Most people believe that the principal objections, or even the only objections, to the drive to legalize homosexual “marriage” spring from religious faith. But that is simply not true. Beginning with this post I’ll offer ten objections that have nothing to do with any religion at all, except insofar as the great religions of the world happen to reflect the nature of mankind. These objections spring from three sources. The first is a commonsense observation of man — his needs, his shortcomings, and his aspirations. The second is a consideration of history: our own recent history, and the history of those who once committed the mistakes we are committing now. The last is logic, that relentlessly honest instrument of thought. The objections are such as should make everyone in our world uncomfortable, both those who call themselves conservative and are busy destroying the heritage of western civilization, and those who call themselves liberal and are busy curtailing and denying every freedom but that of the zipper.
1. The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.
Forty years ago, we were advised by popular singers that we needed to open our hearts to love, meaning a free and easy practice of sexual intercourse, without what were called “hangups”. Modesty was decried as prudishness, and chastity ridiculed as either impossible or hypocritical. Experimentation abounded: the so-called “open marriages,” public intercourse, intercourse under the influence of psychedelic drugs. A few of the experiments fizzled out for a time, though they are now resurging, as witness the sewer of websites devoted to “swingers.” The #### explosion shows no sign of abating, having been given its second life by the internet. In what they discuss and the salaciousness of their photos, the magazines that women buy at grocery store checkout lines are as salacious as anything put out by Hugh Hefner in the 1950’s.
Is there any honest observer of our situation, or any political partisan so intransigent, who dares to argue that the results have not been disastrous? We were told that the legalization of abortion would lead, paradoxically, to fewer abortions, and fewer instances of child abuse. Instead it led to far more abortions than even the opponents ever imagined, and it so cheapened infant life that child abuse spiked sharply upward. It has remained so high that no one is surprised to hear, on local television, an account a child chained to his bed and allowed to starve in his own filth, or a baby bludgeoned to death by a boyfriend, with the mother as accomplice.
We were told that the legalization of contraceptive drugs would lead to fewer unwanted children — certainly to fewer children born out of wedlock. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the human race should have known otherwise. Whatever one may believe about contraception, one must admit the historical fact: by reducing the perceived risk of pregnancy almost to zero, contraception removed from the young woman the most powerful natural weapon in her arsenal against male sexual aggression. She no longer had any pressing reason not to concede to the boyfriend’s wishes. So she agreed; and we now have one of three children born out of wedlock. 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, and why they live together, and why others they call their father or mother or brothers or sisters do not?
Some people reckon up the losses from this revolution in terms of 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.
2. It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.
It is hard for us to imagine, in a world of mass entertainment and its consequent homogenization of peoples, how central an event the marriage is in every culture. It marks the most joyful celebration of a people, who see their own renewal in the vows made by the young man and the young woman. For although marriage focuses upon the couple (and it is interesting to remember that even our word focus is a marriage word, denoting in Latin the hearth), it does so because the couple embody a rejuvenation in which everyone, young and old, male and female, take part.
In his Epithalamion, the English Renaissance poet Edmund Spenser summons everyone to the solemn celebration of his wedding — and after the priest has “knit the knot that ever shall remain,” and the revelers have splashed themselves and the groom’s walls with wine, and the girls have danced and the boys have run shouting up and down the street, and the bonfires have blazed and the hours of celebration have been hastened along in glee, he bids everyone to leave him and his bride alone. They enjoy each other’s love, and pray that from their “timely seed” they may raise a large posterity. Here we have an understanding of marriage infinitely deeper than the meager thing we are now left with. Of course it is personal and private: and it is public, and universal, even cosmic. It bridges two chasms that must be bridged, lest the culture, that is the cultivation of all that a people most dearly cherish, wither away, and the people separate one from another, into a suspicious world of privacy. One chasm is that which divides the generations. At the true wedding, the elders know that the future belongs to the couple, who in their love that night, or on a night soon to come, will in turn raise up yet another generation. Sexual intercourse is, as a brute biological fact, the act by which we renew mankind. We celebrate the wedding because it betokens our survival, our hope for those to come after us.
But we could not have children without the bridge thrown over the more dangerous divide, that which separates two groups of human beings who seldom understand one another, whose bodies and psyches are so markedly different; who try to love one another, and so often fail, yet who try again for all that. I mean men and women. The wedding is a symbol of the union of differences: the generations, certainly, and separate families, but most strikingly, man and woman. The very word sex derives from Latin sexus, denoting that which separates; it is cognate with a whole host of words for severance, such as (in English) schism, scissors, sect, shed. It is a mark of our degeneracy that the ugly term “having sex” has come to mean the marital act, with the once delicate term “making love” similarly demoted. What man and woman do in the marriage bed is not “have” sex; the sex, that is the separation, they are provided with already. What they do is to unite, across the separation. And unless man and woman unite — and, given their differences, it always amazes me that they can — the culture cannot survive. The women will split away to protect their persons and their relatively few children; the unattached males will pass the dull hours in destruction.