Is The Gay Marriage Debate Over?
What the battle for traditional marriage means for Americans—and evangelicals.
Mark Galli | posted 7/24/2009 10:27AM
An excerpt with my comments:
One could become wistful about the time in history when marriage was a settled affair, when everyone agreed on what it was, when no nation on the planet would have entertained the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage. But wistfulness is usually reserved for times long ago and places far away—not for a state of affairs that existed less than a decade ago.
In December 2000, the Dutch parliament became the first to pass legislation that gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce, and adopt children. On April 1 of the following year, the mayor of Amsterdam officiated, for the first time in human history, at the ceremonies of the first four gay couples. In the ensuing eight years, Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), and Norway (2008) followed the Netherlands' lead, and Sweden may now not be far behind.
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[T]raditional Christians feel like the armored tank of history is rolling over them, crushing traditional marriage under its iron treads, impervious to argument, the ballot box, or judicial logic. Even more disheartening has been to witness how, in each mainline denomination, and even in some evangelical seminaries, fellow Christians lobby hard for gay marriage.
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David Blankenhorn, president of the New York–based Institute for American Values and author of The Future of Marriage, argued this in a nonreligious way in a September 2008 Los Angeles Times op-ed. There is one constant in the constantly evolving understanding of marriage, he says: "In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children."
Further, he says, "Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other."
The argument is nuanced, and goes on to take into account heterosexual couples who will not or cannot have children. But he grounds marriage not in two people, but in two communities: the family and the state.
McGill University law professor Margaret Somerville, in a 2003 brief before Canada's Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, argued in much the same way. She says that to form a society, we must create "a societal-cultural paradigm." This is a constellation of "values, principles, attitudes, beliefs, and myths" by which a society finds value and meaning, both individually and collectively.
"Reproduction is the fundamental occurrence on which, ultimately, the future of human life depends," she says. "That is the primary reason why marriage is important to society." Thus, it is crucial that societies protect marriage as a fact and as a symbol, as that institution that fosters human life, doing so in the context of family and society. "Even if a particular man and woman cannot or do not want to have a child, their getting married does not damage this general symbolism."
Again, the argument is involved and nuanced. Both Blankenhorn and Somerville ground marriage in something larger than two selves who wish to find fulfillment. Marriage is inescapably connected to children and thus family, and family is inescapably connected to society.
The fact is that "if a particular man and woman [choose not to] have a child [as opposed to cannot], their getting married does . . . damage this general symbolism" and, indeed, the very foundation upon which marriage is built. I posted the following comment in to the article"
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony . . . duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained. First, It was ordained for the procreation of children . . . . Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication . . . . Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort . . . ." By accepting the licitness of contraception in the past century, "against almost unbroken [Christian] disapproval", as C.S. Lewis noted, Christians have undermined one of the three foundations upon which marriage is built. If we are to offer a coherent defense of traditional marriage, we must be open to life in our marital intimacy, returning to the accepted understanding of all Christians prior to the 20th century that contraception is gravely sinful. Matt. 7:1-5. May the Lord have mercy and forgive our sins.
Most of the other comments on the article rend one's heart.