Friday, June 26, 2009


In my "inbox" this morning (from several different sources ... thank you ALL!) was this great point/counterpoint exchange published earlier this month in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Counterfeit brand
Public Forum Letter -- 06/08/2009 [source link]

I recently read an article about brand counterfeiting -- when someone makes something that looks like a well-known brand and sells it as that brand. One of the brands mentioned was New Balance shoes. This is a big problem for New Balance, as it is for many other manufacturers. New Balance makes a quality product, and it has worked hard to create its reputation. When someone sells inferior shoes under its brand it damages that reputation. No one would complain if these people made and marketed their shoes as their own brand. The problem occurs when they try to pass their shoes off as New Balance shoes.

Now, there's another type of brand counterfeiting going on. There's a brand called marriage. This brand has been defined from the beginning as being between a man and a woman. But there are some people who want to create something else and call it marriage. No one would complain if these people would make and market their relationships as their own brand. The problem occurs when they try to pass off their relationships as marriage.

Homosexual relationships are not marriage. Call them what you want, but don't counterfeit the existing brand.

Steve Jones
South Jordan


Worthwhile knockoffs
Public Forum Letter -- 06/17/2009 [source link]

Steve Jones argues that homosexual relationships imitate "the existing brand" of marriage in the same way that counterfeit shoes imitate the New Balance brand name ("Counterfeit brand," Forum, June 9). Jones claims that since the beginning of time the marriage brand has been defined as being between two humans of opposite sex, and that it is unacceptable to change it to mean something different.

If Jones is a Mormon, Joseph Smith created a new brand of religion by breaking away from the standard faiths. Is the LDS Church "counterfeit"?

If Jones is patriotic, the brave men and women of the Revolution created a new brand of country by separating from England. Is the United States "counterfeit"?

Does Jones value the respect and dignity of every human being? We need to expand the terms "respect" and "dignity" to include same-sex couples.

Change in society and culture is vital to our world. Homosexual marriage is not counterfeit, and it does not make traditional marriage any less meaningful. I am proud that my birth father is gay, and the love between him and his partner is not fake or counterfeit. It should not be compared to a knockoff pair of sneakers.

Helena R. Duncan
Cottonwood Heights


Katie B said...

I might be wrong here, but the logic of Mr. Jone's arguement leads to the conclusion that a marriage between a man and a woman based on love and mutal consent is merely a counterfeit of ACTUAL traditional marriage which could involve multiple women and was rarely based on love and mutal consent. You can't beat the original, right?

P.S. Can I ask a dumb question since this is a semi-anonymus (and therefore less embarrassing forum)? Is it Reverend Russell or Mother Susan or Mother Russell or...? I was raised Greek Orthodox and so women weren't allowed in the alter nevermind being allowed in the alter as priests. While as an adult I have defintely embraced a more inclusive idea of Christianity(although I am not sure quite where that will lead me in practical terms yet), I find that I often lack legistical data in more inclusive religious situations. As the above question demonstrates. Thanks for the help!

LGMarshall said...

Re H. Duncan's rebuttal..."I am proud that my birth father is gay, and the love between him and his partner is not fake or counterfeit'.

Steve Jones never said their (said) love was fake... he said "Homosexual relationships are not a Marriage." You can certainly love someone of the opposite sex, Bible believers agree on that.

From a Judeo/Christian teachings (which everyone has free will to accept or reject -- hey more power to you!) .... 'Marriage' is defined in Genesis (the beginning)as 1 Man & 1 Woman. "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she (female) shall be called woman (female), for she (female) was taken out of man (male).... for this reason a man (male) will leave his father(male) and his mother (female)-- [who are'Married'], and be united to his wife (woman), and they will become one flesh. ('Marriage'.)

Two men (males), cannot become 'One Flesh', and two women (females) cannot become 'One Flesh'. (2 counter-parts make a whole.) Its like two puzzle pieces that fit together. If you have 2 puzzle pieces that are the Same, they cannot fit together, at least in terms of Biblical teachings.... 'One Flesh'. 'Adam (male) lay with his wife (female) and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. ' GEN 4.

A reconfiguration of all/any of the above, does not change the teachings of the Judeo-Christian Holy Scriptures that were God-breathed.

If you don't think Holy Scripture is God-breathed, again, you have a right to believe that. (but, I respectfully question why you attend a Christian Church?)

The difference between a 'Church Goer' and a Born again Bible Believer (Jesus said, You must be Born-again) is that.... Bible Believers accept the Word of God, even though it goes against their own personal desires, and their own intellectual machinations.

Jesus said, 'those who desire to come after me, must deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me.'

'The Lord (masculine form) formed the man (male) from the dust of the ground and breathed into his (male) nostrils the breath of life.... The Lord said, It is not good for man (male) to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him (male)... he (God the Father) took one of the man's (male) ribs and made a woman (female)from the rib , and he brought her (female) to the man (male).' GEN 2.

After reading this, if you still call Born-Again Bible Believers Hateful and Bigoted -- That's unfair and unduly harsh.

You can live your life any way you please, but if you are sitting in a Church pew on Sunday (there may be a Bible on the bottom shelf, next to the kneeler), pick it up, open it, humble yourself, pray, ask God himself, (not your pastor) to walk you through His Truths. God is Faithful.

WilliamK said...

Katie B,
I look forward to reading Mother Susan's reply to your question about how to refer to/address her.

My version of an answer starts by noting that things are a bit "complicated" in the Episcopal Church. Some Episcopalians (myself among them) do the same as Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox and address and refer to (male) priests as "Father," and we extend this practice to female priest by referring to them as "Mother." Some of our priests--both men and women--prefer not to be called "Father" or "Mother," for a variety of reasons. The Associate Rector at my parish, for example, is a woman who doesn't really like being addressed as "Mother" while our rector is a man who is fine with "Father."

I've tended to refer to "Mother Susan" and simply hoped she wouldn't mind me following the practice I'm comfortable with.

MarkBrunson said...

The Bible isn't God. It was written by humans. Many types of marriage are called marriage in the Bible. Adam and Eve are a myth, even by the Judeo part of Judeo-Christian standards, and by the greater division of the Christian part.

Still no validity to your argument, Marshall.

MarkBrunson said...


You do realize that God-breathed is expressed more succinctly by the exact corollary "inspire?"

Many people have been inspired by God, and done exactly the wrong thing with that inspiration, made mistakes with what God was telling them.

You can live your life any way you please, but if you are sitting in a Church pew on Sunday (there may be a Bible on the bottom shelf, next to the kneeler), pick it up, open it, humble yourself, pray, ask God himself, (not your pastor) to walk you through His Truths. God is Faithful.

You've been told, time and again, that that is exactly what we do.

You are not a prophet nor a teacher, but an abusive, sullen, self-righteous pedant. If no one else will tell you that, I will. This is a "brotherly rebuke" - what you're putting forward is not "God's Word" but your word.

You can argue, as I've not doubt you will, but the fact that you lack the ability to convince anyone here - people steeped in the Scripture, Prayer and Reflection - shows that your words are devoid of connection with the Spirit.

Go and reflect then come back, if you have anything valuable for once.

Laura Toepfer said...

In my opinion, "The Bible is against it" is not a strong argument for not allowing gay people to enter into the state contract we call marriage. The Bible may or may not be against it and we can argue about that all night. But why should that keep, say, atheist gays or lesbians from marrying if they wish?

There may be a legitimate state reason for not allowing gays and lesbians to marry, but I have not heard a persuasive argument to that effect. The arguments all seem to stem from the basis of whether gay marriage is "right" or not--at least from what I've heard. But just as with divorce or abortion or infidelity or war or women in the workplace or the legal drinking age, the morality of it is one thing, the legality of it is another.

The "counterfeiting of marriage" argument is a strange one. What I hear him saying (and I know I could be wrong) is that "marriage between two people of the same sex isn't marriage because marriage is between two people of the opposite sex. Therefore marriage between two people of the same sex isn't marriage." That's not even an argument. That's just...odd.

If there's a compelling reason to keep gay couples from marrying, I'm willing to hear it. Truly. This "counterfeiting" thing, however, is not it.

Марко Фризия said...

But I am married to another man, a flesh-and-blood human being, not a shoe.

Марко Фризия said...

@Laura Toepfer
In trying to find common ground with people who believe the Bible condemns same-sex behavior, I find I am in partial agreement. I do think same-sex behavior is truly an abomination, but only if it is done very badly.

By the way, this is an attempt on my part to make a joke.

Paul (A.) said...

LGMarshall, why are you putting words into God's mouth? Isn't that blasphemy?

Genesis never uses the term "marriage" -- that is your insertion. Consider that "one flesh" is contrasted in Scripture with "strange flesh" -- sexual relations between men and angels.

And Jesus was not purporting to give a definition of who marriage is to be limited to, but rather was responding to a question about whether divorce "for any reason" was proper.

Just as you shouldn't be reading things into the Bible that aren't there, so also you should read the things that are. Or does your copy leave out the story of David and Jonathan?

The Pilgrim said...

His analogy does not hold up.

Yes, Joseph Smith broke away from the established religions, but he did not take his congregations under the name "Methodis" or "Roman Catholic" and then try to fool the poplace into thinking that his churches were actually something else.

The Founding Fathers did indeed break away from England, but they proclaimed loudly the differences between the new and the old. They did not try to convince the rest of the world that these colonies were, in fact, England with a queen and a parlaiment.

There may be arguments out there for gay marriage, but this one isn't it. It's counterfeit.

Hank said...

As a happily married hetero conservative anglican (former episcopalian), I do not, personally, find the counterfeit/knock off terminology of much use. Implicit in the argument is that the love two people feel for each other is not real- something we could all agree is false- the agape gate swings both ways and so does eros- inside and outside of same sex and opposite sex relationships.

I do think that God knows what he is doing. If all the political turmoil, leadership void and silliness inside TEC drives me from distraction to a conservative anglican mission church and thence to my knees, repentance, and the restoration of my marriage, is that not good? Similarly, if an open door in TEC allows a gay person to enter that door because they are welcome and knowledge of the Lord's grace and forgiveness is that no also good?

I do not condone homosexuality because I believe it is sinful, but I do not get to be the judge. Marriage, as an institution will do just fine, with or without changes in the laws of the 50 United States-I chose to go to a church that does not perform same sex marriages; others choose a different way- but we can both find the Lord's redeeming grace- isn't that the important thing?

Of course, once he touches you, there's no accounting for what he might do with your life...He might incline your heart to do His will not yours!

susankay said...

Why no discussion of the "Brand Counterfeiting" taking place under the aegis of the former Bishop of Pittsburgh?

Too tired and bored to tackle literal truth of ONE of the Genesis creation stories (and why do they always pick the "rib" one not the "male and female He created them" one?

IT said...

LGM's and other arguments against marriage on Biblical grounds only apply to church marriages. They have no place in a discussion of civil, secular rights.

As for traditional marriage, what tradition?

Katie B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie B said...

@WilliamK Thank you! I am going to go with Mother Susan unless otherwise instructed. It sounds a lot more natural to me now that I think about it. The funny bit of this whole thing is that when I am home in the States these days I attend an Episcopal church with a female priest and the Anglican chaplin at my college is a woman. I have just avoided refering to them without the aid of a pronoun and have not been able to catch what everyone else says. I know it is a stupid thing but stupid things like that matter to me. :)

uffda51 said...

The LGBT community does not need the approval of the straight community.

Not “condoning” homosexuality is a non sequitur. It’s a bit like not condoning photosynthesis, or gravity, or the planet Jupiter. It’s a part of the natural world, and part of the natural spectrum of human sexuality. There is no correlation between character and sexual orientation, just as there is no correlation between character and skin color, or as many conservatives once believed, having red hair or being left-handed. The evidence is empirical. Not even the narrowest out-of-context interpretation of anyone’s conception of “The Word of God” can change that.

There was no governmental barrier to the marriage of Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker. There has been no heavily funded state or national campaign to create a constitutional amendment to prevent imprisoned felons from marrying.

Why should we apply the Bronze Age level of knowledge of human sexuality to our state or U.S. constitution? We don’t live by Bronze Age standards of agriculture, education, astronomy, transportation, communication, housing, commerce, medicine, etc.


Katie B's "P.S." ...

Sorry for the delayed response on this ... have been too busy to do much other than try to keep comments moderated much less write anything myself.

I'll answer to almost anything but my PREFERENCE is my baptismal name ... AKA "just Susan is swell."

I am not attracted to the "Mother" thing and I am even less attracted to the "Father" thing ... believing that as a priest my vocation is about being (on a good day) an icon of the priesthood of all believers and feeling that a lot of the problems IN the church are the result of centuries of clericalism and patriarchy which putting clergy in a "parental" role by virtue of our nomenclature doesn't help.

At All Saints Church we don't do titles at all for clergy ... at least not officiallly. (What they call us behind our back is up to them! :)

So in reference, I am "The Reverend Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Incorporation & Communication ..."

In conversation I am "Susan"

And if you really can't stand not to do the Mother thing I'll be gracious about it. ("Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey" and all.)

Hope that helps.

susankay said...

I found Hank's response one I can live with and honor. Thank you, Hank.

(weird word is manatees)

Katie B said...

Since I am already fighting the urge to kiss the hand of anyone in a collar (My grandfather nearly died when I refused to do so a couple times as an admittedly willful child and afterward my mother nearly killed me when we got home ), I think I can honor your request to omit the "Mother" :) Truly though, thank you for the help on this seemingly unimportant and yet somehow very important matter.

MarkBrunson said...

The Pilgrim,

"O, kettle thou art black!"

The only way your analogy holds up is if gay people are telling folks that we're marrying people of the opposite sex. Think before you write, please.

Joseph Smith didn't call it Methodist or RC, but he did call it a church. We didn't call it England, but we did call it a country. Again, think before you write, please.

fortune_cookie_2828 said...

Mark Brunson,

I did think before I wrote. I thought about all of the hardships that the members of the GLBT community face because others won't accept who they are and feel threatened by the idea of two homosexuals marrying. I thought about how change in society has done us well, has done us apart, has made changes in this world for the better and for the worse. I thought about the struggle for women and blacks to be able to vote, the struggle for equal rights of all peoples, the sorts of things that make our nation what they are today. When I wrote that letter, I wanted Mr. Jones to look at it and think, "Well. That puts a new perspective in my head." That perspective is one of equality and toleration, of allowing others to live and let live, of accepting and promoting change. I found the original analogy of gay marriage to fake sneakers to be an insulting one.

LGMarshall, you're right, Steve Jones never said the love was fake...But if the love is real, doesn't marriage come as a way of showing that committment and love?

As for the religious sides being brought up, I believe that church (religion and peoples' personal beliefs) and state (marriage being a government affair) should be kept separated. Using the Bible as an excuse, or a reason, for or against a political topic makes me sad that people are so divided in the real world because of what they are taught by a church.

P.S. Rev. Susan, thank you so much for putting my letter on your blog, and I am overwhelmed that it caused so much feedback, much of which has opened new perspectives for myself.