In 1986, after taking a few courses on computer programming and having created a payroll app on a Commodore 64, which cut ten to fifteen hours from my payroll job, I was given opportunity to work on a hopelessly buggy customized accounting application in some now obscure language. After a week or two of perusing the endless spaghetti code without any modularization into subroutines, I realized that the easiest and least costly way of fixing the thing was to throw it out (eventually) and start from scratch.
The nature of the arguments made against same-sex marriage is much like that. It is not that the position is wrong. It is that the basis of the opposition is rationally incoherent and unsound, and perhaps even unscriptural. Most of the reasonings derive, as best as I can determine, from Roman Republican morality and a Roman version of Stoicism.
The problem lies in the accumulation of theological claptrap and traditions of men that have obscured a solid and sound rational argument. To fix the mess first requires a dressing down of many of these theological innovations. However, one will then need to contend against opposition from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and the informal magisteriums of the various Protestant/Evangelical sects. One must scathingly tear down the existing straw supports buttressing marriage in order to build a solid brick argument.
This is not to suggest that any degree of pristine and near-perfect reasonings will convince one’s interlocutors or adversaries. As the song says; “We hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest”1. As Christ demonstrated, perhaps our first query with those, who challenge the orthodox Biblical position, ought to deal with their heart motivations. The evidence is overwhelming in these last generations, that intellectual and ethical/legal arguments and empirical evidence are mere tools of self-interest, easily disposed of when they get in the way, by a population that doubts or does not care about the Truth or the Good. And in observing the quality of moral reasoning by those in my online Stanford University course on Justice, I am terrified for my children’s and grandchildren’s future.
However, in perusing the transcripts of the Proposition 9 trial; even though the liberal argument, advocated by the presiding judge Vaughn Walker (with little need of lawyers), was empty and superficial; the pro-Amendment argument was just too full of holes and easy to shoot down as well.
I visited a self-professed Evangelical’s take on the issue, and like the accounting package, I found attempting to debug his arguments would be so overwhelming, that is best to start from fundamentals and work up. This is a work in progress, perhaps deliverable next year. However, these considerations might help others in constructing a valid framework of argument.
If a universal natural law, as it pertains to human nature, exists; then violating that law will have natural consequences, independent of civic, ecclesiastical or divine penalties; independent of the ability to notice those consequences. (The Roman Empire was shocked when Rome was sacked in 410 A.D., although hindsight makes obvious this eventuality.)
The existence of this natural law is independent of the ability to subjectively appropriate it. (I repudiate the long-standing Christian nostrum, whose derivation is more Stoic than Biblical, that natural law (moral law) is innately known. We do have an unavoidable subjective faculty of judgment between good and evil. However, the Scriptural basis for this faculty to be loaded with content is unwarranted and leads to all kinds of inconsistencies and absurdities. The rational arguments and empirical historical and sociological evidence simply defies any correspondence to this theological innovation of moral nativism.
The incompetence or disingenuity of humanity may not even be able to subjectively appropriate a detrimental natural consequence.
Except for a few states in ancient Greece (i.e. Sparta), marriage was considered a private estate with minimal civic regulation until the high Middle Ages. The Roman paterfamilias was up in arms over Augustus’ attempt to interfere with the Estate with his Julian Laws, which fell largely to disuse. Marriage came increasingly under ecclesiastic governance until the Reformation and Enlightenment (16th-18th Centuries).
Calling it an institution, implying a primacy of its social and civic role and thereby justifying extensive and intrusive social and civic regulation, is contrary to Scriptures and reason; since marriage existed before both ecclesiastical and civic institutions. When Isaac ‘married’ Rebecca in his mother’s tent, we can be sure that the tent didn’t have sufficient room for a presiding rabbi and bureaucrat. The God of Scriptures called that marriage. And unless the God of Scriptures is mutable after all, church and state are not required for true marriage.
The idea of procreation as the primary purpose of marriage largely derives from a functionalist and austere Roman Republican morality. The logic of marriage as vehicle for procreation is so full of inconsistencies and incoherence that non-Christians are correct to contemptuously scorn those ‘Christians’ who attempt to justify opposite-sex marriages on those grounds. We need to utterly and scathingly destroy any pretensions that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage.
I would suggest that marriage’s purpose is for the benefit of its spouses; which in its pristine state, is the best relationship between two conscious beings possibly conceived; and is a shadow copy of the Trinity’s interrelationship and that being sought between Christ and His Church.
Making the Estate of Marriage subservient to purposes beyond itself (family lineage, ecclesiastical concerns and pathologies, civil agendas) grievously interferes and intrudes on the Estate and invariably weakens the marriage and the raison d’être to be married. History has demonstrates a proportionate correlation between external control and internal health of this relationship.
Western history demonstrates, as shown in the Proposition 9 trial, that state definition and regulation has caused unceasing travesty and atrocity to the private super-friendship relationship.
Any singular definition and understanding, imposed by the civil authorities, are usually wrongheaded, and invariably provokes considerable civic agitation. The question becomes: are the questionable benefits worth the civic discord and contribution to potential conflagration.
The argument against same-sex marriage will be found in the radical differences in natural and endemic proclivities of each sex. This is an assertion well challenged today, even though the scientific and historical anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea.
Secondly, the complementarianism that is bandied about by the CBMW, a complementarianism of roles is Biblically and rational insupportable. Rather, men and women represent a complementarianism of intrinsic natural proclivities. These proclivities are not rigid absolutes or immutable.
Each gender has a psychological insufficiency in itself that requires the complement of the other. Therefore, the opposite sex spouses need to discover, accept, embrace, mitigate against the excesses of the other and incorporate unto themselves that of the other in order to become the fullness of humanity (or Christ).
In that same-sex couples are not intimate with those qualities found in the other sex; they have less ability to detect, let alone incorporate those qualities into themselves. Indeed, historical and sociological record indicates a general disdain by homosexuals for the attributes of the other (i.e. ancient aristocratic Greeks, modern feminist lesbians). Same-sex coupling is prone to exaggerate the excesses of the same gender, rather than mitigating them.
The sociological record in Europe (i.e. liberal Scandinavia/Norway) demonstrates that same sex couplings are less stable. Divorce rates with gay males are 50% higher than opposite sex couplings. Lesbians are 167% higher. (These are state-wide statistics.) (Apparently, the Netherlands is showing the same outcomes). Instability for same-sex relationships are a common historical constant. The relational problems are endemic.
Same-sex relationships, at least amongst males for certain, invariably become polyamorous. Boredom is one constant complaint (i.e. Dan Savage). Polyamory has its own set of psychological deficiencies and grievous social consequences.
Even so, neither society nor the state should forbid same-sex relationships; nor give undue additional financial support to such couples (that which is above that given to opposite-sex) for reasons of liberty of conscience and civic peace. Nor should society or the state give legal and social sanction to same-sex relationships (or any marital relationships) for reasons of liberty of conscience and civic peace.
- Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer, 1968.