4.03.2009

Marriage Minus Procreation Equals "Homosexual Marriage," Now in Iowa!

Homosexual couples in Iowa may enter into civil marriage, effective April 24, 2009, according to an Iowa Supreme Court ruling issued today (Varnum v. Brien).

What does this have to do with this "Lutherans and Procreation" blog? Nothing and everything. Homosexual "marriage" has nothing to do with procreation, and that's why it has everything to do with this blog -- a blog which has been tracing out the history of the separation of procreation from marriage and sexuality.

It is telling that Iowa's high court justified its approval of same-sex marriage on the claim that same-sex couples are "similarly situated" as compared with heterosexual couples, and that it identified the two kinds of couples as similarly situated precisely by overlooking the most obvious difference: heterosexuals naturally have the potential to procreate; homosexuals do not.

Here's how the reasoning went:

First, the constitutional guarantee to equal protection of the laws was interpreted thus: "To truly ensure equality before the law, the equal protection guarantee requires that laws treat all those who are similarly situated with respect to the purposes of the law alike." (p. 27, emphasis original)

Second, the purposes of Iowa marriage law were defined to include the following characteristics (and notice that procreation is not listed):
Plaintiffs [the homosexual couples suing for the right to marry] are in committed and loving relationships, many raising families, just like heterosexual couples. Moreover, official recognition of their status provides an institutional basis for defining their fundamental relational rights and responsibilities, just as it does for heterosexual couples. Society benefits, for example, from providing same-sex couples a stable framework within which to raise their children and the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions for loved ones, just as it does when that framework is provided for opposite-sex couples.
In short, for purposes of Iowa’s marriage laws, which are designed to bring a sense of order to the legal relationships of committed couples and their families in myriad ways, plaintiffs are similarly situated in every important respect, but for their sexual orientation. (p. 28)
Third, given that definition of "marriage" and that interpretation of the "equal protection" clause of the Constitution, together with the longstanding history of permitting homosexuals to adopt and thereby raise children, the conclusion is inevitable: homosexual couples may enter into civil marriage just as well as heterosexual couples. Simple as that.

A later footnote emphasizes the irrelevance of procreation to marriage, as construed by the court:
The County references plaintiffs’ inability to procreate “naturally,” presumably pointing out each couple’s inability to procreate without assistance. Plaintiffs’ inability to contribute children to society by procreation through sexual intercourse with each other does not dictate the outcome of our consideration under this factor. The inquiry into gay and lesbian people’s ability to contribute to society is a general one, designed to signal whether such classifications routinely risk elevating stereotype over ability. A person’s ability to procreate is merely one of many ways in which the person can contribute to society. While the narrower consideration of plaintiffs’ procreative abilities may be relevant to whether section 595.2 ultimately passes judicial scrutiny, consideration of those abilities is less helpful in determining which level of scrutiny to apply. That is, the inability of gay and lesbian partners to contribute by procreation through sexual intercourse with each other does not indicate whether legislative classifications based on sexual preference—which can conceivably occur in any legislative subject matter area—will generally be based on “stereotyped characteristics not truly indicative of their abilities.” Murgia, 427 U.S. at 313, 96 S. Ct. at 2566, 49 L. Ed. 2d at 525. (p. 49, n. 18)
So, marriage is not about procreation per se, but rather about "contributing to society" in various ways, and procreation need not be one of those ways. It's one thing, of course, to say a marriage between a particular man and a particular woman remains valid despite their inability to conceive (due to infertility that hinders their otherwise natural procreative potential); but here we find the claim that a marriage between two persons of the same sex is valid despite their inability, even theoretically, to ever have the prospect of conceiving naturally.

The County tried to justify its enforcement of Iowa's "marriage is between one man and one woman" law by noting the following two points. First, that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation (for without procreation, society cannot continue). Second, that homosexuals cannot procreate. The Court, however, rejected this reasoning, insisting that
Gay and lesbian persons are capable of procreation. Thus, the sole conceivable avenue by which exclusion of gay and lesbian people from civil marriage could promote more procreation is if the unavailability of civil marriage for same-sex partners caused homosexual individuals to “become” heterosexual in order to procreate within the present traditional institution of civil marriage. The briefs, the record, our research, and common sense do not suggest such an outcome. (p. 59)
Ironically, then, the admission that homosexual persons (as distinct from homosexual couples) can procreate (by entering heterosexual relations) is twisted to somehow defend their "right" to homosexual "marriage," since there's no evidence that denying them the opportunity for homosexual marriage would increase the likelihood that they would in fact seek procreative relations with persons of the opposite sex.

In summary, heterosexual marriages do not necessarily foster procreation, nor do homosexual marriages necessarily deter procreation; procreation has nothing to do with marriage, and hence heterosexual couples (despite being potentially procreative) and homosexual couples (despite being decidedly non-procreative) are entitled an equal right to enter into civil marriage. They are, as the Court has phrased it, "similarly situated."

How did we get here? The severence of procreative potential from marital intercourse, implicit in the acceptance of contraceptive relations among heterosexual couples, seems to have provided a premise upon which homosexual couples later could build a winnable case for marriage to be redefined in their favor. In the legal realm, heterosexual couples provided this premise in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Roe v. Wade (1973); in the theological realm, it starts at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, and we are still trying to figure out where it ends.

What we need now are not better attorneys (for, with even Iowa succumbing to same-sex marriage, the culture war must now be declared over). What we need are prayers for repentance. Providentially, Iowa's legalization of same-sex marriage has come during Lent. O Christ, have mercy and forgive!

2 comments:

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GL said...

This is a very good post. Unfortunately, the Christian contribution to the growing acceptance of same-sex "marriage" is greater than most realize.

"But the exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches, follows. . . . Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. . . . He committed an evil deed. Therefore God punished him. . . . That worthless fellow . . . preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother." (Luther's Works, Vol. 7, p. 20-21.)

Thus, Luther (and Aquinas before him) declared contraceptive sexual intercourse to be nothing less than sodomy. By accepting contraceptive sexual intercourse within our marriages, we have, in essence and to that extent, accepted sodomitic marriages. And that acceptance, even among most Christians, took place decades ago, well before the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s. What we are seeing now is the natural development from our own acceptance of contraceptive sexual intercourse within marriage. Indeed, I have read "conservative" Christian commentators who maintain that consummated oral sex is licit for a married Christian couple. Once contraception was accepted, separating the marital act from procreation, why not? And once it became acceptable by many Christians for a husband and wife to engage in such acts within their marriage, what basis did such Christians have to oppose two men or two women "marrying" each other? None.

I am sad to say that Christians who practice contraception, direct sterilization, and sexual acts which by their nature cannot be procreative within their marriages have no basis to oppose same-sex "marriage." Matthew 7:1-5 stands as a bar to their opposition.

A few years ago, the Washington State Supreme Court rejected a claim that same-sex "marriage" was mandated by that state's constitution. In so doing, the court specifically noted the relationship between marriage and procreation. A same-sex "marriage" advocate then started a petition drive to have any marriage between a man and a woman which failed to produce issue within a few years declared null and void. While he certainly had vile motives and while infertile couples who engage in intercourse which by its nature could be procreative are married whether they produce issue or not, he was making a very valid point. When heterosexuals marry and choose to be childless by deliberately making their marital intimacy sterile, they are just as guilty of pseudogamy (false marriage) as are those of the same sex who "marry." Unless and until Christians repent as to this sin, we can expect no turning of the tide. And we certainly should not expect God to bless our hypocritical efforts in opposition to same-sex "marriage."