Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gay Marriage

As a latecomer to the blogosphere on this issue, I'm tempted to think that "it's no use" in offering my convictions in the matter; nevertheless, I've come to understand that in order to hold a view, it's a good idea to write it down, and offer my thoughts to the public, though such puts me at risk of being ostracized and labeled with insults.  It's a brave thing these days to offer a dissenting view, and may even cost a job, or physical well-being.  In the least, it may cost--and does cost--the willingness to be abused on a verbal level.  But rather than heaping up abuse against those who differ, we should rather use our reason, avoiding emotional rule, and yet speak with care for others in a logical form of argumentation.  Such discourse is rare these days, sadly, and I've been guilty myself of lofting sardonic aphorisms, which help very little, if at all.  

On with the skinny.  The axiom of our day is twofold, and we exist under the umbrella of two cardinal rules in our society: tolerance and love.  These two concepts are conjoined twins that exist like Hermes' caduceus.  Under the canopy of these two, is written, "You can do anything you want, as long as you don't hurt anyone."  This is the supreme ethic of our day and the zeitgeist of  the 21st century.

It is upon this ethical spirit that the gay marriage proponent rests: tolerance, love, and the injunction of "do whatever you please, but please, don't hurt anyone in the process."  It is therefore intolerable to dissent from the gay marriage proposal, as doing so reeks like the underside of Shelob's belly (what a miserable creature She was.  Way to go Samwise Gamgee!).  Nevertheless, dissent is integral to human society and flourishing; without it, we are nothing more than lemmings rooting for the underdog, just because the Yankees can afford all the good players.  On with the dissent then.  But my dissent from gay marriage is going to come in the form of a few questions (with comments, too).

Let's consider these aforementioned qualifications (the tolerance/love ethic) and our current, unwritten laws that people hold in their minds when thinking of gay marriage, and let's ask some hard questions.  But first let's accept the fact that such consideration in asking hard questions is most certainly not a slippery slope argument.  A slippery slope argument is predictive of future states of affairs.  These questions are not assuming a realm of being that is inevitable in the future, but rather they are aimed at why we justify some laws but not others, when such justification is built upon the tolerance/love ethic.  

1) If it is true that we must tolerate other people out of love, then why cannot people who believe in holding to a traditional view of marriage as between one man and one woman be treated with admiration and respect?  The answer is because such a view is intolerant of homosexuals who would want to get married.   But the question still stands: given the tolerance ethic, all views should be tolerated and respected, and therefore, one who stands firm in the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman should be tolerated and respected--because that is what tolerance is.  The reason why this is difficult to do is because tolerance as an abstract concept is meaningless unless it is grounded in the concrete absolute of a moral law.  Tolerance, all by itself, is built upon itself, and argues in a vicious cycle of circular reasoning: Tolerate all views, but tolerance is the supreme law.  It's built upon a wheel of relativism, and cannot accomplish the goal it sets out to achieve apart from a transcendent moral law.  Moral laws such as this only make sense in a theistic framework, and theism in the forms we know of (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) exclude homosexual acts from the realm of acceptable behavior.  So, back to square one: if tolerance be the rule we all must follow, how can people hold dissenting views from the populace (or minority) and themselves be tolerated?  I argue that it is not possible on an epistemological plane (leads to moral relativism), and while it's tough politically, it is possible.  But the existential plane is the toughest: how to live with fellow citizens who disagree with me, and even vote against my desires?  In a democracy, tolerance needs to work, and it needs to work both ways.  We tolerate each other for each others' views, while accepting that we hold to different values concerning ethics.  Vote, and accept the vote without recourse to slander and revenge tactics (in the case of the former link, there are numerous stories of homosexuals taking revenge on heterosexuals.  Note: heterosexuals should NEVER harass or harm homosexual people.  They are made in God's image and deserve to be treated with dignity). 

2) Love:  "If two people love each other they should be able to marry." This sounds simple enough and true, for love is the other supreme ethic of our day, as it should be.  But, let us ask and think for a moment: what is love?  Is it an emotion?  Is it a decision of commitment?  Is it a contract or covenant?  Is it self-sacrifice?  If someone loves someone else, does that mean they should be married?  Is that the only rule required to be met in order to marry?  Nicht so schnell.  When people utter this normative ethic, they have a number of things in mind:

a) A couple, comprising of two, and only two people. This leaves polygamy out (but is that fair?). 
b) Adults, and not minors, may marry (with exceptions from state to state: pregnancy, parental consent or court approval).    
c) Not related.  This leaves out siblings, cousins (in about half of the United States, and includes exceptions and conditions, such as non-procreative laws, genetic counseling, and prohibition of double first cousins only).  And of course, people are not allowed to marry their nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, or parents.
d) Human.  Obvious, but still....When people say, "Two people who love each other should be allowed to marry," they presuppose the moral law that humans should only marry humans.  But what if--what if--someone wanted to marry her horse

But how is it that love is the only requirement necessary for two people to marry?  And if homosexuals marry, who are we as a society to prohibit polygamous marriage?  And who are we to deny someone the right to marry his sister, mother, or aunt?  There is indeed, something inside us that says, "No, that wouldn't be right."  True--it wouldn't (although, whether on an evolutionary account, or the Genesis account--our origins are dependent upon inter-sibling unions).  And why should we not allow grown men to marry boys?  That's ridiculous, I know--though some men would want to do it.  We call them pedophiles.  They call it "intergenerational love," and NAMBLA.  Nevertheless, I'm asking you: how would you formulate a cogent argument against such a thing? Who are you to say a man shouldn't marry a boy, after all?  On what grounds do you do so?  What if the boy says he wants to consent?  And on and on.  Sexual ethics matter, don't they?

My conviction is that gay marriage is not good for society.  This is because it redefines marriage and flattens it into something amorphous, which is defined by the relative terms "tolerance" and "love," with no epistemological referent to what tolerance and love actually are.  Now, we live in a post-Christian United States, but it's important for my readers to understand that I hold to the Christian view of God, man and the world.  So then, the Christian concept of love is that love is rooted in God's character, which is goodness, holiness, justice, righteousness and love.  These attributes work in conjunction with each other, and are reflected in the created order (male and female) and in his holy law given at Mt. Sinai to Israel though Moses.  This is the Christian view of love and marriage, and to ask me to keep my views out of the public square is really to ask me to not be a Christian, because being a Christian means allowing the word of God to speak to every area of my life, including education, economics, law, and so forth.  (I don't advocate a theocracy, so chill).  

The second reason for my dissent from the popular view is that homosexual sex between men is highly dangerous in terms of disease, depression, and physical harm.  The Center for Disease Control's Fact Sheet shows the dangers of this activity.  The second line reads, "MSM (men who have sex with men) account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the United States each year (61%, or an estimated 29,300
infections)."  A moral society should not promote sexual patterns which result in such perils of disease and depression--depression which often leads to suicide.

Finally, gay marriage does indeed open the door wider in a society of an already crumbling, family ethos.  Society no longer deems it normal for a family to exist in the form of a husband and wife with their children (even having more than two is out of the norm).  Gay marriage then, produces a mindset in culture that not only eschews the traditional family as the ideal, but also encourages that ambivalence towards it.  And it's a strange thing, because studies are on the increase that children do best when nurtured by a mother and father, and that in a situation where there is a single income (something very difficult to do today).  See economist Richard Wolff on this. 
 
Alternate scenario.  Let's say god doesn't exist.  If there is no god, or if god exists, but has not revealed his will and character to us, then of course, there is no moral law, and there is no reason to prohibit marriage to anyone.  On such a scenario, perhaps humans would still flourish, but more than likely, in a society, as studies show, humans flourish where monogamous marriage is the way of life.  For a study on this go here.  





5 comments:

RHammer said...

Very well written. Thanks for posting.

Chris Van Allsburg said...

Thanks,Rachel!

Josh VH said...

What exactly is "marriage"? The definition is always assumed in these discussions, but rarely clarified. Is it a legal contract recognized by the state? Is it a religious covenant recognized by God? Could it be both? What if you are an atheist? Was Mel Gibson's character Robert the Bruce in the movie "Braveheart" not really "married" because the ceremony took place in secret, without consent of the state? What if the religious cleric had not shown up and the vows were taken with absolutely no witnesses? What about civil unions? What if a gay couple marries in Switzerland and then moves to the States? Is it possible to be married on one side of the ocean, but not the other? How can a politician married multiple times give any moral objectivity to the topic? Why should a committed gay couple not get the same tax breaks, or other legal benefits that married couples get?
Thanks, Chris for clearing all this up for me!

Chris Van Allsburg said...

Good questions, Josh. Marriage should be defined in essence as a union between a man and a woman; moreover, that union should be recognized by the community of people in which this couple exists, whether church, State, tribe, or whatever. In our context, marriages are recognized by the Church and the State. (By Church capital C, I mean all baptized Christians--and/or their children--everywhere who call on Jesus Christ as Lord).

Laws should be implemented and recognized by citizenry of the geographical locale in which the citizens are located. So, if Switzerland has a definition of marriage not congruent with our own, we would not recognize it.

As far as gay couples getting tax exemptions--that is not what this is about at all. It's about redefining marriage, and it's about inculcating the culture to not only accept homosexuality, but to advocate for its moral goodness. As a Christian, this I cannot do.

Braveheart: when the State becomes tyrannical, as in Nazi Germany, the Church must resist the State and rebel against it. So yes, the two were married, even though the couple's ceremony was in secret.

A politician who is a hypocrite and a liar can still speak to the truth of a matter. Even liars tell the truth, and when a liar defends the truth regardless of purpose or selfish gain, the truth still stands.

It's a logical fallacy called "poisoning the well" when we dismiss an argument based not on its own merits but on the hypocrisy of the one presenting it. Nevertheless, it's difficult to believe people when their lives are a seething mess of hypocrisy.

Josh VH said...

Marriage is a tricky issue because both the church and the state claim rights to it's definition. Personally i feel the state should have no say in defining it nor granting any perceived status to such definition. I agree with you completely as far as the agenda of the LGBT community is concerned, but if it were not a governmental issue each community or church would have their own definition of the word. One group (Church) would simply not recognize the other group's (LGBT) definition of marriage. And then what? Nothing. The status would exist simply in the minds of God, the beholders, and their peers (in the strictest sense). Perhaps I should do some personal research into exactly when, and how the government became involved in marriage, as I confess I don't know, but I know it is. Since we do not live in a Theocracy every side will have their say in the matter. I am afraid that the traditional definition of marriage will come to be redefined in a way @ least a few groups will oppose. That is the way of a Republic when it messes with religious matters. Sadly, in today's culture the definition of marriage, regardless of who does the defining, means little as individuals do however they choose without regard to such "definition."