You are here

What does 'gay marriage' mean?

A friend commented on the Massachusetts “gay marriage” business:

Gay “marriage” is a lost cause; on the scale of mortal sin, it ranks less than abortion (though its overall civilizational effect may be just as great), so the furor it arouses seems to be less; and no one seems able to articulate any persuasive argument against it in the public sphere.

My response:

I suppose part of the problem is that the abortion decision made judicial outrages in things having to do with sex and reproduction the norm, the failure of the anti-abortion movement made failure the norm, and the continued need for the anti-abortion movement probably means that most people who are traditionalist on these things are already maxed out in their efforts to “take back America.”

I think the civilizational effect will be greater, though. What relation that has to the question of sin I don’t know. “Gay marriage” radically changes what has to be honored in everyday life. Abortion isn’t publicized, but “gay marriage” means that children have to be taught from their earliest years, in order to have a competent grasp of basic social institutions, that every configuration of sexual impulse and conduct has to be equally esteemed. The bit about NYC schoolgirls in the previous entry suggests some implications. Also, “gay marriage” is a greater denial of nature. Plenty of species eat their young under some conditions, but undoing a billion years of sexual differentiation seems a bit much. There have been highly civilized societies with infanticide, but no previous society of any sort with anything like this.

As to arguments in the public sphere, I think we folded decades ago with acceptance of contraception, no-fault divorce, and feminism—the notions that sexual relations and marriage are a matter of personal expression, and sex distinctions have no legitimate social role. Nonetheless, we should continue to fight. “Gay marriage” is something that cannot be conceded if we are to continue to view ourselves as participants in American society.



What about ancient Greece — weren’t they a highly civilized society where sexual distinctions had no legitimate social role?

Should we as christians bother with something that the State sponsors?


Does Mr. Guilherme know that the image he refers to (which we all learned in college) of a Greek (and Roman) antiquity that condoned open homosexuality, or was indifferent to its every public manifestation, is rejected by many scholars as untrue? I think the scholars who reject it are exactly right, and the popular image is typical leftist college professor la-la land claptrap. If I may I’ll cite a brief comment I posted at the Poe forum (one could cite voluminous other evidence and scholarly opinion corroborating Voltaire’s and Prof. Paul Gottfried’s views on the matter):

In ancient Greece as elsewhere sexual distinctions were of course basic to society. Read any of their literature and you’ll see that men and men’s roles are clearly distinguished from women and women’s roles, and that marriage and family were a matter of man, wife and children.

As to same-sex connections, there were life-long friendships between men that were highly esteemed but the accounts I recall don’t mention any sexual content. It seems unlikely there would be any, since friendship is stable and between equals, while erotic connections between males mostly had to do with older men infatuated with teenage boys.

As to erotic attachments to boys, Plato in some of his dialogues praises them because they are ideal and not functional, but only when physically they don’t go beyond what would be decent between a man and his children. In his Laws he makes physical homosexual relations a crime and says they’re against nature. Aristotle criticizes Plato for being overly accepting of homosexual relations in the Republic, and Aristophanes doesn’t like any of it.

As to Christians and the law, we are of course concerned to promote the well-being of our society and fellow-citizens. Also, we’d rather the habits and attitudes we pick up as members of society were good habits and attitudes.

I agree with Jim Kalb that it’s harder to argue against homosexual marriage when you’ve already agreed that “sex distinctions have no legitimate social role”.

In particular, if you accept the idea of a “genderless” heterosexual marriage, then the idea of a gay marriage will seem less abnormal.

For instance, if you no longer believe in distinct parenting roles within a marriage, but are content to believe that the primary carer of young children could equally be the father, mother or a male child care worker, then the idea of a family structure based on the marriage of two men won’t seem so outrageous.

I’m not sure if people knew what they were ceding when they agreed to the proposition that there should be no distinctive sex roles within a heterosexual marriage.

Someone just reminded me of a quote from Emerson that’s to the point, “Every reform is only a mask under cover of which a more terrible reform, which dares not yet name itself, advances.”

Our host thinks “we folded decades ago with the acceptance of contraception, no-fault divorce, and feminism”. Didn’t we fold centuries ago with the acceptance of divorce?

OK, Henry’s motive was ostensibly patriotic; he was trying to sire a son, not bugger a friend. Hence his acts were natural, if destructive to civilization. But the English seemed to know in their bones that they let the genie out of the bottle. I read of one stretch of 250 years in which England granted dissolutions to only 300 marriages.

Isn’t the sodomogamist movement ultimately Henry’s spawn?