No sound reason exists for sanctifying or honoring gay relationships. Sensible Muslims and Christians agree on this: perhaps they should unite their protesting voices.
Say that the proper motive for marriage is love. Let “love” remain undefined for the time being, since all definitions in contemporary society seem to be of the free-floating, evolving, open-ended variety. Say that two people of the same sex feel this nebulous love. Both admire the other’s virtues, share the other’s tastes, are stirred by the other’s intellectual interests, and subscribe to the other’s essential moral values. This sort of thing used to be called friendship. I suppose we may still call it so. One does not have to marry one’s friends. Great conversations over lunch and weekend jaunts to the museum or the stadium or the fishing hole do not require sharing the same bed.
Obviously, then, love that leads to marriage entails something more than friendship. In the case of a man and a woman, it involves sexual attraction—as it does, I must suppose, in the case of two men or two women. The heterosexual couple, however, has traditionally been drawn together by a further and unique bond: the desire to have children—to raise a family. Homosexual couples may or may not claim to have this desire. (Fewer and fewer heterosexual couples lay claim to it—a sure measure of child-rearing’s decline among our society’s dominant values.) One can scarcely believe, however, that the “family” motive exerts much force upon the gay union, since such a pair is plainly condemned to sterility without some elaborate sort of intervention from without the narrow limits of the marriage. A person who strongly desires children doesn’t marry a sixty-year-old woman: neither does he marry another “he”.
This leads us back to into obscurity. Somewhere between a deep friendship and a dedication to child-rearing is the turf whereon the gay marriage must build its foundation. Or maybe the middle ground is all too clear: maybe it’s just sex. Yet people have enjoyed sex for time immemorial without feeling compelled to secure or disguise its thrills in marriage. One might even conjecture without great risk that marriages made to secure or disguise thrilling sex don’t last long. Perhaps we’re missing something here: perhaps something more is involved in the gay equation than “close friendship + good sex”. What might that something be… are there parallel cases in heterosexual relationships? That is, do man/woman marriages exist where the couple does not desire children yet is held together by something more than friendship (which is insufficient reason for marriage) and sexual arousal (which is an indecorous reason to request the union’s sanctification)?
Sometimes a pair of senior citizens marries. Clearly such people do not desire offspring from their union, and they probably, as well, do not look for much in the way of sexual satisfaction. They are likely two very good friends who wish to share a residence not only for round-the-clock company but also for reasons of physical safety (since isolation poses special risks to the elderly). Were the two of the same sex, they would simply become housemates; but if they are man and woman, they may choose marriage so as not to puzzle or vex the conventional standards of those around them.
There’s certainly nothing analogous to gay marriage here. The gay couple, far from being beyond any care about sexual satisfaction, brings that motive to the fore: it’s the explicit reason (by their own report) why gays have to stray from the heterosexual norm. I have never heard, furthermore, that gays desire conjugal union as a defense against redneck burglars or lynch mobs. Their public juncture, on the contrary, would greatly multiply the tiny probability that men in overalls with pitchforks would show up at their door. And the couple is obviously not pursuing marriage to assuage conventional sensibilities: the opposite charge that the two actively desire to outrage convention would make some kind of sense, but not the claim that they want to take it easy on us traditionalists.
What about the young, healthy heterosexual couple that marries yet devoutly desires never to have children? There are more than a few such pairs today. I do not refer to childless couples, which belong in an entirely different category. Even when these latter fail to adopt (and, with abortion being so fashionable, adoption can consume much time and expense), they remain important to children. Childless spouses furnish aunts and uncles that sometimes grow closer to little ones than the children’s own parents. In ancient Ireland and many other tribal cultures, a family with several offspring would routinely send one to be raised to a brother or sister whose marriage had proved infertile.
The pairs I mean, rather, lay careful plans to stay childless. Their members may have professional careers that neither the man nor the woman wants to see overshadowed by the duties of child-rearing. Yet such people nevertheless marry because they don’t wish to live in celibacy, they don’t have time to court new dating partners every few weeks or months, they are afraid of virulent and prolific social diseases, and—just maybe, if the cake has icing—they have met a particular person who attracts them intellectually as well as sexually.
This situation appears to resemble homosexual relationships far more than the elderly marriage. I will surely shock some of my readers when I charge that it is also, like gay marriage, a vicious kind of union. The two heterosexuals I have just described don’t deserve to have their partnership sanctified. Theirs is an arrangement of squalid convenience. Especially in the twenty-first century West, such people might as well just move in together and leave it at that. Most of them do. Tax laws may favor the married couple over the cohabiting one in some cases, but I scarcely think I need to explain why that motive does nothing to bring the relationship closer to sanctity. On the contrary, financial profit would make the claim all the more obscene that the arrangement has “God’s blessing”. Which god would that be—Mammon or Aphrodite?
May these unions be redeemed by some motive involving “honor”, as is occasionally alleged? That is, should we view with reverence an exchange of vows that allows either party to hold the other up before the community and declare, “This is my chosen mate”? Why? What in that announcement should excite your and my respect? What is honorable about selecting an individual to satisfy one’s sexual urges and, perhaps, provide good conversation? The service may be pleasant to both parties; it is exceptionally so in most cases, presumably… but honorable? We award honor to a person who suppresses his or her selfish interests to give arduous, often dangerous assistance to others for little or no material recompense. That’s honorable. The “help” given by sexual partners is definitively self-interested, even when not contemptible for flowing from pure lust (e.g., the semi-sober Vegas wedding accomplished after one evening of intense groping). In the most benign of cases, the exchange of favors is still entirely private. Why would I publicly honor you—renting an auditorium and demanding the attendance of all my friends—for doing my taxes? Why would you publicly honor me—bestowing a blue ribbon before summoned news reporters—for washing your car? The public has no stake whatever in such arrangements. If you and I nevertheless need bells to ring and people to cheer because a friend has pleased us, then we must be considered narcissistic to the brink of insanity.
Heterosexual marriage has traditionally been celebrated because the couple is viewed as making a sacrifice to the commonwealth—surrendering the selfish joys of playing the field, that is, in order to produce and raise children for the community’s future wellbeing. The idea isn’t to honor Susan because Jack can’t wait to get her under the sheets, or to honor Jack because he’s the first guy not to run out on Susan. The interested parties are understandably happy for self-centered reasons; but if they suppose that the community should kneel and throw flowers just because they’re happy, then they must be rather sick, whether their mate’s sex is different from or the same as theirs. Caligula expected such honors: sane people do not. Your personal happiness is your own affair. It doesn’t rate a separate channel on Dish Network.
To conclude this inventory of marriage profiles, I cannot see how the gay variety emerges as anything holier than a maximization of safe, happy sex—and I don’t understand, furthermore, how any moderately thoughtful, reverent person can accept this as a ground for matrimony rather than for shacking up.
I can understand the state’s originally encouraging marriage with tax perks. Contemporary Europe shows us what happens to nations whose citizens stop reproducing. Since easy and efficient provision of a next generation is spectacularly not the goal of gay marriage, however, maybe the time has arrived to dispense with all such manipulation of revenues. Maybe our government should concentrate on not killing off free enterprise so that parents may better support their kids. If Big Brother wants to do something further… well, what about a voucher program for poor families?
If, beyond that, certain perverse and depraved religious communions wish to bestow their god-brute’s blessing on debauches of counter-conformity, concupiscence, and narcissism, then I suppose we must let them burn their dark fires as long as they don’t torture pets or violate minors. That these vain exhibitionists of “open-mindedness” call themselves Christians in many cases no longer surprises me. I have renounced one congregation after another since the seventies, when “ministers of the Lord” began circulating reefers at communion and revealing that the only real immortality is the progressive state’s (fed by the sacrifices of zealous comrade-citizens). The Gay Marriage issue appears destined to become yet another line in the sand that separates devotees of spiritual idealism from materialists who would make a god of their own arrogant social experiments. The word “Christian” isn’t copyrighted. Make-believe servants of Christ can slap its bumper-sticker on any piece of junk that carries their cultural plunder.
What we really must insist on, however, is that true Christianity be allowed to refuse the sacrament of marriage to gay couples. Those of us who actually believe in the life of the spirit rather than a sedentary, self-coddling, fat-phallused idol should not be threatened with fines and jail time when our churches decline to pervert a system of values dearer to us than life on this earth.
In proof of the hypocrisy of our persecutors, one need look no further than the kid-glove treatment awarded to Islam, a faith whose holy book reviles homosexuality even more vehemently than the Bible. The rancor unleashed by subversive info-tainment media and by pseudo-intellectual poseurs at Christian opponents of gay marriage would never reach a hundredth of its typical intensity if directed at Muslim critics.
Why, I wonder, do sincere Christians and reflective, sensible Muslims not unite on this and other issues of common decency? Many Western Muslims know that aspiring to slaughter innocent women and children in order to enjoy eternal orgasms with eternally restored virgins is more blasphemous at all levels—far more—than it is downright idiotic. They have no sympathy for terrorist punks. In the same way, you and I know that lubricious “pastors” dribbling words of “love” as their fingers crawl up skirts during intimate counseling sessions no more represent our faith than a dog in an alley. Both sides know that some on the other side are closer to God than some who claim to be on their own side.
Why can good Christians not make common cause with good Muslims for the sake of mapping out a safe zone for decency? Besides gay marriage, we are both opposed to lewd public displays (of the Spring Break variety recently raging in Galveston), to vulgar Hollywood entertainments, to the war on motherhood, and to the state’s assault on religious expression in public places like schools and courthouses. We call the one God by different names, but our understanding of what He expects of us in day-to-day living shows considerable overlap.
Is it laughably naïve of me to think that something like an Alliance of Christians and Muslims for Decency might ever exist? Such an organization would certainly outflank the degenerate forces on the airwaves and in academe that are driving our social and moral meltdown. Just imagine the kind of racial slurs and cultural snobbery into which our “diversity champions” would be lured if they couldn’t hold their tongues! I for one would cheerfully donate a great deal of labor to see the wolves thus flushed out of the sheep pens.