I find that bad reasoning can influence my thinking as much as good reasoning. Is that the best you've got? I find myself thinking. Then maybe your idea ain't so great.
In the 1970's, I was exposed to a lot of Christians who believe that America's support of Israel figures prominently in the events of the Last Days. The general idea seemed reasonable enough to me. God seems to have Israel, the specific place, and Jews even when they aren't in Israel, as connected to the meaning of human history. Jesus was Jewish and the themes of his preaching assure us that's not accidental. The Holocaust and foundation of Israel were enormous and recent. America happened to be the world's preeminent power.
But the specifics of that, no matter how much people assured me they were straight from the Bible - you could look it up* - never seemed all that solid. There are a half-dozen general outlines, each with some possible variation, and none of them are convincing to me. Any of them could be true. I'm not saying they are false. But the evidence is scant, nowhere near what its proponents think. The books, videos, preachers, and teachers put forth bad arguments. And so, over the years, I have questioned whether America's foreign policy should be Israel-protective as one of its main objectives. The thought experiment pretend Israel is just one more nation in the world isn't very hard, actually. So the people who take that view also have an initial plausibility on their side. Sure, why not? Let 'em stand or fall on their own.
But when you let them keep talking, you find that they have bad reasoning as well. Specifically, a heckuva lot of 'em turn out to be anti-Israel and antisemites with very little poking. Online, it gets very difficult in comment threads to attend only to those people who at least seem to be Israel neutral - or well-wishing but unwilling to have America involved - because of the hordes of insane people chiming in. The excuses for Palestinian behavior, or Syrian/Lebanese/Iranian/whatever behavior are stunningly stupid. These are excuses you wouldn't accept from your teenagers for why they got a detention (not that any of my perfect children ever got a detention, you understand), but they hold up for nations?
Oh right, liberals are less likely to have ever had any teenagers, especially more than one. Maybe that's part of it. Though it can't be all of it.
So I am driven back in my first direction again. If the arguments against America supporting Israel are that mind-numbingly stupid, maybe we should be for it. We should at the least have the thought occur to us that America gets something back from this alliance, and have a little curiosity what that might be.
Recently, I have had the same experience in discussing same-sex marriage. As an evangelical, I have been exposed for years to the idea that the destruction of society, whether by natural consequences or direct punishment from God, will result from allowing - well hell, not just allowing SSM, but civil unions or homosexual behavior at all. While I agree with the general premises that 1) the family is not an accidental or optional vehicle for the training of the young and integrating them into society, but the only method that has been shown to work, 2) screwing with things that work invites disaster, and 3) permissions for homosexual behavior seem tied in theory to adultery, divorce, and Lord-knows-what-else - the opposing idea, that the right of the individual do do stuff they want to - is a fully American idea that deserves consideration.
Homosexuality has never been the key issue for me that it is for a lot of other Christians. I was a theater major and a dancer, for Pete's sake, and learned early to shrug at other people's sexual behavior. I have sexual sins of my own; working at a state hospital I have had all sorts of people with all sorts of problems who nonetheless deserve decent speech and general compassion. But primarily, I have never bought the idea that God puts it on the top of His list of things to complain about in other tribes. Idol worship seems to have captured that spot. For His own people, sure. The scriptures are more than plain that homosexuality is forbidden. Yet even here, it doesn't seem to be a dominant theme driving world-historical events. It's mentioned. It's forbidden. It is tied in to the general idea of the sanctity of marriage and the use of that image as a description of Christ's union with his church. Not much more.
So one would think that I would now be among those who shrug at the idea of SSM in America. What's the harm? Why is it my business? Yet as the debate intensifies we get the opposite effect. The arguments in favor - the arguments that people actually make - are ludicrous. You might convince me with great effort that a right discovered 30 years ago is indeed a Basic Human Right. We do extend ideas and see conclusions over time that may have been opaque to us before. But to insist that this new idea is just obvious, that only bigoted and intensely stupid people fail to recognise that changing the definition of marriage is something beneath even discussing, brands you as a hyperpartisan who is unable to even participate in a debate among reasonable people. To assume that opposition to SSM is the same as wanting to make homosexuality illegal is just the same as being opposed to civil rights for black people in the 60's is a set of huge logical leaps. I don't think gay rights in general are just exactly like racial civil rights at all, actually. Asserting louder that they are too doesn't help.
And of course, calling people bigots for disagreeing with you is always persuasive. I will say that in general, proponents of same sex marriage have not actually listened to their opponents' arguments. They have selectively listened to the worst arguments. That's fairly natural for all of us, but that's not good enough. I could play that game as well, noting that some proponents, if you let them fly, use language that makes it distressingly clear that they want the government to give the stamp of approval to SSM so that they can force it down the throat of mummy and daddy and their teachers and the straight kids from school that they ARE TOO OKAY!!! I don't take those folks into consideration when I'm discussing the general idea - everyone's got jerks and pathological people buried on their side somewhere, but it's best to seek out the reasonable people to talk to.
Yet here's the thing. In the debate over at Volokh, comment after comment, and even most of the posts, don't rise above the level of it's just obvious and you're a bigot. Not the first time I've encountered this over the last decade. Volokh is going to attract about the best disputants in favor of SSM you can find, and a few are pretty good. Yet even they slip into the Bad Reasoning.
It pushes me the other way. If that's the best argument you can make for SSM, then it's not such a great idea.
*When I hear that now, the insistence of a preacher that you should follow along in your Bible to insure they aren't misleading you, or the insistence of a congregant of following along to "check" on the preacher, I am convinced that I am in the presence of people who will make no sense. Trees. Forest.