There goes Howard Dean once again showing how inept and foolish he is pontificating on matters about which he has no expertise – which are many. The latest was on the campaign trail where he opined that since, in his assessment, homosexuality is a congenital feature, then God, who created man, must necessarily accept homosexual union as a concomitant to a condition He created.
The fact is that while God created us all, He laid down rules of conduct, one of which in Leviticus condemns homosexuality and later in Deuteronomy categorizes marriage as that between man and woman only.
To Dean and many others, God’s Will is detached from His pronouncements in Scripture. Scripture is irrelevant when it does not conform to the Feel-Goodism fount from which most liberal theology is today derived. Dean’s approach, though, is consistent. His uninformed declaration as to God’s Will absent any acknowledgement of what God actually said is similar to his dead-sure pronouncements about Saddam Hussein not being a real threat, or George Bush’s ability to have stopped 9/11, absent any information from real, authoritative documents.
Curiously, while those on the religious right are condemned when citing Scripture or God’s Will in opposition to gay marriage, the religious left’s reference to a groovy God supportive of all things sexual is taken as uplifting, noble. Indeed, recently, Hillary Clinton, attempting to portray those against homosexual marriage as religious extremists, declared that the upcoming 2004 election would be a referendum on the issue of gay marriage. Both John Kerry and Wesley Clark have also weighed-in in favor of unions. Unlike the Army position of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the General wasn’t asked and did tell.
Rodham/Clinton and other Democrats are convinced that by branding Republicans opposed to gay marriage as “religious extremists,” the dark cloud of “extremism” will hover over Republican candidates, resulting in voters afraid and wary of the candidates’ extremism extending beyond gay marriage into other areas of civic life. In other words, the goal of the religious extremism smear is intended not so much to carry the day for gay marriage as it is as a disqualifier, as a device to brand Republicans as those against any separation of church and state or, due to religion, intolerant.
While there is no wiggle room for those opposed to such marriages, the position can be explained in such a way that does not give credence to the image that Hillary Clinton and colleagues wish to confer on those opposed to gay marriage. It is done by justifying the position not on the religious, biblical description of homosexuality as an abomination but on the classic, universal definition of marriage, one held until today even among secularists, namely: marriage is the honored union of man and woman only. Our argument is definitional not theological. It is organic.
This understanding of marriage is intuitive, so much so that long-winded explanations and philosophic retorts are unnecessary and counter-productive. A simple but firm definition of what constitutes marriage will ring innately true to those who hear it. People need not be convinced or persuaded by that which they already believe. They do, however, need to be strengthened by having what they believe affirmed and declared by others.
By limiting the rationale to definition only – a baseball is not a football, purple is not green – arguments based on emotion or goodwill become irrelevant. A definition is objective, not subjective. Legal definitions are neutral, they can’t change simply because we will them to. The question is divorced from the fashionable categories of tolerance, fairness, choice, quality relationships.
So as not to be pigeonholed, the understandable urge to describe homosexuality as an abomination, or unnatural, should during public debate be discarded, for such rationales imply a desire to prohibit such conduct even privately, outside marriage – a stance most Americans will not support given their general belief that personal conduct between consenting adults is a private, non-governmental matter.
Marriage is, however, a public matter, has always and remains today a category requiring state and community sanction. While we don’t record private sexual conduct, we do record at City Hall marriages. As one of society’s legal cornerstones, such as contracts, marriage has from time immemorial – everywhere and in religious and pagan cultures –demanded definition. Its definition, its reality, was long ago established in Western civilization as being a committed union between male and female, publicly acknowledged.
Even in pagan but classic ancient Greece where love between men (and boys) was extolled as better and more pure than that between man and woman, marriage was acclaimed and consummative between men and women only. That which between men was characterized as sex, between man and woman constituted consummation.
Furthermore, were there for some reason to be no homosexual activity between two men in a given relationship, marriage between them would still be an impossibility given that by definition two members of the same gender, even if their relationship is platonic, cannot partner under the historic rubric and understanding of marriage. Thus it is not so much a condemnation of the sexual activity as it is fealty to a legal definition; a category already subsumed within the collective unconscious.
In fact, in Deuteronomy 24:1 when speaking of marriage, Scripture states, “When a man shall take a woman for a wife…”, clearly articulating that such partnership is between man and woman only, though the chapter in which this statement is made is not one dealing with homosexuality nor is reference made to procreation.
For the religious believer, the argument against partnership per se should not be construed as a cop-out given that Scripture itself makes such a point and in today’s world being religious often means simply upholding age-old standards. Furthermore, agnostics can feel comfortable when a position is based not on religion but honest definition. The same applies to those who, while not overtly religious, value the concept of enduring traditions.
Unlike in Europe, most Americans are connected to the notion of traditional values when not overladen by too much religious theology. Unanchored liberals may equalize every conceivable lifestyle, blue-collar Democrats will not.
As demonstrated every time a new social issue arises, liberals will again accuse conservatives of being the political step-children of those who seventy years ago were intolerant of Blacks. Let not our endless desire for atonement on the black/white issue or our need to be hailed as tolerant coerce us to accept new definitions of marriage. While the previous situation may have involved bigotry, opposition to gay marriage is not rooted in bigotry, rather intellectual honesty.
The “slippery slope” argument that gay marriage will lead to even worse scenarios not only weakens the case but also displays a failure to grasp how gay marriage is in itself an unacceptable final frontier, a breaking point. Those such as Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark who say they oppose gay marriage yet support civil unions are skirting the issue and playing both sides. Essentially, they are giving their tacit approval while simply covering themselves. But the deleterious effect of gay marriage on society makes it an issue that should not be finessed by the finessers.