Written By: Jackson Thomas
How many times can a person hear the phrase “One man, one woman,” before their head explodes? This one idea, espoused thousands of ways by millions of people, seems to be the catch-all for the anti-gay marriage movement. People usually use one of three ideas to support the theory that not everyone is created equal.
1.) The Bible says so.
Fair enough. I’m not here to argue for or against religion; wiser men than me have tried and failed at that. I would, however, like to discuss the Bible story of Sodom and Gomorrah, used so often by the individuals on the anti-gay rights side of things to prove their point. It is written the cities were destroyed to punish the general wickedness of the residents. Some say this is evidence God is against same-sex marriage.
How can the first part of a tale of two cities from the Old Testament be used as a building block for the notion that equality is a sin when the second part is so rarely mentioned? Everyone knows Lot’s wife was turned to salt, but it’s like people get to that point and stop. Here’s the rest of the story: After his wife was turned to salt, Lot went to a cabin in the woods. While he was in this cabin, his two virgin daughters got him drunk. Then, on successive nights, these two daughters each had sex with him so they could carry on his seed. (19th Book of Genesis, verses 30-36)
Let’s throw out a hypothetical; say a story leaked tomorrow that a man had impregnated his two daughters. When asked to comment on the morality of this, the man cited the verses above and offered nothing further. Stop and think about this for a minute, then ask: Would anyone listen to this man? Would his arguments be viewed as sound simply because he cited The Bible as his argument? Of course not; that would be ridiculous, right?
Religious codes contain the imprint of the eras in which they were defined by men. Is ours to be an era defined by inequality in God’s name? Is this how we’re to be remembered in history: fearful and oppressive? Hateful and hypocritical? It’s less a question of religion, anyway (in a faith-based sense), and more a moral issue: Why does any man or woman get to control what others do? and What gives anyone the right?
Seriously, who do you think you are to tell someone in love that they can not get married? I ask you to stop for one moment and imagine your perfect mate. Imagine their hair and their eyes and the way they look when the light hits them just right. Imagine how they make you feel and how you can’t imagine being with anyone else, ever. Now imagine being told you can’t marry them because …
Wait, does it even matter why? All that would matter was you couldn’t get married, right? Really try to put yourself in that position and imagine you were not allowed to marry the person you want. How would you react? How would you feel? If marriage is such a cherished and elusive gift, then why do so many take it for granted? This brings me to my next point.
2.) The sanctity of marriage.
In a recent debate on the campus of Notre Dame, Maggie Gallagher, one of the co-authors of “Debating Same Sex Marriage,” discussed the idea that a mother and father need to be present in order to raise happy, well-adjusted children.
“These are the unions we count on to make new life,” Gallagher said. “In every way we know how to measure, children are at risk if their parents don’t get and stay married.”
This is an argument which makes sense in a Utopian society. Seriously, if we lived within the pages of The Giver this would be relevant. Sadly we live in reality, whatever that means. One reality we’re sure of, though, is there will always be people giving birth to children outside of wedlock. The institution of marriage is irrelevant when it comes to creating life, as life will always find a way.
So, what’s all of this about preserving the sanctity of it? Is the sanctity of marriage upheld when someone goes to Las Vegas and gets married during a drunken stupor? What about the inevitable aftermath when they file for divorce, chalking it all up to a bad night? Sanctity gets tossed into the trash with the souvenirs no one really wanted from the ceremony. The idea of being with the same person for a lifetime is the goal of any marriage, but what I know from personal experience is this rarely happens.
(My father’s parents were married, then divorced. My parents were married, then divorced. My fiancé’s parents divorced when she was young. Many of my friends’ parents are divorced. I hear the sentence “This is my step-father/mother” more often that the alternative.)
A person doesn’t have to be homosexual to damage a child’s psyche or negatively impact their view of marriage as an institution. They just have to be a human. So why, then, do people assume that gays getting married would somehow contribute to the downfall of anything? I find it difficult to believe the sanctity of marriage is taken lightly by the homosexual community and I doubt their children will grow up with some warped view of the world.
Allowing homosexuals to marry might, in fact, provide the institution with stronger values. Imagine a child seeing his or her parents standing up and fighting for what they believe in. They would see that marriage is something to fight for, not throw away casually. How is that possibly a negative thing? Honestly, what would gay marriage do to the sanctity of marriage that hasn’t already been done?
Oh, that’s right. It would change things. We hate when that happens because….
3.) We so love tradition.
Tradition is something we should look to, certainly, but which traditions are important and which are trivial? Who decides? In ancient Sumerian tradition saying the phrase “I divorce you,” thrice granted you a divorce. Try this now, with our legal system, and see how far it gets you. Labeled a bigamist, you will be, when the wives you marry number three. This tradition would help destroy the sanctity of marriage.
What about other traditions, though? What about slavery? That’s been a tradition since the beginning of recorded history. I think we all agree that slavery is unacceptable, unless we’re isolationist-extremists (and if we are, there is no way we got this far into this article). So what about the people in this country who actually, you know, had to deal with slavery? What about those born of a wretched time who managed to rise up through oppression to secure rights for their children and grandchildren? Sadly, some of them fail to see the significance of the current situation. Or worse, they deny it altogether by hiding behind the classic, “it’s a choice” statement.
I believe it can be a choice, for some, but I disagree with the idea that it’s always a choice; this is based on personal experience. My father wasn’t around, so I was raised by a single mother who taught music and classic English literature. She loved four things: Broadway, Billy Joel, Elton John and teaching me all the lyrics. When I wasn’t with her I was with my Catholic grandmother or my homosexual uncle. Or the other kids on my street, all of whom were girls. I didn’t have a real male friend until I was 20…this was the world I existed in. If there is an environment that would “turn someone gay,” that would probably be it. Yet here I am, not a homosexual. GASP…AM I SPECIAL? Is it some sort of a miracle? Am I the exception to the rule?
What I am is a man who sees a group of people who want nothing more than equal rights. On the flip side of that coin, I see hateful, ignorant and shameful individuals refusing to allow something they don’t approve of or try to understand. I see people who, for some reason, can’t abide the idea of “Live and let live.” I see people using this plight to further their political cause and I want to vomit. I see adults acting like children in the name of the children and rallying against things, all because they don’t understand and don’t care to try. I see all this and wonder, how far down a hypocritical path a person can travel before realizing the freedoms they deny others are no different than those they enjoy?