In Defense of Marriage

At the Spectrum blog, Jared Wright argues in behalf of homosexual marriage.

1. Adventists affirm separation of church and state. Advocating a ban on same-sex marriage on moral grounds is tantamount to coercive mandating of a religious viewpoint. We cannot spread morality by force through law! We should oppose all efforts to do so.

First, what is law but accepted agreements upon morality? Laws against murder, child abuse, child pornography, theft–what are these but attempts to “spread morality by force through law”?”

Second, is marriage a “religious viewpoint”? Marriage as a complementary union of the sexes is accepted by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Animists, and athiests from China to Japan to Papua New Guinea to Kenya to the United States — and always has been. It is something upon which all religions and men and women of no religion were agreed until some began to articulate a different viewpoint in the last quarter century because of their opposition to teachings of a particular religion and of society as a whole. In fact, the basis for heterosexual marriage is in the biological complementarity of the sexes, and the biological purpose for this complementarity in sexual reproduction. This is natural law, not religion.

2. Protecting marriage: Supporters of a ban on same-sex marriage define the issue as protection of marriage. We must note that same-sex marriage is still marriage. Marriage as an institution is not under attack. Rather, it is being affirmed.

This is circular reasoning. Wright asserts the very point which is controverted, “same-sex marriage is still marriage,” as a proof that marriage doesn’t need to be protected. If marriage is based on the biological complementarity of the sexes, the biological purpose for which is reproduction, then homosexual unions are not marriage.

3. Promoting fidelity and monogamy: If we, as Christians, support and uphold fidelity and monogamy as better than cohabitation, then we should be consistent. The purpose of marriage is to promote monogamy and fidelity. Get it?

This is a non sequitur, with no relationship to the preceding points. Society already has undone laws prohibiting adultery and divorce–Defense of Marriage Acts do not touch on these issues.

4. Marriage is beneficial for society both structurally and fiscally. Marriage promotes stable, lasting relationships over transient ones. Further, marriage is related to greater financial security and mental and physical health. Married people provide societal benefits for those reasons.

And the reason marriage provides this stability is because it provides a stable environment for the raising of children. That is society’s interest. That is not possible with homosexual unions (unless you grant adoption rights to homosexual couples).

5. We cannot defer to the “will of the people” or “deeply rooted tradition,” as attempts by some organizations have done, to ban same-sex marriage. The will of the people and tradition consented to slavery in America. America’s elected officials outlawed slavery as a violation of human freedoms and dignity. America enacted laws banning interracial marriage by the will of the people and tradition. Appointed judges rescinded the laws as violations of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. Majority does not equal right. The court-ordered desegregation of schools in the 1950’s also went against the will of the people.

This argument works both ways. One opposed to homosexual marriage could make all the same points, and more–namely, that in our Constitution legislation is the prerogative of the legislative branch, and not of activist judges.

6. Same-sex marriage is NOT a slippery slope to the permitting of polygamy in America. (See discussion below).

That which is easily asserted is just as easily denied. If the basis for union is solely the consent of the participants, then who or what is to limit the age, number, or species of the participants?

But in Wright’s arguments against this he makes one which works even better against homosexual unions. He says, “A polygamist may still marry someone if we ban polygamy; he simply may not marry many someones.” Well, a homosexual may still marry someone if homosexual marriage is not recognized–he simply may not marry someone of the same sex. Nothing prevents any homosexual from entering into marriage as it has been historically defined. Many people who experience same sex attraction have been married, and are married. The law doesn’t care about the sexual appetites of individuals, only their intent and freedom to enter into a legal relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

7. Same-sex marriage does not threat pose a threat to me, my choices, or my way of life. The practice of marital fidelity by homosexual couples does not impinge upon any of my liberties, it does not harm me or my religious practice, and it does not threaten God or God’s sovereignty.

Yes it does. We’ve seen it happen already in states that have approved this innovation. Clerks and justices of the peace whose conscience could not approve it have been removed from office. Churches which could not bless it have been forced to close their adoption agencies. In Canada, those who have spoken against homosexuality for religious reasons have been muzzled and fined by “human rights commissions.”

For further reading, some articles from some very able legal scholars:

5 thoughts on “In Defense of Marriage

  1. “If the basis for union is solely the consent of the participants, then who or what is to limit the age, number, or species of the participants?”

    Great line — I’ll try and remember that one.

    Homosexual union (or any other non-heterosexual, monogamous relationship) is not ‘marriage’. Advocates are not seeking equality so much as they are re-defining the meaning of marriage.

    “In Canada, those who have spoken against homosexuality for religious reasons have been muzzled and fined by human rights commissions.”

    The true Church has the opportunity to rise up in the face of this kind of intensifying persecution. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

  2. “Laws against murder, child abuse, child pornography, theft–what are these but attempts to `spread morality by force through law’?”

    Each safeguards individual rights–as in, “Your right to swing your fists ends where my nose begins.” Under natural law, murder, abuse, child pornography, theft, etc. are wrong not because a religion says so–unlike, for example, taking God’s name in vain, which, last I checked, is not illegal in these United States–but because it infringes on the rights of another equally protected individual.

  3. Your argument assumes that 1) morality is defined by revelation and 2) safeguarding individual rights is not a moral issue. Morality is simply defined as 1) The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct, 2) A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct, or 3) Virtuous conduct. That’s what all legislation is about.

    And I think it dangerous to define the above items in an individualistic way. They are all about how we live together in a society; how our society is to be structured. Laws against pornography, solicitation for sex, polygamy, all infringe on what some would claim to be individual rights; yet they are all about drawing the lines as to what is right conduct and what is wrong conduct in a virtuous society.

  4. Well put, Bill. I would add that when I was in Canada, I heard on the CBC that the same legal think tank that originally proposed homosexual marriage is now proposing the legalization of polygamous/polyandrous marriage.

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