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Pro "gay marriage" and pro-life?

Another correspondent asks whether I think it’s possible to be pro-gay marriage and pro-life: whether logically, rationally, ultimately, the two positions can be reconciled. She had noticed some conservatives going that way.

It seemed to me you could give multiple answers depending on how you took the question:

  • Of course they can be reconciled. You can be right about the nature and value of life in general and wrong about the nature and value of sex in particular. There’s no necessary conflict.
  • Of course not. “Gay marriage” is an incoherent conception, because the importance and social position of marriage, which is the point of wanting “gay marriage,” results from sex as the source of new life and principle of union between complementary sexes. Since it’s incoherent it can’t be reconciled even with itself let alone something else.
  • Not really. Sex, pregnancy, babies, and marriage are all foundational aspects of human life and they’re all closely connected. If you subordinate some of them radically to human will while keeping the others authoritative your overall position is going to be pretty shaky.

So I suppose I’d say the two pull in different directions but don’t strictly contradict each other. As a basic political matter though the combination is not going to hold up. If you can do whatever you want with sex you need abortion as a backstop to get the untrammeled freedom you’re looking for.

I suggested the question was like asking whether you can favor women’s ordination to the priesthood and be orthodox in all other respects. I said that the two come from different intellectual and moral worlds and they’re not going to live together as a long-term practical matter. My correspondent agreed instinctively that she felt the contradiction but couldn’t see how to explain it. She asked why you couldn’t logically be for female priests and orthodox in every other way.

I responded that basic concepts matter. The Incarnation isn’t going to make much sense to you if you don’t think the human body is saturated with intrinsic meanings, and you’re not likely to think that if you think men and women are symbolically interchangeable. You’ll tend toward a Cartesian mind/body split that makes the material world meaningless and therefore not capable of manifesting God’s presence. Nor will the doctrine of Creation (God made the world and called it good) seem persuasive to you. A world that’s neutral and meaningless isn’t a world that’s good. So you’re going to veer away from two absolutely fundamental doctrines.

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