The current cause célèbre du jour of gay marriage will become yet another item on a long and accumulating list of permanent acrimonies separating the theistic and conservative factions from the secularist and progressive.
“Twenty years from now will they flush with the shame that most surviving segregationists now feel when they reflect on their actions and thoughts in the 1950s and 60s?
Every rights movement goes through the final spasms of a rearguard action of those foolish enough to think they still wear the breastplate of righteousness. As they are sucked into the undertow of changing public opinion they squeal about freedom of expression and conscience. What they so bitterly resent is that as the tide of mainstream opinion pulls away from them they find themselves stranded with opinions completely lacking in any legitimate moral or intellectual justification.”
(John Moore, “Mike Huckabee promotes chicken with a side order of bigotry”, National Post, July 31, 2012)
But contrary to the naive fantasy of the secularist liberal, this common refrain that the gay cause will trace that spearheaded by the black civil rights movement, will prove silly. My older sister and I fought the elder generation over the black civil rights issue; in particular the willingness for us to intermarry. The arguments about being unequally yoked, we soon found to be a knavish ruse when we looked at the verse in full context. A reason, why Martin Luther King championed in “Christian” America, was because Scriptures, as well as the Constitution, was on his side.
The same cannot be said for gay rights. Scriptures, clearly and thoroughly, denigrates same-sex relations amongst other sexual deviations. A considerable contortionist effort at distorting Scriptures and dissembling original Greek and Hebrew text is required in order to try to make it say what it doesn’t say. The history of the Christian Church, until very recent, stands incontrovertibly and steadfastly against same-sex relations. For, a revolution from such attitudes to occur amongst the orthodox, it would require an existential collapse of the Faith. The gay issue has become a line in the sand between he/she who is a Christian or social conservative, from one who is not. According to the first chapter of Romans, the prevalence of homosexual relations in a society becomes that final barrier of moral and societal decay, after which all hell breaks loose.
Like the abortion issue, it is likely that public opinion polls will continue to rise in support of gay marriage for a few years yet until a plateau is formed. The issue shall continue to split churches as it has for decades. At that future point, with a fuller and more honest exposure to gay culture; with a more intelligible response by Christianity to the issue, its public support shall probably abate a shade. As with almost everything else in this mendacious and nasty age; gay culture is its own worse enemy; its enemies, its best friend. And in the end, gay marriage will become yet another finger and toe manifestation of an ideological war which to date, remains largely cold. Of course, this prognosis depends on religion or irreligion not experiencing a complete collapse in vitality and numbers.
But here is the rub. By allowing judiciaries in particular, civic leaders and democratic majorities to arrogate any definition of an organic social reality, which has more psychological import than material, upon the whole community, it produces an unnecessary set of losers. Which ever definition prevails, whether “marriage is the union between one man and one woman” or opposing variations; one faction faces serious economic, social, and possibly legal, disadvantage and depredation, when they publicly uphold and advertize their beliefs, consciences and interests. A person, in this day, who publicly shows disfavor on interracial marriages, will likely bear a material and social consequence.
LGBT, secularist and liberal factions might find such a future reality palatable to their tastes, in the foolish confidence of a triumphalist secularist future; as delusional as those who think we are still a Christian nation. We cannot divine the future and history has produced some starkly extreme cultural shifts. Respective LGBT or social conservative boycotts of businesses that hold a particular or even a neutral political stand could theoretically lead to a society of two solitudes, as each corporate actor must decide which faction butters their bread the more. Those who insist on a public declaration of viewpoint will not only further alienate the members of the other faction but those who yet uphold freedom of belief, conscience, expression, assembly and conduct as a primary value. The danger inherent in state definitions of matters which pose no immediate existential threat to the society, is that it is in imposing a definition that poses a threat to the cohesion of that society; poses an existential threat to the society
In light of Europeans studies “Divorce-Risk Patterns in Same-Sex Marriages in Norway and Sweden” (Andersson et al 2004), which states “If we only compare levels in union dissolution, divorce risks are considerably higher in same-sex than in opposite-sex marriages. The divorce risk in female partnerships is practically double that of the risk in partnerships of men”, the social conservative position is not that irrational. One cannot quickly discard such studies when they involve comprehensive government statistics in a sociopolitical milieu that is exceedingly liberal and tolerant. And the argument that “registered partnerships”, which are not labeled marriages, should make substantive differences in the stability of those relationships should challenge the credulity of even the credulous. Notwithstanding these empirical artifacts, there exists neither New Testament sanction nor political wisdom in compelling a particular conduct or lifestyle, at the risk of social fragmentation and conflagration.
The current culture war, that in varying degrees infects all Western nations, does not substantively differ from the dynamics of religious sectarianism; even if the content differs. We have simply upgraded from the minutiae of theological controversy to broad sweeps of philosophical sectarianism. And the warnings of the American Founding Fathers (James Madison in the Federalist Paper #10 and Washington’s Farewell Address) concerning factions (party) have become as apt as at any other time since their expression.
The fault lies in the ceding of regulatory oversight of marriage to the civic authorities in the 16th century, which was advocated by Martin Luther and John Calvin in response to the Catholic ‘seizure’ of the institution in the Council of Florence (1438-45) and Trent (1545-64). Prior to that, marriage had been largely a private affair, without mandate of civil or ecclesiastical sanction. And if one studies the history of the travesties imposed by both state and church since those changes in its communal governance, it would justify a return of the Estate of Marriage to private contract / covenant, scrupulously enforced by civic courts in this day, when one’s word is no longer one’s bond. The civil discord over a matter not immediately fundamental to the welfare of the state and society adds to this argument. In this way, the gay community can have their marriages without having to bear societal and legal pressure to conform on others whose consciences profoundly disagree.
However, the prudence this proposal may not have yet become apparent; may not yet had its day.