The Myth of 'Marriage Equality'

The Myth of 'Marriage Equality'

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As a writer, I'm always interested in how people use (and abuse) words. I'm especially interested in what I call magic words — the kind used not to promote calm, clear thought, but to cast a spell and move an audience to fall in line with the speaker's desires.

For Americans, "equality" can be one of those words. If someone demands it, we're not supposed to ask questions or draw distinctions — to ask, "Equality between what and what?," to carefully consider whether those things are, in fact, of equal worth. We're just supposed to agree that the demand is just and that to deny it is not only unjust but cruel — a type of personal assault against those making the demand. To deny it, then, is to risk putting your own motives under suspicion. (Are you a bigot? A "hater?")

So I can see why supporters of same-sex marriage have taken to calling their cause "marriage equality" — insisting that their unions must be considered every bit as good as those of men and women, in every way. But this begs the question: Are they equal? Truly?

To believe that they are, you have to overlook some pretty huge stuff.

The really remarkable thing about men and women is that they're so different, yet so complementary. As J. Budziszewski put it in "The Seeker," "They're not just different, they match. There is something in male emotional design to which only the female can give completion, and something in female emotional design to which only the male can give completion." Together, they're far more than the sum of their parts and more than any two people of the same sex can ever be. Among other things, as Budzisewski also said in "Homophobia: An Unfinished Story," "One of the purposes of marital sex is to get you outside your Self and its concerns, to achieve intimacy with someone who is Really Other." Homosexuality simply can't do that: "It's too much like loving your reflection." (Surely the main reason so many gay male couples routinely cheat on each other by mutual consent is that they are both men.)

The benefits of marriage for husband and wife are too numerous to list. But the most important benefits are for the children. Mom and Dad together bring far more to the table than two "Moms" or two "Dads" ever could. More than that, both Mom and Dad are essential to showing the child what it's like to be of his or her own gender, and to relate to the other. A boy learns to be a man through his father, learns about women through his mother, and learns about how men and women interact by watching both of them together. There's no way he can do without either Mom or Dad without missing out on so many valuable, precious things.

We can't always prevent this tragedy for every child. But we certainly shouldn't pretend that it's not a tragedy. Yet by the iron logic of "equality," that's exactly what we're supposed to do. By that logic, for example, an adoption agency that can place a child with a Mom and a Dad would be forbidden to give them any preference over a same-sex couple: That would be "discrimination." The result is a kind of child sacrifice. The child must be deprived of either a Mom or a Dad in order to satisfy the demands of the ideological gods of our age.

Enough already: Let's break the spell and think clearly. "Equality" is not necessarily good. "Discrimination" is not necessarily bad. Indeed, to "discriminate" — in the proper sense of the word — simply means to make distinctions between things that are, in fact, different. That's not bigotry. That's sanity.

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  • Comment by  Jane:

    Before I comment, do you mind if I do? I'm gay and not a Christian, so I'd be coming at this from a place of disagreement, and I'm not sure if that would work for you (seeing as this is a blog for evangelical Christians.)

  • Comment by  MichaelFumento:

    I refer to such rhetoric as "bullying terminology." Terms such as "It's obvious" or "Everybody knows" are often followed by things most inobvious that everybody doesn't know. The idea is to cower people into shutting up and going along.

    "Equal rights" sounds great. But should my cat have equal rights with humans? Actually, in the case of MY cat the answer is "yes." But with most cats, it's no. That said, PETA believes ALL animals should have equal rights with humans, although in reality how can you even employ that concept? How can you let a dog vote?

    BTW, I've also written about the term "prejudice." It's something we all employ because we MUST.

    Throughout the day much of what we do is guided by prior experience. I'm more likely to get a cab by waving my hand than just standing there. BIGOTRY is a whole different concept. So is bigamy, but I think I'm beginning to stray...

  • Comment by  MarthaKrienke:

    Hi, Jane

    Thank you for considering the identity of our site. While our primary purpose is to be a site for discussion among Christians, we make some room for a variety of voices in responses.

  • Comment by  Jane:

    Okay, thanks, Martha.

    A few points:

    1.) "They're not just different, they match. There is something in male emotional design to which only the female can give completion, and something in female emotional design to which only the male can give completion."

    Which males? Which females? Saying that there's just "something" about such a large, disparate group as an entire sex seems a little untidy. Women and men differ among themselves to an extent that is almost inconceivable, across cultures and regions. Madonna, Phyllis Schlafly, Indira Ghandi, the homeless woman across from your office: all women. To be blunt: having a specific primary sexual characteristic does not imbue you with a certain sensibility.

    2.) "One of the purposes of marital sex is to get you outside your Self and its concerns, to achieve intimacy with someone who is Really Other."

    I'm sure we've all met heterosexual couples who didn't fulfill this requirement - who basically married the male/female version of themselves. Yet they still were permitted to marry. As were every single terrible couple throughout human history who were still permitted to marry and have children by the state (Zsa Zsa Gabor comes to mind.) When we start limiting marriage licenses to people who fulfill specific criteria (not being awful, being compatible, not getting married purely to get married or have a wedding), then we can talk.

    3.) Re: parenting - Most gay people were the children of two straight people who got married. My parents have been married since 1979. They're Catholics. My sister got married (to a man)in 2010. I went to Catholic school for 13 years. And I knew I was gay when I was four years old (and I tried to fix it - didn't go well.) It happens.

    I understand your opposition to gay marriage. I hope you understand my position being pro-gay marriage. I'm not Christian, so I don't want to overstep my bounds here while talking about something as personal as LGBT marriage (if evangelical Christians were commenting on lesbian blogs, I'd be a little weirded out.) But I will say that I hope my presence in this discussion will remind you that if you're talking about gay marriage, you're talking about gay and lesbian people. Your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your family members.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • Comment by  Greg:

    It used to be a compliment to be told you had 'discriminating tastes'. It used to be wise to discriminate what you did and who you hung around with and where, if for no other reason than your personal safety.

    Much damage has been done by our cultural obsession of chasing the myth of equality and its absurd mate 'not judging'.

    The pain of having to deal with the victims of postmodern stupification is just one minor effect.

    I supposeyou could say that Christians are , in Christ, equally saved from our deserved punishment, but you still can't escape the consequences of your past.

  • Comment by  MrsAshleytheoriginalflavor:

    I've already put too many controversial statements out there for this week but leaving the gay marriage debate at the door for a second...

    I wonder how single parents, (Adopters, users of IVF, victims of abuse or rape, biblically congruent divorcees, and the widowed) feel about being told that they are raising their kids in a "child-sacrifice" environment?

    ...

  • Comment by  Tiffany:

    I think that same-sex marriage supporters are not actually seeking to have marriage equality, but marriage equity. To give all humans the same rights and respect. Personally, I think that Letting a segment of our population feel like second class citizens is a huge mistake for many Chrisitians to promote.

    Also, Jane, don't worry. Not all of us who are Christians agree with this organization on political matters.

  • Comment by  BillMcK:

    This article strikes me as heavy on speculation and opinion ...and light on facts and data supporting its claims.  Also, marriage does not require children, so I'm not sure why so many anti-gay arguments seem to require gay couples to have children in order to be married, when heterosexual couples are not required to have children in order to be married.  

    Furthermore, whatever your opinion on this issue, it seems fairly obvious that 'marriage equality' is the proper and accurate term.  GLBT Americans are simply seeking the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexuals now have.  This is not a church issue, it a matter of legal civil rights granted by the government.  

  • Comment by  Rob:

    Technically speaking, homosexuals do have equal marriage rights with heterosexuals.  As a heterosexual, I am able to marry one person of the opposite sex who is not a blood relative.  A homosexual, an inbreeder, and a polygamist are all allowed to marry one person of the opposite sex who is not a blood relative.

    However, marriage isn't really a right.  One isn't entitled to any series of governmment benefits because they found a lifelong romantic partner.  Marriage is more like a subsidy or an endorsement.  The government is touting heterosexual monogamy as the ideal.

    Whether or not you believe the government should be making such endorsements is a different subject, but I'm wary of homosexuality being endorsed on the basis of health concerns.  Oral sex causes throat cancer and anal sex causes a multitude of prostate problems.  While some heterosexuals do practice sodomy, which is just as harmful, heterosexuals in general can practice their sexuality without harming one another.  Homosexual sex can only be performed via sodomy and it is always physically injurious.  I've yet to encounter a viable argument against that point.

    One last point, most men are biologically polygamous.  We're born this way, and polygamy is illegal.  They can't even speak out because identifying themselves could get them jailed.  That's a much more accurate depiction of inequality, yet none of the "pro-equal-marriage" advocates will regard it.  That being said, I don't think equality is their aim as much as a particular demographic's special interest.

  • Comment by  Jane:

    Rob,

    Homosexuality is not just men. There are these people known as "lesbians." We're very friendly.

  • Comment by  Corwin:

    I missed that discussion on the men article when it first came out, but sure remember that article and the comments.

    That was a really good roundtable!

  • Comment by  AlexC:

    I think Rob brings up a good issue that I would like to discuss.  I think the question with this should really be "why should the government support heterosexual monogamous marriage as the ideal over any other possible relationship?"  Why does it specifically grant tax breaks and other benefits to this type of relationship and not others?  If someone says the government should support marriage because "its the best environment for children to grow up in" then I have to ask why we should give any marriage benefits to couples who do not have children, or whose children have left the house?   I also just have to wonder...is it the government's place to make judgements on different lifestyle choices and promote some over others?  Would you, for example, be in favor of the government giving tax breaks to families that don't buy Soda? (because Soda is unhealthy for kids) or families that don't own a TV? (because TV viewing can harm young children).  Whether or not the research actually shows that children are better off in heterosexual married homes, that doesn;t necessarily mean that it should be the government's place to say "we're going to officially recognize and grant special privileges to this type of lifestyle choice because its more beneficial".    

  • Comment by  me:

    The major flaw in the arguments listed in the blog post, however logical or illogical they may be, is that they mostly rely on human reason. Human reason can always be argued against. And the arguments can successfully change the outcome of that reasoning. The reason homosexual marriage is wrong is because it is not what God created marriage to be. If you have a problem with that, you have to take it up with God, but good luck...He's bigger.

    Whether increasingly secularised government is going to uphold that is another issue, but if I call an apple an orange, no matter how much human authority I have, the fact is God made the apple an apple, so I'm just wrong.

  • Comment by  Nicole:

    I think a much bigger tragedy would be to deny a child a safe, loving home to be raised in simply because the situation wasn't up to some peoples perception of what was ideal. Life is messy and there is no such thing as the perfect family, but an imperfect family is better than no family at all.

  • Comment by  Stephanie:

    Jane - I completely understand your points. I'm Christian and this may not be the most popular view amongst Christians but I think we make a mistake when we try to justify our views on homosexuality with arguments using anything but the Bible says so and we believe it. As you point out, every argument a Christian can make using a pragmatic/sociological rationale for being against gay marriage can be debated and as I said to a gay friend of mine recently, I can't convince you, I can only explain what I believe but at some point in the conversation, my beliefs are going to come down to no more or no less than God said so, which won't be satisfactory to you, but is at its essence why I believe what I do.  It's like speaking French to someone who speaks Spanish - your language is different. Or, as I said to my friend in our conversation, it's like saying to someone who is Muslim and doesn't eat pork to put aside their religious beliefs and explain why they don't pork -  they can't because that is essentially why they don't do it and it doesn't matter what arguments are made for pork eating they are not going to because their beliefs and faith that tells them not to and that's enough for them. It doesn't matter if you say pork is 99c a pound or the other white meat.  Now pretend that part of their faith also prevented them from not just eating pork themsleves but supporting pork eating efforts too and it might make my analogy make a little more sense. I know it's not a perfect analogy but my point is that at root it comes down to a belief about what God says -and while some people have different views about what certain passages mean to me and others they are pretty clear. (Now with my friend it then led to a convo about what I believe about God, why I do, what he believes about God etc which is beyond this discussion but that's just a side note). That said, I do think if you continue to read Boundless (and I hope you do) you'll get a sense of the beliefs not just on gay marriage but other things which may then give a framework for understanding this issue in a larger context.

    Now, to the others at Boundless,  I'm not downplaying the role of apologetics or having a ready answer for our faith, but I think we get frustrated sometimes because we think we can outargue or convince someone of something and although we can be used by the Spirit ultimately we can't force belief on someone else. There is a part where the Spirit takes over and it's faith although there is no question that people can be used by God to draw other people.

    To Matt: I don't know if abusing words is true. In the conversation I had with my gay friend - one of many - I do believe that he sincerely believes it is an equality issue. I am a minority and we also talked about the comparisons often made between being gay and being a minority and while I disagreed with the comparisons he was making, I also understood that many people that I know who are gay, not just this friend, do feel as if they are treated as 'less than', not equal etc so the use of the word isn't some ploy it really is a reflection of their pain at how they feel others who don't understand them treat them.

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