I Love You, Let’s Get Married

[Apparently WordPress thought it would be funny if my entire post disappeared.  Let me try again:]

I wonder occasionally why fairly traditional, seemingly conservative, pious Christians often do not oppose attempts to redefine marriage as a union between two people, regardless of whether they have complementary genitalia.  Sometimes, even if they do oppose homosexual unions, they do it out of a sort of gut-check learned or nurtured revulsion to the idea of homosexual intercourse.  I can’t help being nervous around this type of hyper-hetero fratboy reaction, because most people (at least publicly) grow out of it.  It is too superficial to grown into something reasonable.  But beyond immaturity (which makes an easy target for homosexual activists), why is it so easy to convince people that they hold nothing more than an archaic bigotry, even if it is a principled, Scriptural position?

It is harder and harder even to have a discussion about this.  Partly because certain people have decided that it is simply not up for discussion; partly because you obviously do not have “discussions” with the ignorant, or the deluded, or the irremediably prejudiced.  They are clearly something less than fully human.  Idiots.  Shut up and sit down.  Next item on the agenda.  (Witness the internet masses as they shred any person who would dare to stumble–humpbacked and knuckle-dragging, natch–into something so vile as a chicken sandwich restaurant.)

But the deeper problem is, as usual, not people “out there,” but us.  The fact is, we (Christians) do not oppose homosexual unions because, deep down, we simply cannot come up with any good reasons to do so.  This is tied intimately to our answer to the question, “Why did/will you get married?”  If it is a variation of “because we love each other,” congratulations, you just made homosexual marriage a thing.  Because if you got married because you love each other, and homosexuals just want to get married because they love each other, then who are you to deny them the exact thing that you are now enjoying?  Don’t homosexuals love each other just as much as heterosexuals?  If so, and if marriage is all about love, then you have no defensible argument.  Could it be any clearer that we are simply trying to hang on to an anachronism, which is translated “unequal,” “unfair,” and “backwards”?

Obviously, I mean “love” here in the Hollywood/Bacherlor(ette)/pop song sense.  The sense in which lust and love are interchangeable.  The sense in which my feelings for the other person determine how I act toward them.  This, it should be apparent, is nothing even close to the Scriptural sense of love, which is literally unconditional; now, later, always.  I have a priest friend who, when he is conducting premarital counseling, asks the man and woman what they would do if the other were unfaithful.  If they say divorce, he says he won’t marry them because they are putting conditions on their love and on the sacrament of marriage.  The fact that such a question will strike most of us as absurd only shows how far we have fallen below the Scriptural description of love (i.e., God’s love for you in Christ).  Divorce and homosexual marriage (along with the contraceptive mentality that carves a firm boundary between sex and children) are fundamentally related because they all focus on love (read: “my current feelings toward another person”) as constitutive of human relationships, especially sexual ones.

This is why, I think, calmly reasoned, clearly argued, principled cases against homosexual unions seem to have no effect, except as ammunition for those who are already convinced: because popular culture and politics is ruled by love as a private, uncontrollable force between some people (two is no longer anything like even a default number).  If you love each other, who can tell you otherwise?  You love who you love.  You can’t legislate love.  Etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.  No matter how many constitutional amendments are passed, the emotional war was lost a long time ago.  (The activists know that reason and logic do not stand a chance against painful, tear-filled accounts of people who have been bullied or otherwise sinned against because of their “love.”)

So: Until the divorce rate among Christians is much lower than among unbelievers; until Christians marry for reasons beyond feelings and genitalia; until Christians realize that love is a decision that determines how you will act toward another person, rather than a set of feelings that change depending upon circumstance, we can expect to lose every single battle over the definition of marriage.  Because who wants to or can argue in favor of “inequality”?




6 thoughts on “I Love You, Let’s Get Married

  1. We are steeped in the popular cultural ideologies of the day since childhood, primarily through our public education. When we spend 5 days a week in public school and half a day a week in church school it’s sometimes hard to balance the disparate ideologies. Satan traps us into equivocating these ideologies in the most destructive ways. Hence why should Christians worry about how non-Christians view and practice marriage? Hmmm… popular culture teaches this is none of our business as long as we stick to our own practices and leave everyone else alone, and not “judge” people’s actions simply because they are different from us.

    See what happens? Culture has figured out how to make Christians feel guilty for “judging” others differently from themselves. Yet non-Christians can judge us differently with no guilt whatsoever.

    An insidiously deceitful way to guilt us into thinking we are the ones who are wrong.

  2. Like Lawrence, I wonder if the answer to your opening question might not be “because we are better Americans that we are Christians.” As Americans we kind of take the First Amendment as our polar star. That Amendment says that gov’t can’t make a “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” As Americans, we love this Amendment more than anything else in our important documents. This is what places us above the rest of the world. This is our pride.

    For the sake of argument this amendment may be a nice idea, but is it possible? Doesn’t our gov’t get to decide what a religion is, and what is lawful for that religion (and in so doing place itself above religion)? And didn’t the Civil War kind of settle the idea that we could back out of this gov’t? With a combination like that, we have a gov’t that gets to decide what religion is, and tells you that you cannot leave the gov’t by any other means than physically removing yourself from the premises and revoking citizenship. So if you want to be a religious American, you have to obey what the gov’t says, even about religion. And there’s the rub. Throw on top the cultural attitudes, and the pressure becomes greater.

    But at the core, this is going to be an argument about authority. We’ve all been taught that there is no disagreement between Christianity and Americanism, probably from both sides (state schools and church), so when push comes to shove, we have a hard time sorting out the authority issue. Can’t we follow both? So what if the gov’t gets to decide what marriage is? It’s not forcing us to marry people (yet). Surely we can all get along.

    It is very biblical that the desserts we are about to receive are exactly the ones we ordered. Our favorite things — equality, freedom of/from religion, money, strong gov’t, etc — are the very things that will bring us down. Our pride must be laid low.

  3. I would only add that “equality” only applies when the two things being discussed are actually equal. Apples and oranges are two fruit that are sort of round and grow on trees, but those similarities do not make them “equal” in any generally understood sense.

    • Yes; this is part of my point (perhaps not as clear as it could have been), that the only way this can be argued from a sense of fairness or equality is by changing the definition of marriage beforehand to something about “love.” If marriage is about anything more than my feelings, or my commitment, or my happiness, then a homosexual relationship and a marriage are two completely different, incomparable things.

  4. Love is a choice . . .a choice of caring for the other more than yourself, therefor if the Church teaches that a homosexual act is a mortal sin than offering that sin to the other is anything but love. A marriage is two people, each helping the other towards heaven.

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