This is a semi-response to this post, but it’s more of a general response to the overall issue, at least in regards to my limited social experiences in relation to it.
I normally wouldn’t blog about this sort of thing, not least of all because not very many people are interested in reading it (it falls in the religion and politics arena, where emotions run high and people often flee for the sake of their sanity), but the growing social dichotomy of this issue (especially with the growing Hollywood trend of romanticizing it in film and TV shows) has been rather relentless lately, and I often get annoyed with both sides of discussion (if such a tepid term for implying disagreement can be allowed) for not framing the issue properly, or for beginning their arguments on completely polar premises and then not understanding why things fail to progress from there. As can be guessed from the title of this post, I speak of same-sex marriage.
From the point of view of one who supports same-sex marriage, perhaps even one who wants to partake in it or knows someone who does, it is Civil Rights issue, marriage being the right. One who denies them the right is at best morally naive or misguided, at worst an evil prejudiced bigot. (And if I do not represent this point of view properly, feel free to let me know in a civil manner.)
From the point of view of one who does not support same-sex marriage, it’s not truly even a question of “support.” It’s a question of meaning, and not merely a semantic meaning (how marriage is defined in words), but spiritual religious meaning. That is, marriage is believed to be a spiritual union before God for the purposes of procreation and family-raising. (For more detail on the religious definition, one can look it up elsewhere on the Internet; a complete religious definition is not the point of this post, but I’m surprised not many people seem to consider it when discussing this issue, as if it’s irrelevant.) It’s not a right just as being a man or a woman is not a right (the difference between a man and a woman is not something created by men for the convienence of something like bathroom sorting; it’s a biological matter-of-fact; it’s just the way it is no matter what we may feel about it). That is, a man does not have the right to be a woman by only the simple act of wanting so (the extent of what operations can change another matter). Understanding that is not like saying: “I don’t support the right for a man to be a woman.” Understanding marriage as a right granted or denied by men in office buildings doesn’t make any sense in the first place, from this view.
It’s odd, because supporters of same-sex marriage still recognize marriage as being special in some sense, otherwise why desire it at all? But why is it special? Certainly not for the same reasons. Perhaps for completely state-given reasons, such as tax benefits? It certainly cannot mean the same thing spiritually, yet it is the wholesomeness of the spiritual meaning that the tax benefits are meant to encourage. If same-sex marriage was objectively morally OK, why would those seeking it want legal confirmation, beyond seeing their religious beliefs reflected and supported by man-made law (which everyone wants)? If morals exist on a level above human authority (making them objective), why seek only something that can only be granted by other humans? If same-sex marriage was objectively morally OK, the state shouldn’t get a say in it anyway; it could just be done. They might not be legally recognized and might not get tax benefits and such, but why should that be more important than the objective moral truth? If men do not have the right to grant or deny marriage rights to others, why desire that sort of right at all? It would be like a child saying to an adult: “You don’t get to choose whether or not to give me a cookie… now give me a cookie!” If the child truly believed it wasn’t up to the parent, he should just get the cookie himself. Or like a child claiming that he doesn’t need permission to go outside, but asking for it anyway, or asking for permission to no longer need permission.
If it is religious equality that people seek, they will never get it, no matter what the man-made law justifies. Again, it’s not a matter of bigotry or intolerance; there is just no such thing as religious equality in the sense of specific beliefs; if you believe something to be true, you cannot logically also believe an opposing belief to be true. A man cannot logically conclude that something is both true and untrue at the same time. (The word “belief” does not imply uncertainty.)
Then, and this is what bothers me the most, there are a growing number of middle-grounders, who ignore the issue completely, perhaps out of fear of being hated by their friends or celebrities they admire who do feel strongly one way or the other, or perhaps out of not wanting to think of it much out of fear of being wrong or just plain laziness or plain indifference.
Or they see a marriage granted by the state as already being too separate of a thing from religious marriage that it simply no longer matters to them what state-granted marriage allows. (Self-marriage might as well be allowed; if procreation and family-raising are not essential parts of marriage, why is a second person even required at all?) They disagree that the state-governed laws of marriage should be guided by religious doctrine, and they don’t think that’s worth defending, even though other disagreements are worth defending, such as abortion and capital punishment. But would they deny that what is objectively morally right no matter what one thinks of it is above man-made law? Man-made law should ideally be exactly the same, but allowing for religious disagreements (as all such disagreements are inherently religious, even if being argued by atheists) and the practicality of law enforcement (no Big Brother, no mind reading, no perfect human justice), they are, at best, compromises. But are they to be denied attention for that reason? (Does legality affect objective morality? Does objective morality affect legality?)
And perhaps therein lies the problem that gives rise to this dichotomy: the idea of civil marriage not being a lawful extension of religious marriage but as being an entirely separate social construct, when it is considered not about growing closer to God and procreation and family-raising, but about pairing up for the fun of it, to feel special about oneself, to get tax benefits, to be seen by others as someone who is loved by someone else in a particularly special way, etc., which has only advanced a misunderstanding of (or at least rather strong disagreements about) its purpose. (Not to imply that such disagreements are new.)
My main point is: unless people understand and approach the argument in a religious context (even if the issue at hand deals with the secular laws), arguments on the issue will either be nonsensical, or simply won’t get anywhere. (Yes, one must start with the premise that God exists. Marriage is certainly ultimately completely meaningless without the existence of an objective moral right and wrong that exists beyond the human mind.)
That said, same-sex marriage is not a sin in and of itself, just as a man not being a man is not a sin; it doesn’t make enough sense for it to be a sin or not a sin. (Not to say it may or may not be associated with sinful acts, that is another matter; but to simply say it is or isn’t sinful doesn’t make much sense.) Nor is it a matter of tolerance or intolerance. A man is not restricted from being something other than a man because of other people’s intolerance. We do not say 2+2=4 because we are intolerant of 2+2=5. When we put murderers in prison, it is not out of intolerance or bigotry.
And justifying seeing the other side as all bigots (though some certainly exist, as evidenced by the existence of hate crimes) will only make things worse. I know people can get very emotional when people disagree with them, especially about a political-religious issue like this, but disagreements don’t imply prejudice or hate or bigotry. Seeing it that way will only cloud any hope for honest discussions. But maybe that’s not what people want anyway.