A lot of things are disconcerting about the same-sex marriage debate. One of them–which I’ve already discussed–is the way that social conservatives were silent for too long in pairing a principled stand for traditional marriage (one Christian virtue) with sincere interest in the welfare of homosexuals as brothers and sisters (an even more important Christian virtue). But another comes from the opposite side of the political spectrum.
Eric Teetsel explains it harshly but clearly in a post for the Witherspoon Institute:
Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George recently wrote a masterful defense of what marriage is and why it matters. It is no exaggeration to say that their argument is the intellectual foundation for marriage advocates, used by the National Organization for Marriage, the Heritage Foundation, and others (including my own Manhattan Declaration).
What did the same-sex marriage movement do with this seminal book? They ignored it.
They don’t have answers to the authors’ claims; they don’t need them. Advocates of same-sex marriage aren’t concerned about the logic of their arguments or the precedents they establish. Forget facts; theirs is a more powerful weapon in the era of amusement: fad.
As I said: harsh. But I think Teetsel is largely right, even if it could have been expressed with more sensitivity. In almost all cases the “debate” goes something like this: support gay marriage or be tarred a bigot. With some exceptions that seems to be about it. It’s as though Americans who support gay marriage think that the Westboro Baptists genuinely represent the traditional marriage constituency.
With the upcoming Supreme Court decision, this debate may be winding down or moving on. Then again, maybe not. But in either case, I think it would be incredibly beneficial for those who support marriage equality to read the paper Teetsel referenced. It’s called “What Is Marriage?” and it appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. It’s not exactly short or light reading, but as Teetsel points out, it’s the actual expression of what defenders of traditional marriage actually believe. No matter how this debate plays out, I think that’s something worth understanding. Primarily, I might add, because I think while it may not be what gay marriage supporters want to hear (obviously), it’s notably free of what bigotry, animosity, or intolerance as a motivation. Vocal minority of fearful idiots notwithstanding, that’s not what the traditional marriage movement is really about.
So go ahead: give it a read.
2 thoughts on “Beyond Bigotry: The Real Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage”
I actually read the entire thing, and I really appreciate the comprehensive article. I have engaged in a few blog/private discussions and debates, mostly semi-anonymously, where the contents of this article have been vigorously explored, although not all at once. And my sisters and a few friends and I have exhausted our emails hashing out logic, language, tone, etc., and we still feel anxious diving into the public debate. Why mostly private? Because many of the fragile relationships in my family would explode. It’s back to the immediate bigot/fearful/backwards accusations and labels. Maybe that makes me somewhat of a coward.
I think one thing that truly threatens marriage today, which links to the same-sex marriage issue, is the commodification of children, something you have also discussed in the past. Once we started separating babies from sex, something that exploded into the mainstream with the advent of artificial birth control, we started to lose the marriage-children link. Of course, extramarital sex exploded, and society no longer views sex in the context of marriage.
Not only do we, as a society, spend a lot of time trying to prevent the conception of children even within marriages, but now we have added further technological advancements like IVF where we are creating children again outside of that bodily marital union. We are aborting children when we don’t want them. We are creating them to our specifications and our schedules. We are freezing them for future use. Even artificial insemination has created anonymous fathers with countless biological children out there. We are exploring the possibility of cloning, and recently we have seen “breakthroughs” where children have three biological parents thanks to the lab. Now same-sex couples, among other relationship arrangements, can have biological children as long as they have a third party participating. And with three biological parents, well, it only baffles me more that the revisionist theory would not embrace legal relationships with more than two people involved. California has already opened the legal doors for children to have more than two parents. To those who think this is all great progress, the methods for creating children or “planning” families seem irrelevant so long as the adults are satisfied. They don’t care that children can naturally and spontaneously spring from the bodily union of one man and one woman, because “progress” has changed all that for them. Society can move forward from that antiquated model.
I think there are strong arguments against our current societal treatment of children, whether it be abortion, IVF, excessive no-fault divorce, etc. But I am starting to lose hope in our ability to regain any coherent marriage or life culture. We seem to embrace just about everything, and this total breakdown is starting to feel inevitable. And this saddens me tremendously.
I’m sad to say that I didn’t find the linked article more impressive than I did. For instance, at some points the authors assert that even if reproduction is physically impossible between a man and a woman, marriage is still intrinsically good, therefore we should keep it anyway. Well, okay, then I’ll assert that gay marriage is also intrinsically good and we should adopt it anyway.
One thing that did really strike me, though, is how *obvious* the point is they are making about coitus. The conjugal understanding of marriage is so intuitive and so natural. I’m not criticizing them for making it; it’s just so depressing that our society no longer understands even such basic concepts. Reading this only reminded me that our society is slowly slinking in to another dark age; rather than Vandals and Goths, the destroyers of society this time are hypersexualized television and movies.
All the same, thanks for sharing the article.
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