purview, even as, in reality, they work to do away with marriage, for everybody, altogether!

    With marriage gone (and the age of consent for sexual liaisons abolished soon thereafter), it should be a blissful, utopian sexual free for all – a global orgy, with every combination, deviation and perversion welcome! Now that the redefinitions of marriage have begun, the groups following the pioneers won’t even have to fight half as hard to have their particular fetishes accepted and approved.

    Don’t take my word on this. Let one of their own confirm it for you (while watching the video, note how the studio audience of modernist morons cheer wildly as the activist most matter-of-factly declares her anarchic mission):

    1. Nicholas Bollaert

      I think you are giving Progressives too much credit as some kind of cabal with an organized agenda. They don’t have to “ruin” marriage, we ruined it ourselves though no fault divorce and the like as a side effect of the women’s liberation / sexual freedom type movements.

      I also think you give too much credit for their agenda. People want to do what they want to without feeling guilty about it. That is true, but they do not need a conspiracy to achieve that. It is a much more ad hoc thing :-p

    2. Nicholas Bollaert

      What makes you think sex without consequences is politically unsellable? The only real taboos left are rape, incest, animals and pedophilia. That leaves a LOT of ground for guilt free debauchery :-p

  4. ” In the realm of sexuality (since that’s the pivot point of the current culture wars), toward what final goal are you advancing? ”

    What a silly question. That’s like asking dolphins if they are done evolving yet.
    No follow-ups will be answered. This is a a drive-by-theology post.

    1. Well, since dolphins don’t choose to evolve (meaning there is no conscious act, no will involved), but those who advance into new sexual “experiences” and mores do choose those things, then I think you have a very bad analogy on your hands. Maybe try again?

    2. And James, the more I think about your comment, the more absurd it seems. Are you comparing evolution of species to the progressive social movement? Please, help me out.

    3. Nicholas Bollaert

      It was a terrible analogy, but expecting political labels to make sense is also silly. Why not ask Pro-Choice people what other choices they are in favor of, since obviously the real crux of their position is they want to exercise choices :-p

    4. If we don’t have at least some political labels, then how do we speak? It would be impossible for me to articulate the detailed ideas and thoughts of every individual person who considers himself “progressive”. So, what to do?

      My main question was to where are they progressing? What is the goal? I have known many who use and like the word “progressive” to describe themselves. This is a forum for them to explain where the progress will take them (if they had their way) and then to question their thoughts about others who want to remain the “progressives” when they themselves have decided to stop “progressing”. I am interested in all those questions, but have gotten no answers.

    5. Nicholas Bollaert

      Yes, there is absolutely a need and utility for political labels, but your premise here seems to be trying for “answers” based on the dictionary definition of the word progressive.

      We also use Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative, and even more esoteric symbology like the Donkey for Democrats and the Elephant for Republicans… Those labels really don’t have a lot of explicit information that we can derive from the literal definition of the words.

      But even if we were to grant your point, which is that when a progressive is pushing for something like accepted gay marriage, or whatever, that they find to be reasonable based on their own subjective opinion of right and wrong, there is always someone else who will take it further and make that person look Conservative… That won’t really change their position. It just means that in say 10 years they might be finding themselves on the conservative end of the spectrum as the next generation might push an agenda that goes past the scope of what they are comfortable with.

      Long story short, if Joe believes that gay marriage is perfectly fine, that opinion isn’t going to change because next year Ted wants to push for changing the age of sexual consent to 11.

      I could be wrong, but I get the impression your position is we should stick with what has historically worked in order to prevent future slippery slopes… but that position seems weak because our society does have a history of fighting real social injustice… and even though you can make a case that gay marriage and racial discrimination in marriage really aren’t related… people don’t seem to be swayed by the argument (probably due to my previous stated theory that straight marriage as an institution already hit rock bottom)

    6. Nicholas Bollaert

      To more directly address your question then… I used to be rather skeptical of gay marriage for many of the reasons you espouse. Then I came to the conclusion that the institution had indeed already been degraded to the point that it really had no moral authority left in it, so there was no harm in denying the privilege to gay couples.

      However, that is the extent of my “progression” there. I do not believe that further “progress” needs to be made.

      I believe, anecdotally and from my own experience, that Progressives are issue-centric. There is one or a handful of relatively narrow issues that they want to see changed, and that is it.

      Progressives also tend to be very open to alliance with others, and therefore will form coalitions that wind up pushing for a lot of changes even if the individual coalition members aren’t necessarily in favor of them all.

      On the other hand I find Conservatives tend to be ideologically driven and therefore will not compromise on a principle in order to form a coalition even one that would advance their own agenda if it also would advance an agenda they were opposed to.

      I think this is why GOP Primaries have been so much more contentious.

    7. But your stance is confusing. Yes, absolutely agreed that we have degraded marriage already, long before gay “marriage” came on the scene. But even those degraded types of marriage were still conjugal in nature. And they could be rectified or rehabilitated to the best forms of what marriage is supposed to be. They still could ontologically be ‘marriage’. But gay “marriage” is an ontological impossibility. It can no more be marriage than a cat can be a dog. There is no “privilege” of marriage that can be given to gay couples, as there is no character of marriage in their “union”. They cannot consummate a marriage, their “union” is ordered toward nothing. And the idea that there is no harm in it is far from true. Not only the loss of religious freedom has begun, but also the voices of the children (made purposely motherless or fatherless, by necessity of such “unions” which will of course demand the right to children) are only beginning to be heard:

      And it doesn’t matter to our future if you personally don’t believe in or support other types of sexual orientations and “unions” to come, because the “movement” will run right over you to get there anyway. And it’s all because we allowed the unfortunate precursors (the ones we personally wouldn’t go beyond!), both in legal precedent and public opinion and acceptance.

    8. Nicholas Bollaert

      You said yourself in another fork on this thread that we (as a society/culture) tend to be more “feelers” and our concern tends to be around the immediate.

      Do you really think the average man on the street favors an argument based on “ontological” impossibilities and about what the true root meaning of “consummation” is? I don’t think so.

      In the eyes of the secular society, as soon as the marriage certificate is signed, the couple is married. “Consummation” as a requirement is not a generally considered thing any more, and if you did a random poll on the street I bet most people who even knew what the word meant would equate with sex without qualifiers.

      If society chooses to fall off a cliff in the near or distant future with marriages to phones… (I believe there is a Scarlett Johannsen movie already exploring that concept) I can neither predict nor deny that based on whether gay people can use the word marriage in general society.

      All those things you say about marriage — “normal” marriages are already not living up to them. The same problems with children and society are already happening. The only difference is I can look at a picture of a heterosexual couple and pretend/assume that isn’t the case.

      It isn’t like if marriage equality is defeated in the courts or legislatures (which seems an unlikely outcome) gay people will shrug and go back in the closet. All it means is our society will continue to celebrate crap like a Kardashian “wedding” and the next season of the Bachelor and the state of society will continue to be as bad as you seem to believe it will be if gay marriage is normalized.

      I think the impasse we are at is that I don’t believe that secular society equates marriage and children any more. Single parents or unmarried people having children is a zero stigma thing in society today. Since people don’t need to get married to have kids, that has pushed marriage even further into the camp of just being a public declaration of temporary romantic attachment between two people.

      Stopping gay marriage is not going to “fix” the institution of marriage. So even though I would love to see marriage restored to what it originally meant, I am far too cynical to believe it can happen.

      And just to more directly address the last point, the slippery slope. I just do not agree that approving gay marriage today will guarantee (insert horrible future perversion here) in the future. IF by some miracle, the world is influenced by Grace and repairs the institution of marriage… it will correct the other problems as a matter of course.

    9. Nicholas. It’s almost as if you are saying, “Since the world does not think anymore, then let’s accept that fact and stop thinking. Therefore, I am okay with gay marriage.”

      That can’t be what you mean?

      Really, who cares if the whole world is wrong? You are still culpable for what you believe, teach, and think, no? You are responsible for yourself and what you disseminate. We still have to form our own children, and yes, shape our own culture and policy and law, no matter how futile it seems. We don’t strengthen the weakened institution of marriage by weakening it further.

      Maybe more folks should learn the word “ontological”. I learned it later in life. There is hope!

    10. Nicholas Bollaert

      In terms of society, I have a vote which I can exercise, and I have my own example.

      Since I believe marriage has already hit rock bottom, I just don’t see it getting weaker.

      With limited resources, I would rather fight different battles. Because I DO believe that it is a civil rights issue, but based on this simple nuance:

      We do now, and will continue to affirm heterosexual couples into marriage that don’t deserve to be recognized as marriages. And we will continue to do so, and ultimately we will approve some bum marriages we should not solely because the couple is heterosexual. And we will continue to grant them annulments and no-fault divorces and everything else that had degraded marriage long before the tide had risen enough for gay people to start asking for the privilege.

    11. True, and irrelevant to the question. If some heterosexual marriages contracept or divorce/remarry or are invalid, that can often be rectified. Men and women can have valid (not even necessarily sacramental) marriages, and we can even assume their validity (not knowing circumstances; the Church doesn’t even pry unless a spouse approaches the tribunal with a request). No two men can ever have a “marriage”, no matter what. It’s not marriage.

      You aren’t wasting any “limited resources” by speaking out against or voting against gay “marriage”. You have enough “resources” to do both, no? You can speak and you can vote, yes? Now, is it uncomfortable and will it make you be seen as a “meanie”? Perhaps. Is that, then, the problem? Something doesn’t make sense here.

      Are you Catholic? I want to understand where you are coming from.

    12. Nicholas Bollaert

      I was raised Catholic but am currently out of communion with the Church.

      As far as limited resources go, I was more referring to the Church, and that its political capital can be better spent.

      I think I just do not share your viewpoint that whether or not secular society applies a label incorrectly is a big deal.

    13. Nicholas Bollaert

      Hmm… If I were the arbiter of such things on my own conscience I would say no. However, I certainly understand and accept the Church’s authority in the matter.

      That being said, we live in a secular society and I don’t see the role of the Church to try and control sin via the legal system.

      It isn’t my place to judge others and everyone certainly myself included, are sinners. I see Jesus calling us to lead by example, not by politics.

      An unmarried gay couple and a married gay couple are exactly the same in my estimation with the only difference being some legal benefits and responsibilities.

      State sanctioned marriage, or state sanctioned anything, has no bearing on sin. There are sinful things that are legal and sinful things that are illegal. When the law and sin correspond it is by coincidence only.

    14. This clarifies a lot for me, so thank you. I would argue that it’s not “controlling sin via the legal system”, it’s protecting the pre-political institution that we call marriage. It exists in all societies, even atheist societies (which do not acknowledge gay “marriage”, by the way, and hardly on religious grounds). I will let Hillary Clinton speak to that, (this is before she suddenly “evolved” for political expediency):

      “[Marriage is] the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history, as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society in which they are to become adults.”

      And yes, I don’t believe all sinful things should be illegal, so we agree on that. I don’t think it’s coincidence, though, when the law and sin do correspond. On what do you think our system of laws are based? Let me let MLK speak here, about what makes a law just or unjust, from his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”:

      “[T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

      Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

      And if you really want marriage “equality”, then it has to be opened up to all, not just two straight people or two gay people. We weakened marriage before, now we are un-defining it completely. So, it’s meaningless, in effect, and everyone who wants to should be able to marry whomever and whatever he/she wants.

    15. Nicholas Bollaert

      I see that as a separate question. I think it is pretty clear that this issue is not about people exploring the philosophical meaning of equality… and you know that as well. This is about secular society deciding (for various and sundry reasons) that they want to normalize and include homosexual relationships as having no fundamental difference from traditional man-woman relationships.

      I think for the majority of secular society who favors this, it stems from three things:

      1) Political Correctness. We live in an age where we are hyper-vigilant against any form of overt discrimination

      2) Guilt. As a society we still look back and feel bad about past discrimination against groups and are trying to proactively atone after a fashion.

      3) Disassociation of nomenclature from ideals. In other words, we really don’t care what things are called. Marriage for many people is just a word.

      Take “Knight” for example. The Knights of Columbus are not really “Knights” under any honest definition of the term. Hell, most REAL “Knights” aren’t even Knights under any honest definition of the term, it has devolved into a simple honorific awarded by the English Crown to actors and other celebrities. Where monarchs still exist they are but shadows of what King and Queen meant.

      I think for most people, the same can be said for marriage. It isn’t perceived as special.

      Now, you may well be correct that it is mistake society is making… but those mistakes were already made decades ago and can’t be undone… this is just symbolism. Recognition that marriage as a sacred institution was thrown under the bus. We won’t get back to where it was by fighting the name change.

    16. I find this very interesting:

      “I think for most people, the same can be said for marriage. It isn’t perceived as special.”

      Not perceived as special? Then why are they and their allies fighting tooth and nail, in public relations and the media and the courts and the legislature, even trampling religious freedoms of others, to get this “marriage” label that is so un-special? Makes no sense. Of course, the strategy before this was to say that a “piece of paper” meant nothing. That didn’t work, so now marriage is “everything” I guess.

      Again, the “mistakes” we made with marriage before never changed the conjugal, complementary nature of it. Never. In fact, as I’ve said, the assumption was that even some of those invalid marriages could be rehabilitated. If we saw a civilly married couple (but not validly married in the eyes of the Church) walk down the street we would not know that it was not valid, and it could one day be valid. But watching two “married” men walk down the street? That could never actually be marriage, ever. No chance of validating that “union”, as there cannot ontologically be a marriage between two of the same sex. The world can say it is till the cows come home, in the same way that the state can now declare a man is a woman. But we know it doesn’t make it so.

    17. But Nicholas, I agree with you. Society does things out of emotions now (guilt, wanting everyone to feel “happy”, etc.) and political correctness. I agree. Most have stopped thinking, stopped caring about the meanings of words (even words which describe the foundations of stable society), stopped considering objective truth. This is not a great thing. And it’s exactly why the rest of us HAVE to buck that trend and speak.

    18. Nicholas Bollaert

      That is true. But I’d be lying if I said the fact that I see it as inevitable kind of saps the desire to bother.

    19. Nicholas Bollaert

      First, let me state that my answers are intended to answer the root question about progressive rationale.

      With regards to special – remember that Progressives see this as a civil rights issue. There is nothing special about the seats in the front of the bus or a whites only water fountain either. This is /perceived/ as a separate but equal issue.

      By not special I mean not magical. A lot of people don’t believe in God and so are not swayed at all by any supernatural importance of marriage.

      As an aside, I’ve heard at least 3 stories on NPR this week about how the current research is really starting to question whether free will even exists at all, or if every decision we make is based on our brain biology and sum experience :-p

      As far as the second part, see my previous comment on Knights. A fair number of people are choosing to use a different definition of marriage. They are in fact, redefining it. So an argument based on the definition is neatly sidestepped by changing the definition.

    20. Absolutely it’s all about redefinition of words. That’s how this whole thing works. If we can’t agree on what something means, then everything is up for grabs. It’s actually like the Tower of Babel. Interestingly, I have asked dozens upon dozens of gay “marriage” advocates to define marriage, and they can’t do it. The answers are astoundingly vague and meaningless, applicable to almost any relationships or contracts in the human experience.

      Yes, the “no free will” debate is turning into the “therefore there is no evil” discussion. So, even the most heinous crimes have no moral actor behind them. No one is culpable. We are machines. Scary world we are entering.

  5. When I considered myself progressive, I think the ultimate goal was to live and let live, and above all to please myself and be happy and satisfied as much as possible. These bigger questions about the direction of society didn’t really concern me!

    1. Nicholas Bollaert

      That is still probably a fair assessment for many. There is a decided lack of consensus on big picture societal direction issues.

    2. Yes! This is a big problem with comfortable Americans. We aren’t thinkers, we are feelers, and we want to feel happy and have pleasure. The bigger concepts like the virtues, and like honor, and like what we are leaving to our children and grandchildren (or what will happen to our souls and our children’s souls) are not questions we tend to worry about. Until it’s upon us.

  6. I will give you a more detailed answer soon, as time permits, however, let me say this as a progressive’s progressive. Peter Singer is an a$$ and should be sent back to Austrailia. Singer’s ideas come from Mary Ann Warren who has the dubious distinction of defining “human beings” and “persons”. By these two people’s definitions, my son, who is totally disabled and medically fragile is a “human being” but not a “person”. Peter Singer is a self styled bioethicist and supports everything from euthanasia to inter species sex…I have no use for this utilitarian crackpot who would justify T-4 in his warped evaluation of humanity. Sorry for the rant, but the name Peter Singer makes me want to have a stiff drink because my blood pressure soars.

    1. Nicholas Bollaert

      That is exactly the reply that the author’s POV wants – to establish there must be a baseline, which to them would be Natural Law.

    2. Phil, I am glad we agree that Peter Singer is wrong. I look forward to hearing your response to the article. I also wonder if you know that the abortion debate is now all about defining “personhood” and not determining human rights based on who is a human being. Science is clear on who is a human being of course (i.e., a new human being is begun at conception), but some humans now seem to believe they may decide who gets “personhood” status. That is subjective and dangerous; I am glad you agree. May I assume you are currently pro-life?

    3. I do not believe that a gamete, blastocyst or embryo (embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote) are human beings…I believe a fetus is a human being and a person. And yes, all human beings are persons!

    4. So, you disagree with science? On what authority or scientific basis do you discount that an embryo is a human being?

    5. Leila, I did not want to get into a debate; I thought you wanted to know what “progressives” felt about issues…I will not engage in an extended debate because it will change nothing. To answer your question, which I really hesitate to do, my “authority” is Aristotle and Aquinas on the theory of “ensoulment.” and viability. I expected a trap to engage in debate and I should not have trusted your desire to simply know where progressives stand. I am done with this post and will not reply. I need to trust those I dialogue and open my mind with. Signing off….I have better and more worthy thing to do, like taking care of my son. Wishing you the best….

    6. Nicholas Bollaert

      He appears to be done with the argument, but since ensoulment is a metaphysical concept, I don’t see why he would need a scientific basis. I am sure you will find plenty of people that don’t believe in the soul either… so the issue becomes a semi-arbitrary one based on development.

    7. Wait, you appeal to the ancient philosophers to decide when human life begins? That makes no sense. Also, you were the one who brought up a distinction between personhood and humanity (and decried the distinction), so I was merely following up, as I sensed that you weren’t as consistent there as you appeared (I’ve read you comment on other threads).

      For the record, even as Aquinas worked out his own thoughts on ensoulment, he never once approved abortion. In fact, he held it as completely forbidden and sinful.

    8. Nicholas Bollaert

      I am curious as to your scientific argument. Isn’t “human being” essentially a philosophical concept?

      Even if for sake of argument we agreed that life as a human being begins at conception, that still wouldn’t settle the debate.

    9. Nicholas, no. You have it backwards. It’s “personhood” that is a philosophical concept (and a good one, by the way; check Stacy Trasancos’ writings about where the concept of “personhood” originated). To be a human being is to be a member of the species Homo sapiens. If you want to know what secular science says about when human life begins, scroll down a bit and look at the embryology/medical/biology textbooks:

      And, it’s interesting to note that even atheist Peter Singer (whom Phil decries) admits freely that new human beings are begun at conception.

    10. Objectively speaking, all human beings are persons, no exceptions. No human being has to “prove” that he or she has human rights. Human rights just come with the fact of being human.

      Now, while all human beings are persons, not all persons are human beings (think, angels and the Persons of the Trinity).

    11. Well, of course the Second Person of the Holy Trinity did become a human being. 🙂

    12. Nicholas Bollaert

      Agreed. And I think the abortion argument is the strongest in the set. I think public acceptance of abortion is supported mostly by the blindfolds society erects to make the practice more palatable.

      The gay marriage argument is not as clear since the issue is less black and white.

    13. I’m not sure I agree with that. Marriage is nothing if not conjugal. It’s never been otherwise. Marriage would not even exist in society (and it’s an institution that is pre-political) if children did not come from the union of male/female.

    14. Nicholas Bollaert

      Yes but how marriage used to be is not especially relevant to how it is today for secular people.

      People treat marriage as a thing easily discarded and gladly use birth control with no stigma and have no issue with marriages with no children and unmarried people with children.

      That has become mainstream

    15. I guess you can either believe the science in this area or you can
      make up your own explanations.

      Again, there is no question about whether the gametes were living cells; obviously they were or conception could not have occurred. There is also no question, however, about gametes being individual living entities; they are not, they are simply constituent parts of an existing life. New life is created
      at conception

      “Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or
      germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).” (Essentials
      of Human Embryology. Toronto:
      B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2)

      “The development of a human being begins with fertilization…” (Langman,
      Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3)

      “The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life
      history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” (Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s
      Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3)

      Apparently the concept that life begins at conception is a fact so basic to the
      study of embryology that it is presented almost on the first page of these

      “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a
      critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically
      distinct human organism is thereby formed…. The combination of 23 chromosomes
      present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the
      diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now
      exists as a genetic unity.” (Human Embryology and
      Teratology, 1996, p 8)

      This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell
      that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.” (Essentials
      of Human Embryology. Toronto:
      B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2)

    16. Nicholas Bollaert

      You bring up a good point. Since most progressives do not adhere to a monolithic set of beliefs, it really is more of an umbrella term. Unlike Catholicism which would require you to believe in a core set of beliefs… you could have a progressive who is pro-life but also pro-gay marriage, etc.

      I also find that the progressive label applies to a huge swath of people with widely divergent areas of focus. Some might think gay marriage is the quintessential issue of the day, while others really are disinterested in such things and for whom the plight of the dolphins of Taiji is the most pressing moral issue.

    17. Nicholas, agreed. For the purposes of the OP, I stuck with the sexual progressives, sexual ethics. Otherwise, we’d be all over the place.

    18. Nicholas Bollaert

      I think I understand the crux of your argument, but since the target audience either aren’t religious, or deliberately leave religion out of politics, the natural law argument is a really hard sell… and is why the humanist position is all over the place since it lacks a central moral authority.

    19. Yes, except that Natural Law is attainable through reason alone, and does not require revelation to know it. That’s why we can have “Secularists for Life” and yet we will never have “Secularists for the Trinity”. It’s why atheist regimes do not have gay “marriage”, even though they reject God and religion.

      I think the truth can be seen here (for those we want truth and want to see) by simply answering questions about where the brakes are? Where does progress end? And why? The intellectually honest will eventually understand that if sex is about recreation and pleasure, as morally significant as eating ice cream, then we haven’t even scratched the surface of sexual progress.

    20. Nicholas Bollaert

      Alas I guess my first reply was eaten by the Internet. Where Natural Law and Social Constructs collide there is still a lot of gray area for a lot of people, which is where you will find gay marriage, etc.

      Society let traditional marriage degrade to the point where it could be reasonably argued it was little more than a public declaration of temporary romantic interest with some legal property laws attached. If you hold that opinion, it is difficult to argue not extending the “privilege” to homosexual couples.

      Same could be said for sexuality in general.

  7. Nicholas Bollaert

    What I am seeing is a side argument that the label “Progressive” isn’t always literally accurate. The same can be said of “Conservative.”

    The answer to the question is that Progressives will go as far as their consciences dictate. Just because there may be someone who wants to take an idea far (or even too far by our theoretical person’s standards) has little or no bearing on their ideas of what is right or wrong or how society should operate.

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