Friday, November 6, 2009

The humble embrace of traditional marriage

The recent election has again brought to the fore the issue of same-sex “marriage.” In Maine voters struck down the state’s gay marriage law which had been recently enacted by their elected representatives. In a referendum vote, 53% of Mainers decided to repeal the law and leave traditional marriage intact…for now. Obviously this is good news in a state as left-leaning as Maine tends to be. But of course the fight is not over. As the push for “gay rights” continues on many fronts, we must remain vigilant knowing that the culture is saturated with the homosexual agenda and a disdain for traditional values and institutions.

After the election I discussed the Maine vote with a few liberals who live in that state. They expressed dismay that the people of Maine voted down what they saw as a step toward equal rights and freedom for all. Among the many arguments these liberals presented in favor of gay marriage two ideas stuck out in my mind as most deserving of closer examination here on this blog. I address those two ideas below…

1) A person’s sexuality is not that big a deal. Why should it matter that a person is homosexual?
I cannot adequately express in words my baffled amazement at this comment. If sexuality is not a “big deal” then why are homosexuals so adamant about claiming the status of marriage? After all, marriage is society’s way of holding up human sexuality as a BIG DEAL! If being gay (or being straight) is no big deal, then why should we have an institution such as marriage that recognizes sexual relationships…gay or straight? Why not do away with marriage all together?
Any way you look at it, our sexuality IS a big deal! It shapes our interpersonal relationships; it affects our emotional and psychological dispositions; it influences how we act in society and how others treat us. Sexuality (our sexual identity) touches so many facets of our lives that it is probably one of THE BIGGEST DEALS in shaping our outlook on life and our overall personality. Just tell a gay person (who undergoes a sometimes agonizing process of self-identification) that their sexuality is “no big deal.” Tell a person who is experiencing confusion in their sexual identification that it’s “no big deal” and they should just get over it.
I don’t think this is a valid argument to be used by the pro-gay-rights movement. Not only is it flat out wrong, it also hurts their cause by belittling the role of sexuality in our lives and thus undermining the importance they place on the cause itself. In other words they are shooting themselves in the foot.

2) The people who oppose gay marriage think they are better than everyone else. They push their ideas on the rest of society and don’t leave room for other opinions.
Now these are really two separate issues, but the way it was presented to me in conversation the two ideas are linked in the mind of the liberal gay-rights activist.
Let’s look at each claim separately and then see why it is wrong to equate the two...

The first claim is that the advocates of traditional marriage think that they are “better” than everyone else. This implies that we traditionalists are “self righteous” or “holier than thou” (to use some of the exact terms that were thrown at me). This brings up the question of “goodness” in the sense of personal sinfulness. So the liberals I spoke with believe that traditionalists support male-female marriage because we are the sinless God-fearers and we reject same-sex marriage because those on the other side are the evil enemies of God.
But the fact is I am a sinner and so are all the other supporters of traditional marriage. We know that we are sinners and that is precisely why we hold up traditional values and traditional institutions because they help us to be better people. We certainly do not live up to the ideals of our Christian faith, but then Christ came to save sinners and anyone who claims Christ as their Savior must first admit that he is a sinner and in need of salvation. I do not see myself as “better” than a gay person…I see us both as sinner who need God’s help in overcoming our sinfulness.
The second point used in this example is that traditionalists push their ideas on society without leaving room for other opinions. The fact is that marriage is not MY idea. Marriage is (and has been for millennia) a universally recognized institution that fosters male-female sexual expression directed toward procreation and the building of families. Marriage has always been society’s way of recognizing a particular sexual relationship as important for transmitting values and bringing up the next generation of citizens. In short, marriage is the fundamental building-block of society.
How can we say that traditionalists push their idea on the rest of society, when in fact marriage has been received by all of us from society since time immemorial? Traditional marriage was not invented one day by a group of religious fundamentalists in order to oppress gays or force a certain theology on the community at large. Marriage predates Christianity. Marriage between man and woman is older than Biblical texts, older than religion, and extends back into pre-history.
Traditionalists are not sinless, perfect, holier-than-thou religious freaks who want to force a rigid definition onto society. To be honest, traditionalists see marriage as something bigger than anything we in our imperfect state can tamper with. We know that we are imperfect sinful creatures, and that marriage has been handed to us from the history of humanity and we have no authority to change it or alter it in any way. It is those who do advocate a redefinition of marriage who must bear the burden of proof. What makes them so self-righteous and arrogant to believe that they have a “better” way of defining marriage?
So we can conclude with the following: Human sexuality is indeed an important facet of our being. It is a VERY “big deal.” It is such a big deal that cultures around the world, across the religious spectrum and all throughout human history have recognized the sexual relationship between man and woman as deserving of its own institution which we call marriage. Those who support traditional marriage between a man and a woman do so, not because we are arrogant or self-righteous, and certainly not because we think we are “better” than anyone else. We do so because we humbly accept what has been handed down to us from God or the “wisdom of the ages” or whatever you prefer to call the source of this venerable institution.
Those who support re-defining marriage must learn to accept the importance of human sexuality, not as some personal choice, but as a part of our human nature that touches the lives of others and affects the whole community. To try to change marriage into something that fits our personal desires and that flies in the face of every civilization, religion, and culture we have ever known is the very definition of self-righteous arrogance.

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