POSTED BY on 8:54 PM under
So someone in the comboxes is confused. He seems to think that a Catholic can support so-called gay marriage. Well...he can't. To do so with knowledge of the error makes you a heretic. 'Nuff said for Catholics. Don't believe me? Ask a bishop. Heck, ask the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. If you think this is a teaching which we can take it upon ourselves to "correct" then you don't know jack about Catholicism. If it's that important to you, you'd better learn.

Ok. I could have posted that in the combox. Why take up a post? Because we need to do more than just put forth religious arguments. Most of the folks ranting about this don't care what religious arguments are out there. Most of the folks ranting about this are so damaged they don't care about God at all. Ahh...there but for the grace of God go I. It's important to remember that without God's grace we wouldn't care either. But I digress.

So what's the secular argument against so-called same-sex marriage?

I'm glad you asked.

We'll start with a brief recitation of why marriage was recognized by the government to begin with. It wasn't about love and it wasn't about religion. It was about controlling how baby-making activity takes place.

Let me 'splain. Men and women are going to have sex whether the government is involved or not. That's just how we're wired. Call it evolutionary instinct if it makes you feel better. Now...there are two ways for people to go about having sex. The first way is for a guy to irresponsibly dip his wick in whatever pot he finds. That makes for lots of single moms and fatherless kids. As it turns out, every study done on the subject shows conclusively that this is really bad for everyone involved, psychologically, sociologically and epidemiologically. The second way is for the man and woman (or several women, for that matter - but there are different reasons why that's bad) to have sex in a committed, life-long relationship. This provides stability for the mother and a male/female role-model set for the child. It also keeps men and women living longer, happier, more productive lives. (BTW, prolonged exclusive relationships have not been shown to have a similar effect with same sex folks. Not sure why.) Again, every study ever done bears out that life-long heterosexual marriage is optimal for everyone involved in all cases except severe abuse.

Query: does the government have an interest in encouraging the optimal situation above to happen?

Answer: Yup.

As a result, the government started recognizing - in fact, incentivizing, and at great expense - marriage between heterosexuals. Are some infertile? Sure. But odds are that one of the two is fertile and as long as that's typical (which it is) this still encourages baby-making activity occuring in a responsible way.

Enter same sex marriage arguments, stage left.

First, a negative argument:

What's the government interest in same-sex unions? We've seen what it is in heterosexual marriage - making sure procreatively ordered sex happens in a responsible way. What's the government interest in what's basically mutual masturbation? I just don't see one. At the very least, I don't see an interest more significant than the interest in the relationship between my brothers and me.

Until someone gives me a logical reason to the contrary, I'm inclined to think my tax dollars should not be spent incentivizing something the government has no interest in. You gays want to shack up? I'm not going to stop you. You gays want to proclaim youselves indesoluably joined at the Online Church of Babalouay? Hey, it's a free country. Want me to make sure you're entitled to your lover's social security payment after he dies? Same goes for a tax break. Same goes for instant citizenship. As a taxpayer concerned about my tax dollars, that just doesn't make sense. Call me when there's a reason beyond two people liking one another and maybe then I'll give you access to my pocketbook. Besides, any fool who's been married longer than the honeymoon can tell you that marriage is definitely not linked to liking the other person!

Second, a positive argument:

The government should strengthen marriage between a man and a woman, not reduce it to the level of an ordinary contract. Would a good step be eliminating no-fault divorce? You betcha'! I'm all for it. In fact, I'd favor a one-shot marriage measure that would say (absent abuse charges being pressed or a time-limited annullment) if you divorce you never get government recognition of your marriage again. I'd say we need that as well as an even stronger incentive package for married folks - something like a drop in tax rate of 5% for every 10 years married. But the strengthing plan isn't in front of us -- the not weakening marriage plan is.

With the skyrocketted divorce rate and the associated societal harm (insert innumerable studies here), I hardly think I have to defend why the government should be encouraging a return to a stronger view of marriage. At the very least, refusing to recognize same sex so-called marriages on the grounds that they're not procreative might just remind some folks why the government started recognizing marriage to begin with. And that might just avoid a demographic winter, which is sort of a good thing for a society to desire.

So yeah, I think Prop 8 came out the right way and if a Catholic disagrees they're not using their thinking cap.

Now there are plenty of other arguments to be had in this area, like the simple fact that same sex so-called marriage is not a "right" - if it were, where would it come from? God? The Constitution? The simple fact of your humanity, a fact most of you find insufficient to grant the weakest of us freedom from being dismembered or burned to death with saline in the womb? And then there's the argument about what my kids get taught in public school -- "It's not enough that you tolerate," as Mark Shea says, "You. MUST. Accept!"

...But again I digress...

What I mean to say is that there are other arguments that I'm not going into because I don't really think we need to (and I've gone on long enough already). What we need to do is present secular arguments for the secular audience. Meet them where they're at. To those under the law and whatnot. And so far we haven't done it...which is why, despite winning a few battles, we're losing the war.
6 comments so far:
    skeeton November 18, 2008 at 11:01 AM , said...

    I also think there's a logical problem with calling marriage a "right" for anyone, hetero and homo alike. All of our other rights - free speech, guns, habeas corpus, etc. - are rights afforded to individual persons. Granting the status of "right" to marriage makes no sense, because marriage by its very definition involves the willful act of two people. One person alone has no right to marry. It requires the consent of another. This equally applies to everyone. If we elevate marriage as a right to which all are entitled, should not a single man be able to go to the local government office and demand the government provide him with a wife? I mean, after all, it's a right.

    matthew archbold November 18, 2008 at 12:34 PM , said...

    I agree with you. Marriage should not be looked at as a right. It is a provision for the common good.
    Good post. Thanks for the heads up.

    Anonymous November 18, 2008 at 4:05 PM , said...

    Thanks so much for posting. I have been doing a lot of research into this topic lately as it has been front and center in the news.

    Christians need to learn about this. Many people also need to grow a backbone and not crumble when they are inevitably called a 'homophobe' for wanting to keep the traditional definition of marriage intact. Stand firm! Learn the arguments, be able to articulate them in a logical way and don't be intimidated.

    Anonymous November 18, 2008 at 4:10 PM , said...

    Maybe we should form a group of single men who actually have a demonstration at the capitol building demanding that the government provide us with a wife. Maybe it would make the news and prove a point.

    Anonymous November 18, 2008 at 4:19 PM , said...

    It could make a great skit for a YouTube video....

    Chairm November 19, 2008 at 1:42 PM , said...

    I like the way you have plainly stated the gist of the disagreement.

    I sum-up the core meaning of marriage as:

    1. Integration of the sexes (expressed by the man-woman criterion in the law).

    2. Contingency for responsible procreation (expressed by the marital presumption of paternity, to which all consent when entering the bond).

    3. These combined as a coherent whole (expressed by the fact that the social institution is pre-governemtn -- it is recognized and privileged, not created and owned, by the governmental authorities on behalf of civil society).

    You use much more straightford and accessible language. And that is greatly appreciated.

    If you want to see more arguments in favor of the both-sexed basis of marriage check out the small group blogsite, The Opine Editorials.

    We don't shy away from the conflict with religious liberty, but we do strive to demonstrate that marriage can be defended on the firm ground of reason and respect for human dignity.


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