The Gay “Marriage” Debate: Part 1 of 3

I hope this to be the first in a three-part series on homosexual “marriage”. For this first post, I will make the contention that the push for legal recognition of homosexual unions would not be effective without the Christian moral structure that we have in the West. The second post will deal with why although this argument could only be effective in a society influenced by Christian values, it is nevertheless incompatible with Christian teaching and immoral. The third post will deal with the state’s role in recognizing and regulating marriage.

                The argument for gay unions rests (among others) on two premises: the idea that everyone is equal and should be treated the same, and that marriage is something in and of itself good, or else people wouldn’t get worked up about it in the first place. Both of these ideas would be impossible without Christianity.

                The premise that everyone is created equal is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, and so of course has roots in Enlightenment thought. However, there could have been no Enlightenment unless there was first Christianity. It is from Christianity that we first see the idea that everyone can be saved, everyone is valuable in the eyes of God, and that the last shall be first and first shall be last. The Greek philosophers and every other region of the world would have regarded this radical equality as ridiculous. In Aristotle and Plato’s view, man can only be saved by philosophy and wisdom, but as is obvious, most men have no capability or inclination to really attain wisdom and knowledge. Looking across the world, we see no idea of the sort of equality embraced in the West and this is in large part because of their lack of any sort of Christian foundation.  Even Islam, although promising salvation to everyone, makes a large distinction between the rights of men and the rights of women, which is not found in Christianity. This means that the idea of an egalitarian society would be much less persuasive in a world not influenced by Christianity. Now, the trouble of course is that while Christianity teaches that everyone may attain salvation through God’s grace (perhaps with the exception of John Calvin), this does not mean that there are not fundamental differences between individuals and the sexes. It is only when this egalitarian mentality is taken to an extreme that it loses its Christian identity and can be used as a bludgeon against people who disagree.

                The second contribution of Christianity is the sanctity of marriage, which leads to gays wanting to participate in this ideal. As others have pointed out, while homosexual acts were relatively common in ancient Greece, it never occurred to anyone that gays should then “marry”. Why? Because sexual acts and/or love are not enough to make a marriage. This still holds true today, but it is not satisfactory to gay couples. This is because Christianity has held up monogamous marriage as the ideal for those who cannot hold their lust in check.

                Now obviously, the gay movement has much more to do with a rejection of Christianity, as Christianity has forbidden and condemned all sexual acts outside marriage since the beginning. But the only way gay marriage has become such a force is because it appeals to (misunderstood) Christian ideals. Why gays would want to make a lifelong contract to each other and be recognized by law makes no sense (unless they want purely the economic benefits of marriage) unless they believed there was something good and admirable about marriage itself. This only comes through Christianity. The misunderstood ideal of complete equality for everyone (as many suppose that homosexuality is something innate) also owes a debt to our Christian heritage.

-Canisius

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4 thoughts on “The Gay “Marriage” Debate: Part 1 of 3

  1. very much appreciate the interesting logic… That gays want some access to the nobility of marriage is a puzzle to me considering that their lifestyle is so orthogonal to the institution of the marriage.

  2. You seem to completely misunderstand what people are talking about when they say they want gay marriage to become legal. No one is saying that Christian churches should be forced to perform marriages to gay couples. The argument is for LEGAL recognition of marriages between gay couples, NOT Christian recognition. Since a legal definition of marriage has nothing to do with Christianity (the USA has no state religion and the government is a secular organization) an argument made from the point of view of Christianity is irrelevant. I may as well argue from the POV of Wicca, Jainism, or Zoroastrianism, because they have just as much right to impose their moral standards on people of other religions as Christianity does.

    • Mintaka,
      Perhaps I was not very clear, but I never intended to argue that Christian churches would be forced to perform “marriages” for gay couples. All my post is trying to convey is that the argument for gay marriage would be much more difficult to make in an environment completely without a Christian foundation. The arguments for gay “marriage” are more effective in a place that has a Christian heritage for the reasons I laid out in the posts. As for its morality and the role of the State in marriage, I will be addressing that in later posts. Furthermore, although I don’t know of anywhere that Christian churches are forced to perform ceremonies, they have been forced in this country to provide for contraception and in places like Sweden to not preach against gays unless they want to be arrested (Ake Green). Also, to your point that Christianity cannot (or should not) inform our laws: 1. It should if it is the truth. 2. Even if it were false, it would still have a claim to at least inform our discussion as part of our nation’s cultural heritage in a way that Wicca does not.
      -Canisius

  3. Nice, looking forward to the other ones. Maybe to reemphasize something that hopefully isn’t going to be touched on later to shed light on what you wanted to do in the first post: Christianity sets the framework in which people argue for gay marriage. Even beyond that, we operate in such a Christian understanding of the world that it’s silly to not at least mention Christianity in a discussion of marriage in the West. To address an earlier post. Wicca and Zoroastrianism did not completely shape the landscape of Western thought and culture like Christianity-this is a common fact that is overlooked by many who look forward to “progress” but have no grounding in history. Even those disagreeing with Christianity have to operate within its wake. Separation of Church and state is mentioned in the Constitution, but remember the Constitution is a FEDERAL document, not directed at the States. Thus many states had their own “state religion”, in the narrow sense of the word, closing on the 19th century. And what “religion” were they allowing in the states? Some idea of Christianity. How does this relate to gay marriage? We need to understand our history to understand what the present reality truly consists of, if we are trying to change this present, and not merely a figment of what we think the present is.

    More importantly and concisely, Christianity sets the framework in a major way as mentioned in this post–human dignity/equality. Why make a fuss about gay marriage in the first place if not for a sense of equality and dignity among human beings? To argue for gay marriage is to argue for a view of the human person who has dignity and should not be treated as a lower class person, a mere “thing.” Where does this idea come from? Science? Well science can’t even explain marriage so it can’t touch equality. Moreover, scientifically people are completely different, some smarter, some stronger, some more deserving of things than others. How about from the logical extension of Enlightenment and Post-Modern ideas? Well, we have Communism and Socialism’s track record and it involves extermination of races, gulags, and the most murder in one century than ever before. “I have a right to gay marriage.” Even using the language of rights presupposes an idea of a person that invokes some higher order and justice which declares what SHOULD be. Thus a call for gay marriage is inherently a MORAL claim. “It’s not fair/right that gay people can’t marry if they want to.” So what morality should we use when trying to see if gay marriage should be a law/ Where do Westerners get this previous higher sense of order? It’s funny that many progressives want to rebuke and upheave the very moral order they are using to argue for gay rights.

    **This is not a definitive rebuttle to gay marriage, but the perameters of the discussion have to be properly laid down beforehand, or else we get demagoguery with one side claiming “It’s against God’s plan!” and another side claiming “religion has nothing to do with it, it’s about rights!” **

    ***also, I can see Carey all over the original post 🙂 (so nice)***

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