Marriage Debate Gets Heated

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We live in interesting and pivotal times. The latest illustration of this is the U.S. Supreme Court’s addressing of “same-sex marriage” and constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. The public discussion on “same-sex marriage” has been fascinating in the differences in how the debate has been approached by people on both sides. It has also been infuriating at times. More on this later.

First, and central to the discussion, is this simple question: What is marriage? If we can’t answer that question honestly and openly, then the discussion goes off the rails quickly. Marriage, as has been understood and accepted throughout human history, is the union of a man and a woman. This definition was not established by organized religion but has been accepted and followed by principle world religions from Christianity to Hinduism. As understood for thousands of years, marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and development of marital and family bonds. These bonds are a bedrock of society. In other words, it’s more than two people merely loving each other. It’s two people loving each other and giving of themselves to both advance and stabilize society through procreative and united acts. It’s giving children the right to have a mother and a father – a proven societal stabilizer.

With these definitions laid out – it’s clear why I believe the term “same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron (and why I place them between quotation marks). Let me make something else perfectly clear: I am not condemning homosexuals nor am I saying they don’t have a right to have relationships with whomever they wish to. I am merely establishing the definition and purpose of MARRIAGE.

Let’s stop here for a second, because it is at this point in the discussion where those who want to change the definition of marriage start to get a little unhinged.

“Half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce!”

“Gays/lesbians have rights, too”

“Two consenting adults should have the ability to say ‘I love you’”

“Not all heterosexual marriages lead to children”

All of the above statements are absolutely correct. But how does redefining marriage change these facts? As I stated above, Americans of all stripes have the right to love whomever they want. No change in the definition of marriage will change that. Today’s high divorce rate is not an indictment of the definition of marriage nor does it demand that it be changed. What it points to is a sad reflection of how we as a society have totally disregarded the definition and true meaning of marriage. Redefining marriage does not guarantee that the spirit and true meaning of marriage will be saved and restored – for the simple reason that it changes what marriage is to begin with.  Lastly, a couple who can’t have children (for whatever reason) doesn’t de-legitimize their marital union. They are still a couple naturally oriented towards procreation because of their biological compatibility. To steal an analogy used by Professor Robert George, a losing baseball team (even the Miami Marlins) doesn’t stop being a team due to the fact that it is oriented towards winning, even if their orientations don’t result in victories.

After these arguments are laid out and addressed, all you have left is the civil rights argument. Now this is where proponents of marriage re-definition start to really lose it.

Cases in point:

- Recent segment on CNN’s Piers Morgan Show in which the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, after respectfully laying down point after solid point, gets talked down to like a little boy by Piers Morgan and Suze Orman. A clear example of what happens when people lose the argument, they attack the person.

- Next is a letter from Broward County (FL) Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar to his Republican counterpart Tom Truex asking him to join those who support the redefinition of marriage because “it is both a legal and human rights issue. How can we explain to a gay or lesbian veteran of Iraq that they are less than a full citizen”. Ceasar goes on to write: “Tom, you are a loving and decent person. Please join me in this civil rights/human rights cause”.

Oh, brother! Talk about laying down the guilt trip in full, patronizing fashion. I put Mitch Ceasar’s letter through a BS-filter here’s what came out: “Tom, you don’t want to be like those mean, nasty, Republican bigots, do you? People are coming over to my side of this issue. If you still want to be considered as a decent, loving man, you better agree with me”. Sounds like a schoolyard-bully comment, doesn’t it?

In the end, these responses, in addition to being disappointing and contrary to honest, reasonable debate, serve to be anti-climactic in light of the importance of the issue. But, I repeat, this is the response of individuals who have lost the intellectual argument and can only win by playing to people’s emotions by attacking individuals instead of honestly debating their beliefs.

Speaking of civil rights: Dennis Prager cogently writes in this well-written and thoughtful article:

To argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is immoral is to argue that every moral thinker, and every religion and social movement in the history of mankind prior to the last 20 years in America and Europe was immoral. About no other issue could this be said. Every moral advance has been rooted in prior moral thinking. The anti-slavery movement was based on the Bible. Martin Luther King, Jr. was first and foremost the “Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.” and he regularly appealed to the moral authority of the scriptures when making his appeals on behalf of racial equality. Same-sex marriage is the only social movement to break entirely with the past, to create a moral ideal never before conceived. It might be right, but it might also be an example of the moral hubris of the present generation, the generation that created the self-esteem movement: After all, you need a lot of self-esteem to hold yourself morally superior to all those who preceded you.

Like I said at the top, these interesting times will only get more and more interesting in the coming weeks and months.

4 Responses

  1. Yes. The main point about marriage is that it’s about encouraging the raising of children in the best possible environment. This doesn’t mean that gays can’t raise children or that all marriages have to produce children. It means that since men and women are going to have children it’s best to encourage them to live in the way that best promotes the welfare of those children. Also, it’s obvious that some of the people who are most in favor of same-sex marriage are hostile to the traditional idea of marriage.

    SSM should be left to the states rather than the federal courts. Let the states where majorities favor SSM legalize it legislatively and see how things work out in twenty years or so. That is the least harmful way to test the idea.

    While they’re at it, state legislators should end no-fault divorce, eliminate the anti-male bias in our legal system and increase tax exemptions for working people with kids. Such reforms would go a long way toward encouraging people to have children and stay married, which would benefit everyone in the long run.

    • Thanks, Jonathan. I agree with your points. No-fault divorce is another biggie and one of the main reasons marriage has lost its meaning over the past few decades.

  2. Jonathan, agreed. I’ve always believed that the “federalizing” of these activities was a grave mistake. Take abortion: you are now seeing some states enact tough laws that are well within their jurisdiction and purview. As much as I hate it, as much as I think it is murder, it should be left for the states to decide. (As well as SSM, and all the rest.) Our system cannot work otherwise.

    But here’s the delicious irony: once states start asserting their rights under the Tenth Amendment again, the libs are going to scream bloody murder when they enact something they don’t like.

  3. BTW, Robert, it’s good to have you back.

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