Posted on Apr 29, 2012 by Tom Gilson
- Marriage, Reason and Religion: Non-Religious Reasons to Oppose SSM
- SSM, Reason, and the Religious Divide: More Non-Religious Reasons to Oppose SSM
- SSM, Reason, and the Religious Divide: The Essential Meaning of “Marriage”
- SSM: Reason and the Religious Divide Part 4: Children
I am continuing my extended answer to the charge, “there are no non-religious reasons to oppose same-sex marriage.” The following comes from a two-part tour de force by Anthony Esolen in Touchstone Magazine in 2010. I wish I could direct all of you to the original articles, but they are available only to subscribers. It’s one of my two or three favorite magazines, and well worth paying for, but I can’t expect all will do that, so I’ll summarize as best I can.
Esolen wrote ten arguments in defense of marriage. I will not be able to fully defend them in the space available. I’m not sure I’ll even be able to begin to defend some of them in this space, because they call upon a certain sensibility that I cannot assume among my readers, and for which I cannot offer the full argument. He refers, for example, to Spenser’s Epithalamion, and draws from it the conclusion, “Here we have an understanding of marriage infinitely deeper than the meager expression of will we are now left with.” It’s a powerful argument, but it’s open to a brutish sort of “Oh, yeah, well, so what?” from those who think the wisdom of the past twenty years exceeds that of the ages. Much as I would like to be, I am in no position to try to talk anyone out of that mindset.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read the Epithalamion; but I have at least an openness to the idea of “understanding of marriage infinitely deeper….” I don’t hear much of the language of depth being spoken in this debate. So for reasons like that I’ll stick with a few of the more contemporaneously obvious points instead.
1, 2. Esolen spoke of how “the legalization of homosexual pseudogamy would enshrine the sexual revolution in law,” and how “it would enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.” Some see this as not such a bad thing. This is blindness.
The sexual chaos has touched every family in the nation. Who does not know at least one family whose children require an essay merely to describe who under their roof is related to whom, and how?
Some reckon up the losses from this revolution by percentages: of unwed mothers, of aborted pregnancies, of children growing up without a parent, usually the father. It will take artists of the most penetrating insight to reckon up the losses as they ought to be reckoned, in human misery.
5. It will “curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained.”
Indeed, how many of us can understand the passion of friendship in David’s lament for Jonathan, or Gilgamesh’s lament for Enkidu, without coloring it with the suspicion of homosexuality? … Unless they are comfortable with the meaning, they will shy away from one another; the friendship will not deepen. Confess, reader: if you come upon two teenage boys in a pond skinny-dipping, it is the first thing you will think, and you will think it despite the fact that before bathing suits were invented, it was the only way two boys could ever be found swimming.
Many are the times my daughter has said at the dinner table, “I really like some girl or other at school … but not in that way!” It hurts to see how cautious she has had to be about her same-sex friendships. The innocence is gone. Every relationship is potentially sexual. This is deadly.
6. It leaves us with no grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.
In a word, all the good arguments for homosexual “marriage” are equally good arguments for any form of “marriage” among any adults whatsoever.
7. The legalization of homosexual pseudogamy seals us in a culture of divorce.
Divorce begins by undermining trust in marriage (and that is bad enough, given our plummeting birthrates) and ends by undermining trust altogether. We must retrace our steps; we must bring some semblance of justice back to divorce law.
But how can we do so while legalizing homosexual pseudogamy? Again, the principle for the legalization is that people have a right to “fulfill” themselves sexually. But some marriages are unhappy—or some people who are married come to think that it would be more “fulfilling” to leap the fence. How can we deny them this? Or how can we blame them? How can we penalize the breaker of a family, when his or her motives are those we have blessed in the case of the homosexual?
Finally, a most powerful consideration:
10. It spells disaster for children.
We will be visiting a crisis of identity upon every child in our society. That, in fact, is the intention of many homosexual activists, whose revenge upon the children who were once cruel or indifferent to them is to afflict other children with doubts, to make them endure the questions that they themselves endured.
All this is done under the guise of charity for the homosexual teenager, but true charity would refrain from plunging children into the trouble in the first place, and would instead offer an unambiguous expectation of heterosexuality. That would give many pubescent teens the wherewithal to shrug off the random doubt, rather than causing it to grow into a dreadful prognosis.
These are not “religious” arguments. They are human arguments.
This is not a battle of religion vs. secular sensibility. It’s a completely different kind of battle than that. I told you earlier that I would be aiming this series toward an end of explaining why it seems to be religion vs. non-religion, and when I get there I think you’ll understand what I mean.