Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Gay marriage' -- what's really behind it

If you haven't heard, two more states -- Iowa and Vermont -- have this month legalized same-gender matrimony. And unlike the last few years, it hasn't caused much of a stir among Christians (at least from what I've seen). Which is probably a good thing.

I say this not because I support "gay marriage" (I certainly don't) but because perhaps we need to rethink the whole marriage enterprise.

The problem, since the last few hundred years, is the way marriage is conducted in Western culture. How are partners chosen? Really, primarily based on physical attraction in the hope that the inside matches the outside; even in evangelical churches, where we should know better, we routinely engage in what I refer to as "spiritualized lust." This being the case, it was only a matter of time before persons similarly attracted to the same gender demanded the same rights. You may notice that even the way the issue is framed focuses on the sexual -- "gay marriage," as if marriage is primarily about sex.

When people "fall in love," they put on blinders as to the faults of the partner, as though pure, overwhelming passion is the only thing that matters. And while I know from personal experience even as a single man just how intoxicating romance can be, at some point it does wear off. With such a poor foundation you either have to find ways to continue to "pump it up" -- which can lead to affairs and/or pornography -- or else split with the partner because "the magic is gone." (That's one reason why divorce is so prevalent even in the church.) Such same-gender relationships by definition fit into this category.

Moreover, David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, who describes himself as a "liberal Democrat," considers same-gender matrimony a bad idea -- but for a surprisingly different reason than normally argued. In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, he mentioned that he had spent a year studying marriage and wrote in response, "Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children." Blankenhorn believes that "For healthy development, what a child needs more than anything else is the mother and father who together made the child, who love the child and love each other."

For that reason, marriage in Eastern culture even today is never left to the persons involved -- they are arranged, usually by parents, to strengthen families and communities. And romantic love has little or nothing to do with it. (And those unions last.)

I know what you're thinking: Doesn't the Bible strictly forbid homosexual marriage? Not really -- just homosexual conduct, as marriage between "one man and one woman" is considered propositional truth that doesn't require defending. And that's fine with me.

I've heard some apologists for same-gender marriage say "Can people help whom they love?" That's not the point, because, as I said earlier, that kind of "love" is often blind. I'd like to be married someday and I will probably do so in the traditional way, but I will make that decision not so much on how she makes me feel but on issues of character and maturity. If enough people did that, "gay marriage" will be exposed as the oxymoron that it is.

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