No, John, these are not the same

The response to my post about the way arguments by people endorsing re-baptism and people endorsing same-sex weddings seem to take the same form has united both camps.

Both have written me in private and public to say that I am off base. I’ve had more private e-mail on this post than any other I’ve written.

These two issues are not at all the same, they say. The other side is wrong. I am wrong in some way to compare them.

Of course, my post did not say that the issues were the same. I just said the way advocates on both sides form their arguments are similar. I suppose if you believe your position is right and other side is wrong, observations about the formal similarity of your arguments are not helpful.

I’m not even convinced that my observations were helpful or all that interesting. But I teach college students to construct and analyze arguments, so the similarity struck me as worthy of at least a mention.

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9 thoughts on “No, John, these are not the same

  1. I think the shape of the arguments, as I have heard them, is often close to identical. Well played, John.

  2. So I have re-read your original post.

    I would still agree the shape of the arguments is very similar.

    However, the premise in the introduction that both are done “without any consequences” does not hold at all equally for the two cases. Drop that qualifier and the whole of your case, premise and structural observation, would be much more sound.

    • Interesting. So you don’t think there are any places anywhere in the UMC where these occur without any consequences. An e-mailer is trying to convince me that this is a factual error, too.

    • I removed that paragraph, in part, because it has become such a distraction from the main point I was trying to make.

  3. Your analysis is spot on, John.

    However, it is a sign of the dysfunction in the Methodist world that the two issues within our system have spiritual & ecclesiastical equivalence. They literally stand next to one another in the Discipline — one a concession to theological conservatives who tend toward liturgial liberalism; the other, a concession to theological progressives who value liturgical tradition.

    One other un-examined factor in this is that many times a re-baptism happens without either pastor or baptized knowing such a thing has occurred. These days, many people simply don’t know if they were baptized as infants and many churches where such baptisms MIGHT have been celebrated either don’t keep good records or no longer exist.

    In a tidy world where an entire congregation grew up UMC and has a lifelong experience with our unique cultural language, it would be easy to ensure rebaptisms don’t take place.

    That world doesn’t exist anymore. In our world here with people coming from all kinds of different backgrounds and differening levels of church memory & involvement, it is difficult to know.

    At that point, at least, the comparison breaks down because there is no ambiguity about if or when a same-sex marriage takes place.

    • If I can distill everything down, I want to write a post that touches on all the ways people have pointed out that these issues are different, if only as a way of sketching out where the central concerns appear to lie with both sides. Nothing new will be in that post, but sometimes I find the reporting and restating of the facts is useful. I used to be a journalist, after all.

  4. John,

    I never thought your larger point was to compare the two “forbidden things” per se, but rather to indicate the degree to which arguments for doing the forbidden things were often very similar if not in fact identical in their form.

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