Liberal Certainties and Uncertainties about God, Man, and Marriage
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM)'s March for Marriage took place on March 26, 2013, from Washington, D.C.'s National Mall to the United States Supreme Court and back. While the arguments for preserving the natural institution marriage as existing between one man and one woman are sound, the arguments of "same-sex marriage" (SSM) proponents displayed by counter-protestors at the march demonstrated a bewildering incoherence. Defenders of marriage should note and expose such illogic for the sake of avoiding its consequences and preserving a vital social institution.
As opposed to an estimated 5,000 march participants, some 200 SSM advocates gathered on the sidewalk before the Supreme Court, the scene of just beginning judicial arguments over the constitutionality of various marriage laws. Not wearing any identifying insignia, I stepped away from the march and mingled among my political opponents. Many of them carried placards from United for Marriage, an organization "supportive of the fundamental right for EVERYONE to marry the person they love," stating that "Marriage is Love, Commitment, Family." Asked what position these general principles entailed with respect to the debate over SSM, a few SSM proponents seemed hesitant to answer before finally declaring for "all" couples. These counter-protestors also seemed hesitant to discuss just what sort of families could result from inherently sterile homosexual relationships.
My wanderings finally brought me to a pair helping to hold a rainbow-colored banner emblazoned with "God is still speaking," the "identity and marketing campaign" of the United Church of Christ (UCC) begun in 2004. The man and woman holding the banner identified themselves as UCC members. They preferred, though, to remain anonymous for any subsequent story, with the woman citing "hate mail" concerns.
The UCC slogan prompted me to ask what God was saying and whether it remained the same. The man responded that "God's message is contemporary with the times we live [in]." Asked whether therefore God's message goes with the "Zeitgeist" or spirit of the times, the man responded that the "Zeitgeist is changing" with respect to SSM. While "God is love," this love's "expression changes."
Discerning this changing love, though, required in the woman's view a "hard" process of remaining "in connection with God." "Outrageous bigotry" such as slavery, for example, was once "common sense." This process required that a person "stay true to your integrity" but also simultaneously "bear uncertainty." "God is a whole lot more complicated, a whole lot more subtle than any of us on Earth." "Without uncertainty," she said, "you will have no spiritual growth," for "self-righteousness" separates one from God.
Yet my female interlocutor was not without certainty. She was, for example, "certain about" homosexuality being innate, even though numerous scientific questions continue to surround this issue. Mention of SSM paving the way for recognition of various multiparty sexual and/or living arrangements such as polygamy, meanwhile, brought the response that such arrangements "can't be a healthy thing" and that "polygamous marriage is not a good thing." Such multiparty arrangements offer no "relationship of integrity," and modern "fundamentalist" Mormons who practice polygamy mentioned by me were in her view, not surprisingly and without logic, "nuts."
Discussion of multiparty relationships turned my mind to bisexuality. This topic had arisen the previous day during the Heritage Foundation panel "Marriage: What's at Stake" when panelist Doug Mainwaring discussed the "B" in the now common acronym LGBT, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered. For Mainwaring, bisexuality suggested a "lot of fluidity" with respect to sexual orientation as opposed to various homosexual claims of orientation immutability.
As has occurred to me in the past, I asked my conversation partner about the propriety of any actualized bisexuality entailing for a person at least two sexual partners, one male, the other female. The issue seemed to disturb her, prompting the reflexive remark "not at the same time," to which I immediately responded, without receiving an answer, "Why not?" After all, what is the difference between multiple sexual partners experienced serially and simultaneously?
Mainwaring himself the previous day had discussed how he had been married with children before his marriage ended and he decided that he was homosexual. After his wife suffered a medical emergency, Mainwaring helped cover her medical expenses and invited her to live with him so that he could take care of her. Now Mainwaring has discovered in the past years that he enjoys living with his wife and children once again. He does not know whether to call her his wife or ex-wife.
My description of Mainwaring's experience and of his apparent bisexuality prompted the response from the UCC woman that Mainwaring had had a "confused and difficult life," apparently not upholding her ideal that a person be "honest to yourself." This condemnation of Mainwaring, who apparently contrasted with her understanding of other LGBT individuals as not having confused and/or difficult lives, was not comprehensible to other March for Marriage participants. Encountered at the march, for example, my friend Mark Tooley of the orthodox Christian Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) described my conversation partner's conveyed views on the either/or nature of sexual orientation as expressing "gay fundamentalism" and "sexual Calvinism."
Mainwaring himself was behind the march's speakers' stage on the Mall before his address. After having supported SSM in the past, Mainwaring has come to oppose this effort to "un-define marriage" and to "un-define children" in same-sex households as presenting a "giant gaping hole" of a missing natural parent and gender role model, as he discussed at the Heritage Foundation. After my introduction and relaying of the comments from before the Supreme Court, Mainwaring declared that he had a "great life" and "couldn't be happier," despite insinuations from homosexuals of being a "self-loathing homosexual." Mainwaring found my interlocutor's views to be an expression of one homosexual "dogma" and "Gospel truth" among many -- namely, that a person could transition from heterosexuality to homosexuality, but not vice-versa.
Review of my Capitol Hill conversation presents a potpourri of theological, philosophical, and practical errors. Christian orthodoxy, of course, contains none of the UCC members' divine relativism, such that Christians should follow an ever-changing spirit of the age as opposed to an unchanging Holy Spirit. This third person of the triune God lives in eternal harmonious love with the Son Jesus Christ, who (Hebrews 13:8) "is the same yesterday and today and forever." Matthew 19:4-6 recounts this Jesus quoting Genesis 1:27's description of humanity made by God as "male and female" and Genesis 2:24's statement that a "man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." The Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy (13:1-4), meanwhile, warns against following prophets who "follow other gods" even if they foretell a "wonder," but rather demands that God's people "hold fast to him."
In contrast to my conversationalist's desire for spiritual uncertainty, 1 Corinthians 14:8 warns against a trumpet giving an "uncertain sound." Nor are various aspects of God and His natural laws so subtle or complicated as to be beyond right reason, as Romans 1 indicates. Indeed, precisely moral reasoning played a leading role in ending slavery and segregation. The same right reason, though, shows that homosexuality and SSM are neither "healthy" nor "good" things for a number of reasons, as the Family Research Council (FRC) has copiously documented.
My conversation partner's horrified rejection of multiparty relationships such as polygamy and her associated demand for a clear sexual choice among bisexuals illustrate the illogic of sexual revolutionaries insisting upon enduring societal restraints. Polygamy in particular is a millennia-old cross-cultural human practice still extant, in contrast to the utter novelty of SSM. Indeed, it is a good question what my fellow discussant would think of recent calls in Germany to legalize incest in the wake of homosexual legal victories there. As Robert P. George, Sherif Gerges, and Ryan T. Anderson, among Mainwaring's fellow Heritage Foundation panelists, have made manifestly clear, SSM's disjunction of marriage from its natural relationship to childrearing will effectively redefine marriage out of existence amidst a plethora of equally valid lifestyle alternatives.
Despite her rejection of "self-righteousness," my interlocutor indicated once again that intellectual falsity and fanaticism often go together among SSM supporters. Along with her dismissal of Mainwaring as "confused," she invoked the ever-present analogy of the homosexual movement with past racial struggles, something also invoked at the March 14, 2013 "A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet" panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). There the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)'s Fred L. Smith spoke of how he "grew up in the South," while GOProud's Jimmy LaSalvia referred to the bygone "Dixiecrats." Yet many African-Americans themselves do not welcome this analogy, as speakers at the march indicated.
In truth, behind such vain visions as modern civil rights heroes, SSM proponents have merely superficial solipsism, as indicated at the March for Marriage. Against such superficiality, defenders of marriage's integrity can and must win.