17 February 2012

Still Not Learning

John Hawkins had a brilliant article giving five reasons why “Gay Marriage” isn’t a big deal.  Just kidding, he had a terrible article giving five reasons why gay marriage should be opposed:

1) Gay marriage is incompatible with Christianity (and for that matter, Islam & Judaism).

Here’s the thing:  congress isn’t allowed to make any laws respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof.  A random sample of state constitutions (Texas, California, and New Jersey) finds similar language.  The conclusion to be drawn from this is that church and state are not the same, and that there is to be a wall of separation between the two.  The government (federal and state) is not to enforce religious laws and beliefs.  So, while gay marriage is undeniably incompatible with Christianity, it is not at all incompatible with government.
2) Gay marriage will end up infringing on religious freedom.
A long time ago, there was a Jewish carpenter that said that those who live by the sword will die by the sword.  Religious folk, for a long time, used the government to persecute homosexuals (think: sodomy laws).  Once you give the government the power to do this, it should not be surprising when the government reverse course.  While religious freedoms should not be infringed upon in a just society, it is hard to claim that a society which infringed upon others’ rights is a just society, and it is therefore difficult to have sympathy for them.
3) Civil unions could confer every "right" that marriage does.
If this is the case, then why do conservative parents never tell their children to grow up and enter a civil union?  More to the point, if there is no practical legal distinction between marriage and a civil union, why bother with a semantic distinction?  (Hint:  see point number one, above.)
4) Gay marriage may be where it starts, but it wouldn't be where it ends.
Actually, gay marriage is most certainly not where it starts.  The present course was started upon many years ago when the government was given control of marriage.  It belonged in the hands of the church, but the church shirked its duty and handed it off to the state.  At first, there wasn’t much of a problem, as the state’s law closely mirrored divine law.  Then the state began to loosen the rules of divorce, while also incentivizing hypergamous behavior in women, which has led to the current state of affairs.

Gay marriage would certainly continue the trend, which would probably extend to incestuous marriages and polygamy.  But the trend did not begin with gay marriage, and gay marriage wouldn’t actually do that much more damage, comparatively speaking.  At this point, the institution of marriage has become meaningless.  The only fix is to reverse course and wrest marriage away from the state.  Halting just short of gay marriage won’t fix anything.

5) Marriage already has enough problems as it is without gay marriage.

This is true.  Gay marriage certainly won’t help fix them. But, as per above, unless conservatives are going to argue that marriage should be taken from the state and given back to the church, there’s no point in even having this argument.  Preventing gays from getting a piece of paper from the government declaring them to be married is not going to fix the messes caused by decades of no-fault divorce, or in the increased cheapening of the value of marriage that has been the result of the sexual revolution.

Ultimately, arguments like these show quite clearly that conservatives are, by and large, mostly unserious about fixing marriage.  The main reason they make gay marriage a big deal is to signal cultural beliefs. There is nothing wrong with signaling one’s group affiliation, but doing so in the political arena can be dangerous, especially if you’re in the minority, or if you lose your power.


  1. Our conservative luminaries like Newt Gingrich trade wives every 7 years or so. You're absolutely right that they're unserious about fixing it and are just signaling.

    Government has been the hand of death for marriage and family in this country.

  2. @PRCalDude- I'm actually more inclined to argue that parental failures are the death of marriage and the family (as parents fail to pass on values from generation to generation). Of course, these values are then enforced by the government, which starts up a pretty vicious self-reinforcing feedback loop.