Via email. He or she has given me permission to post it anonymously. He or she agrees with my piece, but feels that our rational arguments fall on deaf ears because public rationality is more or less broken. I agree, I think, and in the piece mentioned the irony that many use the language of reason as a warrant for their desires which run contrary to nature. But I’m like Brad Pitt’s character at the end of A River Runs Through It. He’s killed in a fight; his father asks his brother if there’s anything else he can tell him, and his brother responds, “Every bone in his right hand was broken.” We may go down, but not lying down. At any rate:
I have debated on this very issue from the same perspective in which I provided ample historical and legal evidence, including cites to Robert George’s excellent article, What is Marriage?
, arguing that to be a marriage, a union must, among other things, be ordered toward procreation, with an explanation that actual procreation was not necessary (infertility is not a bar to marriage), but an ordering toward procreation is. Since only a man and a woman can engage in coitus, only a man and a woman are capable of marriage. I might as well have been talking to trees. The very concept was ridiculed, even by some who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
If you argue from religious grounds (which is a perfectly acceptable, in my view), then you are dismissed as some sort of fringe fanatic by the nonbelievers; if you argue from nature and biology and society’s needs, then you are dismissed as having an irrational attachment of marriage to sex (how ironic) and procreation, a position that is even adopted by some Christians. If you cite past laws to prove the connection, the laws are dismissed as antiquated and based on Christian fundamentalism (after all, the bad old Christians controlled Europe for 1500 years or so). If you cite current English law, you’re reminded that we don’t live in England. If you cite the few remaining states which have laws which make that connection, they are either vestiges of the bad old past or you’re misinterpreting their clear language. If you cite the old marriage rites, then you are, of course, citing the rites of a particular religion, Christianity. There is no winning the argument because much of the other side are victims of St. Paul’s description in Romans 1. They have debased minds incapable of rational thought because they have denied God.
As I have said many times, this is the fruit of the widespread acceptance and practice of artificial contraception. Once it became acceptable to separate marriage and sex from procreation, the whole fabric began to unravel. This is especially true for why so many Christians have a hard time accepting the secular arguments against same-sex marriage and can only articulate a religious one, which they cannot defend other than by citation to texts (Scripture for Protestants and Encyclicals, the CCC and Scripture for Catholics) which are rejected out-of-hand by secularists. Many of them are practicing, have practiced and/or plan to practice artificial contraception and so are blinded to how it has changed the way which even they understand marriage.
T.S. Eliot, who favored the change in teaching, warned that the Anglican Communion should have provided much clearer guidance as to when artificial contraception was and was not moral in his “Thoughts after Lambeth
“. The failure to provide such guidance opened the door to private choice, leading ultimately to the view even among many orthodox Christians that there are no moral issues involved. First, it was the acceptance of contraception for any reason whatsoever, separating marital sex from procreation. You could now have a marriage of a young, otherwise healthy and fertile couple, with an active sex life, without ever having children. If that is the case, then all the all taboos related to non-coital sex no longer served a logical purpose and the laws supporting those taboos as to heterosexuals were slowly repealed or overturned in the courts. This began in the 1960s and was almost entirely completed by the time the Court struck down all sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas
in 2003. This is seen, unfortunately, in the views expressed in books and from the pulpit by Mark Driscoll and others. This eventually led, in turn, to the overturning of those taboos as to same-sex couples. After all, if a man and a wife could engage in such sterile sexual acts, why shouldn’t a man and a man be permitted to do the same. See Justice O’Connor’s concurring opinion in Lawrence v. Texas
for exactly that argument, who would have upheld Texas law criminalizing sodomy had it applied to such acts committed by opposite-sex couples and not just couples of the same-sex.
This also enabled the separation of sex from marriage (as C.S. Lewis and others warned), though, when contraception failed, as it often does, it also increased the public demand and, hence, acceptance of abortion. Thus, we have seen the skyrocketing in out-of-wedlock births and the legalization of elective abortion.
Then, in the 1970s, we began the process of making the separation from the other direction, reproduction without sex, via IVF and AI, a practice which is now very widespread even among otherwise conservative Christians and is the very means by which same-sex couples have children to whom at least one of them is biologically related.
So, today, we can have sex without procreation or marriage; marriage without procreation or sex (as several of those with whom I have debated argue); and procreation without sex or marriage. The three strand cord of marriage, sex and procreation having been unwound, each of the separate strands was easily broken. In such an environment, it is practically impossible to make even the secular argument convincingly to nonbelievers and, for that matter, many believers. I am convinced that until we retrace these steps and rewind the three strand cord of marriage, sex and procreation, our efforts to prevent the eventual nationalization of same-sex “marriage” will fail. To borrow from another passage in Scripture, these are the logs in our eyes that prevent us from removing the specks from the eyes of our brothers.