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Rationality and the Gay Marriage Question

Think Christianly: Rationality and the Gay Marriage Question

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rationality and the Gay Marriage Question

Hunter Baker, author of the helpful book The End of Secularism, has written a thoughtful post on this issue. Here are the basic contours of his argument and then you can read the rest at his blog.

"Thinking in terms of what is rational and what is not, I would like to set forth what I think should be considered a rational account of why marriage should remain a male-female arrangement.  My own view might be different in important ways from this one, but I am trying to present something that is non-religious in nature and which I think should be capable of being accepted as rational by any person.  Note:  “rational” does not mean that it convinces you.  It merely means that you could see the argument as a position a person could hold without being, basically, crazy.

So, here is one rational account of why marriage should be confined to opposite sex couples.  As you read, keep in mind that you need only find the account rational (i.e. not crazy) rather than truly persuasive.

Men and women are obviously complementary in nature.  This is not a matter of holy writ.  Without the man and the woman, it is not possible to produce children.  Without the ability to produce children, the political community has no future whatsoever.  It will die out like the Shakers, who chose celibacy.  This interest in the future is clearly a political interest since the political community emerges from families.  Families form villages.  Villages form towns.  Towns grow into cities.  And so on.  Male-female marriage is the basis of the political community.  For that reason, it is obviously rational for the political community to take an interest in affirming, sustaining, and protecting male-female marriage.   
Same-sex pairings are not procreative.  The answer will come back that many heterosexual marriages are not procreative.  That is true, but the marriage is still rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and the complementary sex act.  The man and woman share an intimate relationship based on the way their bodies are made to fit together.  You could say God made this design.  You could say it emerged from evolution.  Regardless, it is clear that the male sex organ and the female sex organ work in harmony in a way that the male sex organ and a non-sexual male organ do not.  This biological fact is the reason for the long existence of marriage between men and women.  Marriage would not exist without it.   
Homosexuality was once considered a disorder.  Looking back on those who thought so, can we say with great confidence that their conclusion was invidious or irrational?  Or was it to some degree a reasonable position to take considering that the desire to engage in sexual stimulation (not intercourse as that is impossible) with members of the same sex is highly atypical for human beings and, biologically speaking, does not make sense?  And there is little question of that.  Biologically speaking, the act of a man attempting to have sex with a man or a woman having sex with a woman makes no sense at all.
There are a number of atypical behaviors to which some human beings appear to be predisposed.  We do not need to make a list, but I am sure we can agree that such behaviors exist.  Our reaction to these atypical behaviors is mostly to accept without having to positively affirm.   
Given these realities, it is not surprising at all that the history of marriage has been the history of men and women marrying each other.  Marriage is a direct consequence of the biological complementarity of the sexes.  While we should not positively inhibit same-sex pairings, we should not give those pairings the same status as male-female marriage.

Based on what has been written above, is it clearly irrational for the government to favor the traditional and biologically sensible form of marriage?  One might characterize these remarks as insensitive or unpleasant or out of fashion, but would it be fair to say that they are irrational?  One may easily disagree, but would you regard these remarks in the class of comments claiming the moon is made of green cheese?  Could you not easily say, “I disagree with what this person has said, but it is a rational  reason to oppose gay marriage.  If I have a vote on the matter, I will cast my vote against this position.”  To do THAT, to cast a vote in favor of gay marriage, is a fundamentally different exercise than to do what courts have done by simply ruling that the person or institution opposing gay marriage is irrational...." (read the rest at his blog)

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