Monday, May 17, 2010

Does "Same-sex Marriage" Change the Essence of Marriage Itself?

In the last issue of Christianity Today, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway writes in her column entitled "Same Sex, Different Marriage" that:
Same-sex marriage advocates frequently ask, "How would gay marriage affect your marriage?" The question is posed rhetorically as if marriage is a private institution with no social consequences. But The New York Times, of all papers, argues that gay unions could significantly alter marriage norms. A new study of gay couples in San Francisco shows that half are "open," meaning that partners consent to each other having sex with other people. The Times says that the prevalence of such relationships could "rewrite the traditional rules of matrimony" by showing straight couples that monogamy need not be a "central feature" of marriage and that sexually open relationships might "point the way for the survival of the institution."
This challenge to monogamy is a direct and lethal attack on the heart of marriage itself, as it has been understood in the West and throughout human history in all cultures. Attacking monogamy has always been a central theme of the sexual revolution because it is viewed as limiting individual autonomy and potentially standing in the way of individual fulfillment.

The push for "same-sex marriage" operates on two distinct but inter-related levels. On the first level we see hard-core activists of two types. There are cultural Marxists fired up with the spirit of revolution who believe that the middle-class family structure must be destroyed and that whatever rises from the rubble will undoubtedly be better. They are, as history shows, dangerously naive. And then there the hedonistic nihilists who reject everything except personal gratification at the level of animalistic passions. These two groups make up the hard core of "same-sex marriage" activists and they hate marriage and want to destroy it.

But on a completely different level we see middle-class, confused, post-Christian liberals, whose concept of freedom has degenerated into a simplistic and thin "freedom from constraint" and who no longer have any basis for saying "No" to the enemies of marriage. When the hard-core activists throw them a bone by pretending to be wanting "same-sex marriage" instead of the outright and immediate destruction of marriage altogether they eagerly seize on it as a "compromise." Oh joy, we can all just get along after all!

When pro-promiscuity, anti-monogamy crusaders pretend that this new beast called "same-sex marriage" will be exactly like traditional marriage except for that one little detail, the liberals trumpet how we are now converting the homosexuals to the traditional view of marriage as the life-long, exclusive union of two people. So what is the fuss if they both happen to be men? Everything is as before; we are just more tolerant and open-minded. This is the line that has worked well at liberal Protestant church conventions and synods where little old church ladies and puttering bishops have swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker.

How the hard-core activists must be laughing up their sleeves at the nativity and gullibility of liberal Protestant church leaders who are swept off their moorings by an incremental approach that plays up victimhood and turns the liberal narrative of progressive emancipation against the very core tenets of Christianity itself and against the family.

The struggle going on today is between those who see a life-long, exclusive sexual relationship as the core of the family and those who see it as an unwarranted constriction of individual freedom to grow and explore and pursue self-fulfillment.

Ziegler Hemingway sees into the core of the issue when she writes:
To be sure, some advocates of same-sex marriage hope that heterosexual marital norms of monogamy and fidelity would be transferred to same-sex unions. But since these norms are based on the ideal that marriage is the union of a man and a woman making a permanent and exclusive commitment for the purpose of bearing and rearing children, it would be irrational to expect same-sex partners - whose sexual relations bear no risk of procreation - to share the same norms.
Note the word "irrational" in that quotation. That is the crucial point. There is a logic in traditional marriage that points toward monogamy that is missing in same-sex relationships. That logic is built into the structure of the human person as male and female. We are essentially (not accidentally or by preference or choice) relational and the core of our being is our maleness and our femaleness. To be human is to be one or the other and to be male or female is to be oriented toward a certain vocation in terms of roles and duties.

Modernity hates talk of fixed roles and duties because it is essentially a rebellion against human nature itself. But Christianity is a joyful "Yes" to our having been created in this way - as male and female in the image of God.

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