I’ve been told by more than a few people who support “gay marriage” that my take on it is somewhat unique. Given that I am virulently opposed to “gay marriage”, this is no small victory. It may be my absolute lack of fear when it comes to self-criticism (which may spill over into self-loathing if I am not careful), my willingness to unload heaps of criticism on those with whom I agree (lovingly of course), and/or my high level of intolerance for self-congratulatory nonsense that is responsible. I don’t really know. But I will tell you what I think about “gay marriage”, a phrase I will never utter or write sans-scare quotes, and you can decide.
First and foremost, I’ll acknowledge that a lot of criticism of “gay marriage” just misses the mark. Just the other day I witnessed a college-age conservative Catholic attempting to argue to a mob of atheists, some gay, some straight, that homosexuality was not a valid expression of human love. Woven in were concepts from modern Catholic teaching on the theology of the body and things of this nature. Setting aside the validity of such arguments, I have to say that attempting to argue that what someone experiences as “love” is not really love is going to be a pretty tough sell. I can’t imagine it working at all, especially coming from a stranger. Arguments that homosexuality will naturally lead to the acceptance of pedophilia or bestiality don’t tend to go over well either.
Arguments that homosexual acts violate the natural law, are intrinsically disordered, etc., more “traditional” arguments shall we say, also miss the mark. Of course I believe they are true and I would employ them all against self-identified Catholics or even other self-identified Christians who were attempting to defend “gay marriage.” In these arguments the authority of the Church, or at least Tradition, or at least small-t tradition, or at least Scripture, ought to suffice. Even if you don’t persuade, you can’t lose either.
But much of the time, those of us who are opposed to “gay marriage” are arguing with people who are secular, people who in an earlier time would have rightly been regarded as pagans of some variety. They may or may not be militant atheists, but in such debates their secularism will become more evident, militant and hostile. The only way to hold your ground is to enter into secular territory and beat them at their own game. It isn’t as hard as it sounds.
So what are my primary arguments against “gay marriage”? My first is a disarming tactic: we must acknowledge that “gay marriage” is not so much a cause of social decay as it is a symptom. It is the devaluation of marriage and family ties, especially through divorce, contraception and abortion, that creates an environment in which a demand for “gay marriage” can arise. The ease with which people can enter into and out of marriages or maintain childless unions are the chief culprits here. What emerges is a conception of marriage as a romantic union for the purpose of finding self-fulfillment in another person. The primary and secondary reasons for marriage, producing and educating offspring, are shoved way into the background. Why not, when the state can support single-parenthood and working parentage with social programs and public schools?
In any case, when marriage becomes a means to self-fulfillment first, it can only be expected that people who identify as gay will feel a bit short-changed. The less meaningful and purposeful marriage becomes, the more arbitrary it appears to deny it to certain groups. So opposition to “gay marriage” cannot possibly be meaningful itself unless it is accompanied by strident opposition to divorce, contraception and abortion – not to mention fornication, adultery, the porn epidemic, voluntary single-parenthood, voluntary sterilization, and similar problems. As a strategic aside: convincing the Protestants in our lives and communities that the Church’s positions on divorce and contraception are the truly Christian positions would be an excellent place to start. Without holding in contempt all of the serious threats to marriage and family, contempt for one of them will simply ring hollow.
Secondly, we must oppose “gay marriage” because it threatens the future of human civilization, and this is as much a “secular” concern as it is a religious concern. Granted it is one threat among many, and not even the worst one at the moment. I would say the porn epidemic is an even greater problem, since more straight men are addicted to porn than there are gay men in the entire population. In either case, the spread of a self-centered conception of sexual gratification, be it through heterosexual fornication, homosexual acts, or pornography/masturbation is like a corrosive acid eating away at the foundations of civilization.
We can see this harm expressed in the collapsed birth rates of the developed world, including Western Europe, the United States, Japan, the “commonwealth” countries, and Eastern Europe as well due to the legacy of anti-family Communism. Even those who would point to the prospect of gay couples adopting children (which is a terrible idea, by the way) can’t argue with the fact that such unions cannot produce new life. They can do absolutely nothing to restore the birth rate to replacement levels. They even harm such prospects in that the children they adopt are statistically more likely to develop homosexual orientations. To legalize and celebrate the homosexual lifestyle in the midst of a demographic crisis such as the one faced by the developed countries is an act of sociocide.
Who will pay the taxes for the massive social welfare programs that most of these secular advocates also support? Who will support these childless people in their old age? Europe’s answer was to allow millions of people from poor, undemocratic, and culturally-backward countries to flood into their own to do the work, purchase the goods and pay the taxes that the children they never had couldn’t perform, buy or pay. So in addition to its demographic crisis, Europe faces a horrific culture war of its own, between a sleepy secularism and militant Islam. The United States has a similar problem with its southern border, with a growing and still unappreciated Mexican separatist/nationalist movement threatening to Balkanize the Southwest. And in both cases, waves of immigrants end up putting more of a strain on an already strained system instead of reinforcing it. The legitimization of homosexual relationships is far from the most serious cause of such problems, but it is still one of the more disturbing manifestations of a culture that has lost its will to survive.
Third, of what moral and philosophical significance are the radical egalitarian presumptions behind “gay rights”? Like feminism before it, and socialism before that, the “gay rights” movement is rooted in an idea has been severed from its Christian roots and therefore its rational limitations.
The concept of “equality” has no foundation in nature. Dominance and domination are facts of life. This has also been the case throughout most of human history. Christianity introduced humanity to exactly the greatest amount of egalitarianism it could possibly handle without self-imploding. But the same religion that is responsible for legitimizing any sort of notion of egalitarianism to begin with also put some rather severe limits on it. Equal dignity in the eyes of God was never meant to translate into the abolition of distinct social roles or their division into a hierarchy in which some command and others obey, as Scripture clearly attests. There may not be any slave or free, man or woman, Greek or Jew in Christ – but in the fallen world, servants are to obey their masters, wives their husbands, and society is to guided by the Church.
To sum it up: if you take God out of the picture, nature destroys all egalitarian notions and aspirations. At this point your faith must be placed entirely in the proposition that the advance of technology will overrule nature before nature overrules your egalitarian aspirations. Return God to the picture, and there is absolutely no justification for “gay marriage” whatsoever, as homosexuality is condemned in Scripture and is a violation of the natural law recognized by the Church.
Finally, I express to those I discuss “gay marriage” with that this is not about some kind of radical intolerance. I have libertarian leanings politically; with St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, I believe certain vices can and should be tolerated socially to a certain extent, for the sake of the greater good. I really don’t care what people do behind closed doors or in a brothel on the edge of town, far away from neighborhoods where children go to school and families go to church. But I will not label what is morally evil good; I will not grant it “equal rights” with what is good; and I will maintain that in this case, as in a few others, the good of society overrides the desires of the individual.