The Tragedy of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

by walterm on May 17, 2012

Since President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage last week, I have been terribly disappointed at how cheap the debate has been in the media, and especially how our president who claims to be a Christian could come to a conclusion that violates basic, undisputed teachings of the Christian faith. In his Good Morning America interview, he stated that after talking with gay friends, staff members, his two daughters and his wife, he arrived at his decision to support same-sex marriage. He also factored in his Christian faith and the “golden rule,” which is nowhere in the Bible despite popular belief. But how could he factor in Christian faith for something that is against the Christian faith? Personally, I don’t think it is possible, but that is between him and God to sort out. Apparently he doesn’t feel the Bible is the ultimate authority on these matters as much as he thinks his friends and family are (and as a typical politician, the gay lobby/voting block). But then again, since his views have been “evolving” on so basic an issue, it doesn’t appear the Bible was ever particularly authoritative for him in the first place.

What Obama would have you believe, as well as the mainstream media that shills for him (including some Fox News commentators), is that legalization of same-sex marriage is a matter that should be uncritically accepted with no thought to the societal consequences. It is this simplistic notion that I think severely degrades the debate, as if making wholesale changes to an institution that has been around since the dawn of civilization is something that can be implemented without serious thought or debate. And of course, if you don’t blindly go along with the program, then you are either a bigot or a homophobe. It cannot be that you see changing the very definition of marriage, which will affect laws, religion, politics, and society as a whole, as something that should take sober, reasoned and thoughtful consideration. Because the debate is purely emotional and lacking in any reasonable scholarship, I think we should all beware of the possible results. We have some who falsely compare this debate to the “interracial marriage” debate in the mid to late 20th century. Yet it is the fundamental ability to naturally procreate that grounds marriage as a natural right irrespective of race. So there should never have been a question about interracial marriage.

Throughout all of human history, societies have been shaped markedly by the various laws, customs and institutions involved in the institution of marriage and the family, and it is utterly foolish to believe that same-sex marriage will not play a significant role in changing the dynamic of the family from what it has been known to be traditionally. Those in favor of same-sex marriage seem to feel that an institution as fundamental as marriage can be infinitely flexible as they would have it, but if that is the case, then why don’t they include polygamous, polyandrous, polyamorous, or incestuous relationships in their definition of marriage when there is the consent of participating adults? Moreover, same-sex marriage discriminates against bisexuality, which is now recognized in the courts as a legitimate sexual orientation. Under same-sex marriage proposals, a bisexual cannot marry one person of the same sex and another of opposite sex, thus allowing that person to enjoy full sexual expression within the confines of marriage. So why are bisexuals excluded? Clearly, same-sex marriage advocates recoil from this because they know that fundamentally, when you have broken the traditional definition of marriage, then the definition becomes fully arbitrary. And those who might otherwise support same-sex marriage begin to see where this is ultimately headed.

In my view, our society as a whole loses if same-sex marriage is allowed to advance, because the insitution of marriage will become a purely instrumental one based on choice and autonomy, having no intrinsic value when unmoored from natural law as it has always been. Either marriage will continue to be defined as a sacred institution in accord with natural law, or it will become a purely subjective institution based on the varying definitions humans can come up with that they themselves determine are “committed, loving relationships.” As political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain argues in The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, & Morals, a wonderful book she edited with legal philosopher Robert P. George, marriage is not an instrumental good, but an intrinsic good whereby human beings can find integral fulfillment, with the marital act being a “two-in-one-flesh” communion of persons, one that is only made possible by the biological, emotional, and spiritual complementarily shared by man and woman. In her view, political neutrality between competing visions of marriage is impossible, so the law inevitably must support one or the other. Unfortunately, neither Obama nor the media invited George, Elshtain, or other thoughtful scholars to the debate, so Americans must settle for a superficial, emotionally driven one. And that is the tragedy.


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