Same-Sex Marriage Part II: God’s Country and the Future of Our Children

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In Part II of this series, I outline the religious and non-religious arguments against marriage equality and expose problems in the argumentation.

Though it may be rightfully considered a religious issue, there are arguments used from both religious and non-religious sides.  Although, the reasoning of the non-religious arguments generally holds root in American Religious tradition.  It is known, albeit sometimes ignored, that our Constitutional provisions disallow any law being created for or because of religious doctrine or belief.  Even so, there are those among us that would seek to find some logical argument, even while exercising fallacies, to create a country in which their rights are sound and the rights of others are expendable.  This is the platform of those against marriage equality.

We will save the fun, religious arguments for later.  First, let us address the “non-religious” platforms for the inequality our country pronounces.  Of the three most used statements of non-religious origins, two of heavily involve the future of our children. First, ‘Allowing gays to marry would weaken traditional family values that are essential to our society.’  Second, ‘Gays marrying will confuse children about gender roles.’  Finally, ‘If I can marry a man, why can’t I marry a horse?’ The last one is my favorite.

‘Allowing gays to marry would weaken traditional family values that are essential to our society.’  This may be the most common argument used against same-sex marriage.  This is argument is one that is a surrogate for the religious arguments because it is not sound in constitutional law, instead, a much more defensive ideal that instills fear into the masses.  It solidly professes the idea that “they” will take away what “I” hold dearly to my heart.   The argument is not strong, however, because of the defensive, fear inducing motivation, and the illusion of “traditional family values.”   Traditional family values date back to the late 1940s/early 1950s.   We have all heard the term ‘Nuclear Family.’  A man and women, father works a middle-class day job and the mother is the homemaker.  They also have a couple kids that go to suburban public schools.  With the rise of fear of godless communism in the 1950s, the suburban family needed something to cling to.  Thus, the traditional family values that have since become obsolete.   Now, this tradition, being less than five generations old and already outdated with the rise of one-parent households, ambiguous gender roles, and the semi-acceptance of unmarried gay couples adopting children is irrelevant in the discussion.

Much more simply denied is the belief that gay parents would confuse children about gender roles.   In the early 1990s, unmarried gay couples adopting children started to become much more common.  Though the fear that it would destroy the future of the children was not realized, there are still groups that would perpetuate the opposite.  Since World War II, gender roles in the household have become more and more ambiguous and now, an equal number of men and women hold professional positions and do equal work in the house.  Like the previous argument, this one is irrelevant.

The final non-religious argument is my favorite.  While stating it facetiously, I enjoy using a southern accent.  “If I can marry a man, why can’t I marry a horse?”  Really, any barnyard animal can be substituted.   This is a perfect argument for the uneducated because it is a perfect example of the slippery slope logical fallacy.   Telling the layperson that the argument is a slippery slope fallacy will not convince them, so we will delve more deeply.  This is a comparison between a gay man or woman and a horse.  This argument exposes the true feelings of those against equality of any kind.  They believe that the others are lower beings, like animals.  There should be no fear that same sex marriage would give way to man-marrying-animal because an animal cannot consent and are not cognitively aware as Homo sapiens are.  If you worry about polygamy, then you’re not reading your bible very well- multiple instances in which the bible endorses it.  Additionally, Mohammed is famous for taking on many wives, and endorsing such acts if the household-head can support them all.

Though also irrelevant in law, the religious arguments are important to address because American religious institutions seem to not understand that they do not have political power outside of their own sect.  The first thing that American Christians tell you when you say ‘same-sex marriage’ is “I believe it is a sin in the bible.”  We all know what the passage reads basically that a man laying with other men as they do with women is an ‘abomination.’  The term ‘abomination’ is one of the most popular words for a Christian.  However, they seem to forget that in the same breath, the primitive middle-eastern writer also states that eating ham and wearing clothing of multiple fabrics is an ‘abomination.’  There is no way to reconcile this without admitting that the reader can interpret the severity of the sin and make their own assumptions as to what it is supposed to mean.  By trying, you take credibility away from your own argument because an average Christian parishioner is not equipped at all to interpret their own holy book.

Finally, it is common to hear that marriage sanctity is important.  Christians in America truly believe that marriage is the creation of Christians before them, and must be protected.  I will admit that if a church chooses to not marry two people, for whatever reason, the law cannot and should not force them to.  However, religious marriage and legal marriage as observed by the government are not interchangeable.  Obviously, the phrase “sanctity of marriage” is laughable, unless you include polygamy and womanservents.  I say: let the religions hate.  They will lose their members and die out (like the ultra-conservative Republican Party) unless they move with civilization into the 21st century and beyond.

The next part in this series will discuss the arguments for marriage equality.  If you wish to refute my arguments or discuss further, please comment and share this article.

 

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

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27 thoughts on “Same-Sex Marriage Part II: God’s Country and the Future of Our Children

  1. I think the arguments against same-sex marriage are largely being made by the same kinds of close-minded bigots who made these arguments against interracial marriage. And, a generation from now, they will look equally as foolish 🙂

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  2. Wow I tried to write a similar post recently and could not put it this eloquently. Thank you for saying what I have been trying to say. I can’t wait to hear what the arguments for marriage equality are 🙂

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  3. Hello Dustin,
    I hope that it is ok to call you by your first name.
    I read your latest post and I appreciate where you are coming from. I few things that I point out. First is that marriage as defined in the Bible goes back for thousands of years. It is not just Christians but the Jewish faith that shares the Old Testament with the Christians. Muslims as well recognize the The Old Testament as scared text. The New Testament also defines the relationship among the same gender as an abomination, using the example of women who lay together as they would with a man. Bestiality is also labeled as an abomination.
    Next, dietary restrictions; It is widely believed that in the New Testament when Jesus Christ stated that what goes into your mouth does not make you ‘unclean’ but what comes out of it. In other words, your words reflect the intention of your heart and provide evidence of beliefs.

    Political parties aside. We all live on the same planet as human beings, I don’t hate another because of what they believe. I won’t believe the same as another, but I am willing to have a grown up, rational conversation and if what I have to say makes sense so be it. Don’t label me or mine with hate labels because I(we) believe other than the way you do.

    Question: What is the harm in saying “Merry Christmas”?

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    • Thank you for your comment, Mick.
      In response to your comment about the Jewish faith and Islam recognizing marriage the same way: that is not at question, I merely use Christianity as an example because it is the most heavily-followed religion in America, and the world. You do not respond to my argument in any way with that statement, you simply restate what I said, without the point that marriage does not have its roots in Hebrew-based faiths.

      I assume that when you refer to the New Testament mentioning “relationships among the same gender as an abomination,” you are referring to the passage in Romans; it says nothing to the end that marriage between two men or two women is forsaken, simply that it is forbidden for Christians to partake in actions that are ‘unnatural.’ However, we know now, because academics are no longer sworn to a bronze-aged book, that ‘gay’ relations occurs between all great apes, several new world monkeys, and marine mammals such as dolphins.

      You seem to be defending Christian thought on the issue, but are not furthering your cause of advocating the inequality to people that are different than you. I restate a point I made from the post: Religious doctrine cannot be the root determinant of Constitutional law. It is pointless to argue reasons why I should believe Christians, Neo-Nazis, Muslims, or any other hate groups follow what they want to inside their facilities walls. I do not care what you choose to believe. Simply keep those ideas out of legislation. I am interested in truth value with the statements I make, and it might be the verificationalist in me, but I do believe I made an adequate rebuttal to religious and non-religious arguments for marriage-equality.

      I am guilty of generalizing Christianity a bit, but you can’t shame me for that, you assume that I have a problem with the phrase ‘Merry Christmas.’

      (1) I do not endorse statements that mean nothing, but I do smile because Christian mythology stole the holiday from the Persian God Mithra and Egyptian God Horus.

      (2) The term ‘Merry Christmas’ is simply a speech act that has no more meaning than ‘God Dammit,’ ‘Jesus Christ,’ or ‘Son of a Bitch’ outside of contextual constraints.

      Thank you for your time, Rev Mick. I hope that I have responded adequately to your statements.

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      • The argument for the ‘naturalness’ of homosexual behavior is itself, unfortunately, fallacious. To justify the ‘naturalness’ of an action occurring in the ‘human kingdom’ by the occurrence of that same action in the ‘animal kingdom’ forces one to justify rape, male chauvinism, dictatorships based upon power imbalances and fear, and social darwinism among other things. Such arguments do not create just humans, but rather justify animality.

      • Actually, the justification of the action is irrelevant to the argument. The mere presence of homosexual acts in nature sets a precedent to say that the actions occur between non-rationally cognitive mammals (like chimpanzees and dolphins) shows that it is not a rational choice based on human thought process, but a natural occurrence. I’m sure that you could say that actions akin to ‘rape’ occur in several species during mating season, but I do believe you would be hard pressed to find a dictatorship among Zebras or an instance of Male chauvinism a midst the schools of fish in the Pacific. Your claim to refute my argument is erroneous.

        Additionally, you seem to be making some sort of claim that human beings are on a much higher plain than other species. Again, I would disagree and say that in many ways, qualities in humanity are more detrimental to the species (such as rational though giving rise to actions of greed) that make humanity no better than “animality.”

      • Dustin, I’m not suggesting homosexuality is a cognitive choice, but since you laugh at the argument that same-sex marriage will lead to men marrying horses, I laugh when people use the presence of homosexual acts in nature as well. Well, I don’t laugh at them, but I think it is a weak precedent. To follow the precedent set forth by animals puts humans on the same plane as those animals. I personally have higher expectations from humans and see us with a divine nature, different than other animals. I believe there is a natural part of man, but it is the more base part. The spirit part of a man is and should be higher than the animal part. We are free to choose in life which part of us we will cater to. But I recognize the religious subjectivity of my argument, I just wanted to share it.

  4. Sad that you see things through a still religious eyes though trying to not be. A sensible person would see that marriage is a civil issue not a religious, it is not always for procreation, if it were then those who get married and find that they are unable to bear children should have their marriages annulled. Many people who seek same sex marriage are seeking to legalize there relationship.

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  5. I suggest the problem is conflating a religious sacrament, marriage, with a set of civil benefits. The government shouldn’t be in the marriage business, period, because we separate Church and State in the US. The government shouldn’t recognize religious marriage at all, just as the government doesn’t recognize religious divorce. Want to be married? Find a religious organization that will marry y’all. Want the civil benefits of government recognition of your partners? Get a civil union at the Courthouse.

    Get government out of religion. Get religion out of government. Simple, and people shouldn’t be all itchy that government offers some tax penalties and contractual shortcuts to various groups.

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  6. i love the word ‘abomination’ and here it a television evangilist tone. i used to get angry at people like those you mention but now it gives me something to laugh about and you what is said about laughter, it is good for the soul. great stuff here

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  7. I don’t want to go point/counterpoint with you here because the arguments you’ve given are very generalized and stereotyped (prejudicially in the case of the southern accent) and I feel any discussion on these points would border on contentious. I don’t think your presentation of the “other side’s” argument is very fair. In order for it to be fair I suggest not ridiculing it in the same breath. That’s my reaction, here are my (slightly less reactive) thoughts…I’m trying!

    What one generation abhors, the next tends to tolerate and the third will embrace. To look at changes in the last 50 years only is shortsighted. To think that there has been enough time to determine the universal effect of same-sex couples raising children will be seen in only 20 years is in the same category, shortsighted. To think that the traditional family originated in the communism-fearing 1950s is false. What did families look like in the U.S. from its foundation up until the 1950s?

    I’m sorry, that was more contentious than I wanted it to be.

    I’d like to add an argument from the religious side that you missed. This is what I believe. God ordained marriage as between man and woman. It is a union that provides for the only natural method of procreation and the best method for child rearing. The ideal family situation is father, mother and children. This is natural (just as there aren’t any dictatorships among zebras, there aren’t any adoption agencies either). Any sexual act outside of the bonds of legal and lawful marriage (religious or civil) is a sin, whether we are talking heterosexual or homosexual participants. This means that homosexual activity is akin to fornication and adultery; religious marriage is only between man and woman. All sexual sin is an abomination before God. This doesn’t mean he hates the perpetrators. God loves all of his children, and he has certain rules if we want to return to him after this life, he still loves us when we sin, but in the process we remove ourselves from him through our rebellion.

    We shouldn’t unrighteously judge and hate each other, either. There is a saying “don’t hate me because I sin differently than you.” I think that is appropriate in this discussion. This issue for me isn’t about civil rights, it is about God’s law. You and I likely won’t agree on the topic of God’s law, and THAT is our right. It is our right to believe what we want and to disagree. We are free to do what we want, so if the majority of this country decides to institute same-sex marriage then by all means lets do it, but for me that won’t change God’s law. We will always be accountable to that law.

    Because I have love for people generally and because I believe that there are immutable laws by which God operates, I feel it is appropriate for me to take a civil stand against things that I think will violate God’s laws. This is how you operate, this is how I operate, this is how everyone operates. We have our life construct and then live in accordance with it. There is no point in hating anyone over their construct if it doesn’t agree with our own. All we can do is discuss and share our perspective in hopes of reaching mutually agreeable terms. It will never work if we are closed off and unforgiving. But, to be open and forgiving does not mean to embrace every change of culture or society and to give up deeply held beliefs. Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, if taken to an extreme it can become a vice, I heard that said over the weekend.

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    • I agree with your advice of “In order for it to be fair I suggest not ridiculing it in the same breath” even though I am need of the same advice.

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      • Yeah, I realized after I typed this comment to Dustin that I did the exact same thing in a recent post. I guess it’s the plague of humanity to easily spot little things we think are amiss in others and miss the obvious errors in our own ways. We work on it though and as long as we are all kind about it with each other we hopefully overcome it.

  8. I’ve really enjoyed the variety of responses here, as well as the original post of course. I can’t add much that hasn’t been said already, except perhaps that the entire discussion is moot. The poll numbers reflect an inevitable trend. Same sex marriages are going to become legal nationally. The Supreme Court will not disallow the individual states from defining marriage, as they always have. The states are moving toward legalization in greater number, with increasing rapidity. This isn’t like what happened decades ago about the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. This change in law doesn’t require a Constitutional Amendment, and the one national law in opposition (the Defense of Marriage Act) is indefensible in court. No matter what the basis for your objections, you had better find a way to get used to this happening. It will.

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  9. I’m a bit confused by your post because I saw you wrote in the second paragraphs “We will save the fun, religious arguments for later”.
    I didn’t see you explicitly write that were up to “later”, but towards the end of the post you did “deal” with religious arguments. Is that intentional or are you going to deal with those arguments in a future post?

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  10. http://froodianpseudoanalysis.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/but-enough-of-this-gay-banter/

    For what it’s worth, and in the interests of furthering the conversation on your thread, that’s a mildly garbled post I once wrote on the subject, although it specifically pertains to the UK.

    I’d go further though to say that so-called gay rights issues tend to follow an historical trend, again, at least in the UK.

    1) no we couldn’t possibly; it’s ghastly. Look at all the people who are appalled by the very notion.
    2) oh dear, the law appears to have been changed. We will fight this to the house of lords and beyond. We shall not stop until basic decency has been upheld.
    3) oh dear, it turns out we couldn’t rely on the house of lords to quite the extent that we thought we could, and our number of supporters appears to have dwindled rather drastically.
    4) me and a hardcore of people will continue to flog this horse, even though it appears to have expired (see also: fox hunting)
    5) no, no, I’m not a bigot and I was never against it – things were said but really it was all taken out of context.

    Examples: legalisation of homosexuality, reduction of age of consent from 21 to 18, from 18 to 16, etc etc.

    Basically, it’s gonna happen, kids, best learn to deal if you’re not on board.

    __

    I genuinely believe that the religious should be entitled to pursue their own beliefs without scorn, but that that does not provide a mandate to attempt to impose those views on wider society. I also think that their rights must be protected against the intolerance of modern tolerance, and that accordingly no one should be forcing them to give blessings to homosexual marriages against their wishes, or those of their laity.

    That might suck if you’re both gay and Roman Catholic, but if the aim is to provide a level playing field that doesn’t discriminate against people for what are often ultimately arbitrary characteristics, that’s inevitable.

    I hope that made sense.

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  11. You have more patience, Dustin, than I can summon for presenting arguments and more hope than do I for the notion that thoughtful discussion can change hearts, opinions and behavior. Or perhaps I have had the misfortune to have flattened my head running into brick walls at every turn: religious system, legal system, educational system, societal prejudice . . . and I’m either the wiser or dumber for it, and have taken to living life as best I can as an openly gay man, raising my voice as I feel compelled, doubtful of the effect on minds that will not to open. Meanwhile, you write cogently and succinctly, with warmth and intelligence. More power to you.

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  12. Hey man. Muhammad was a middle eastern who claimed to be a prophet of Christ, when he wasnt. He is not Part of Christianity. So the paragraph you talked about the Bible and Muhammad and saying ” if you’re worried about polygamy, you’re not reading your bible very well” was invalid. Marriage is for 2. says it right in the bible i believe in Numbers.

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  13. Ditto what Hera said. I could not come close to arguing this so clearly. You are a clear thinker and writer. Thank you!!!!

    And thanks for liking my blog post today. Glad to meet you.

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  14. This article doesn’t deal adequately with Christian thought on the matter, as (1) it addresses only one Old Testament passage (I assume Leviticus 18:22 due to the other ‘abominations’ listed in the same book), and (2) places an unreasonable epistemic demand on the common Christian believer.

    (1) The Pauline books deal with homosexuality on several occasions (Romans 1, and Corinthians 6), yet this remains unaddressed. My reading of the 2nd to last paragraph is that by claiming the Leviticus passage as true, Christians open themselves to a reductio ad absurdum, since they must affirm foolish things like ‘the evils of multi-fabric tees,’ or else perform an ad hoc maneuver of taking what they like (prohibition of homosexuality) and leaving what they don’t (prohibition of ham etc).

    However, the Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong is significantly based in the Pauline books, which don’t address these other food and behavior laws. So, the argument against them is incomplete if it only deals with the OT passages, and the reductio ad absurdum doesn’t apply since the Pauline books make this moral claim about homosexuality without demanding the absurd food laws be applied as well.

    (2) While seemingly less important to the argument, the final bit of that paragraph (2nd to last) says this position (being anti-homosexuality while saying eating ham is ok) removes credibility from the common Christian believers, since they are ill-equipped to interpret the Bible in such a way. However, this is a poor epistemic demand to make of the common believer. Being unable to read Hebrew, and/or not having a degree in the study of ancient literature should not make us believe that an individual cannot have a legitimate understanding of what the Bible means. We certainly don’t make the same claim in similar situations.

    For example, if the leaders of the church are sufficiently educated in those languages and their use in ancient times, the common believer is perfectly justified in following the lead of said leaders. And this is how we treat the layperson in most situations. We don’t invalidate a person’s understanding that evolution is true because he/she doesn’t understand the deeper depths of genetics probed by the university biologist; nor do we invalidate the man who believes in the date of the universe because he doesn’t understand the equations of astrophysics. (These situations are similar since the requirement being placed in that the Christian must be able to interpret a difficult piece of ancient literature written in a foreign language, which is like demanding a layperson know high level physics or biology before claiming certain scientific facts are true).

    Why should we therefore invalidate the beliefs of the Christian commoner who believes in a certain interpretation of Leviticus simply for the reason that he believes it based on what experts in Hebrew and ancient literature expose? We may invalidate this belief for other reasons (i.e. arguments that the OT is unreliable etc), but we would be inconsistent and foolish to do so simply because he hasn’t performed an act of original research, can’t read Hebrew, or doesn’t possess a degree in ancient literature. In other words, we can’t claim the common Christian losses credibility for not being able to interpret his own holy book, unless we also claim the common man loses credibility not being able to interpret lofty scientific data.

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