I’ve been rambling a bit; so thought I’d summarize with a ‘What I Meant to Say’ letter.
Ok; There’s sex and all the trouble that comes with it (not counting children), and there’s also the babies that result from sex. Humanity depends on children for its continuation. Society depends on well-formed children for its flourishing. Nature says deal with it. Marriage is the way in which mankind has dealt with it.
It does so by recognizing that children (as well as parents) have a proper, natural and significant interest in biological parentage, the loving formation offered by both father and mother and the clear cut legal responsibilities that come with parentage. The stability and security of that home is worthy of protection and encouragement. Anything that destroys that permanence- whether death, divorce or the initial absence of a committed relationship between the biological parents- is a loss for the child, and ought to be lamented.
For these reasons (among others) a marriage culture encourages the limitation of potentially reproductive sex to those who have made a permanent vow of sexual fidelity and companionship. Marriage thus places expectations on all the members of society- including the unmarried: for example, an attractive married man is ‘off limits’ and a couple ought to refrain from creating a child out of wedlock.
Complications dealt with… potentially in a very beautiful way.
But if we redefine marriage so as to be able to meaningful extend it to same sex couples, then it must be viewed by our legal system as nothing more than a statement of individual erotic expression-an emotional condition that might change at any time and will change at some time. The result is not the extension of marriage, but rather the loss of the institution of marriage- and the marriage culture- to everyone. Such an act abandons the issues of humanity, which the institution of marriage was created to both celebrate and navigate, despite the fact that they must be addressed. This new state of affairs would not be a simple pragmatic reality. It would be a legal reality.
My concern is not that I will rub shoulders with ‘married’ same sex couples. Not at all. My concern is that you all- my children- will not be able to find spouses who even understand what the commitment of marriage involves, and that if you find someone with such an imagination, then your attempts to live according to that ancient institution will find an enemy in the state. We have not even considered issues of conscience and the persecution (if not outright prosecution) that might result.
But that’s not all this is about. To the occasions of death, divorce and initial fatherlessness, we will add the legal affirmation that biological parentage and the involvement of both a father and mother are insignificant.
There are terrible and unfortunate occasions that deprive children of a home with both Father and Mother. We ought to recognize that many of these homes are incredibly loving, but this ought not include pretending that the situation doesn’t matter; and it seems to me that for those children who are deprived of the opportunity to know their biological parents or be loved and formed by both a mother and father, our society ought not taunt their desire with a legal position that declares their deep, deep longing to be misplaced, silly, ungratefully spoiled or oppressive of others.
You have friends without one or the other parent. No doubt they are thankful for what they have, and it may be that through the sacrifice of a parent who has to do the work of two, they have more than many others; but… do they wish for things to be different? Are they wrong, bigoted or confused to do so?
If we are to imagine a society which legally affirms that two fathers or two mothers are every bit as normative in every conceivable way as that of a mother and father who conceive and raise their biological children, then we must also reject the significance of gender. Besides the loss of the institution of marriage and the denial that children benefit from both a father and mother, I’m concerned about the rejection of a very unavoidable, important and beautiful part of our humanity. Why do we despise such a significant part of who we are; and does such discontent speak well of the health of our society?
More importantly, do we really believe that the reality can be changed by passing a law? Abraham Lincoln is said to have asked: ‘If you call a dog’s tail a leg, then how many legs would it have? I would answer four. Those who wish to ‘extend’ marriage would say five. Who has the better understanding of dogs?
I hope you notice that I’ve not argued against the value of Same Sex Relationships. I’ve argued against affirming them as equally significant to society as is marriage; and I’ve done this not because of ill will towards those who wish to commit to a long term relationship to a person of the same sex, but because of the realities of human nature which Marriage has successfully united throughout the history of mankind.
Just another way of saying what has already been said: It’s not about homosexuality. It is about marriage; and if this is a debate about whether an institution that Same Sex Couples are by nature and definition excluded from ought to be redefined so as to include them, then this is not about oppression, rights or equality.
By way of analogy: if we talk about extending the right of Pregnancy to men, then it’s a sure thing that we’ve changed the meaning of both ‘right’ and ‘pregnancy.’ Perhaps there are compelling reasons to make such a change, but it is dishonest to make it a civil rights issue, and unwise to leave the reality of what used to be called ‘pregnancy’ unaddressed.
Much more to talk about. Love you all more than you can know.
Letter I– The Discussion
Letter II– Equality
Letter III– Institutions
Letter IV– Human Stuff
Letter V– Children, Love and Sexual Restraint
Letter VII– A Commercial for the Opposition; Sorta