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.