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Gay 'Marriage'

Stay out of other people's bedrooms, okay?

by Barnabas
June 25, 2003

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Gay 'Marriage'_Barnabas-Stay out of other people's bedrooms, okay?
“There is an evolution of society," Chretien said. He said the law would give religious denominations the right to decide which marriages should be sanctified.
—The Washington Post, June 17.

But the child that's born on the Sabbath day
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

—Nursery rhyme (late medieval? Certainly pre-1960)

mar·riage (mãr-ĭj) noun 1. a. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
b. Wedlock. (Microsoft Bookshelf Dictionary, 2000)
Back when Canada decriminalized homosexual behavior, Prime Minister Trudeau said that he wanted to get the government out of the nation’s bedrooms. Now the current prime minister wants it back in.

For decades I have been a quiet advocate of allowing homosexuals and other unmarried people who want to establish a household to be given whatever breaks and rights accrue to married people. What they consensually do or do not do with each other in their own homes — except for acts that would be criminal in any setting — is God’s business and theirs. Trudeau was right, with this extension: it is no more the business of the government to give permission than it is to withhold it.

This advocacy puts me, in their minds, far to the left of those who want civil law to condemn both the tendency and practice of homosexuality. At least one of their arguments, propounded recently by Chuck Colson, has no support in either scripture or common sense: that procreation is the reason for marriage. If such a definition were supported by law, post-menopausal women as well as homosexuals would have no legal right to marry. Marriage is an enabler of procreation in that it adds covenantal stability to a sexual relationship, but marriage has always existed whether there is procreation or not.

I am not only far to the left of my conservative friends. I am also far to the right of my homosexual friends and those who advocate homosexual “marriage.” Several years ago I was moderating the meeting of a professional association that wanted to make a statement on sexual ethics. A member offered an amendment that contained the term “heterosexual marriage.” I ruled it out of order on the grounds that it was tautological. By definition marriage is heterosexual; putting the words together imply that there is a marriage that is not “heterosexual.”

Despite what the government of Canada is saying, there never was such a marriage. There never will be. Such “marriages” are legal fictions.

Jean Chretien, the prime minister of Canada, may see an evolution of society in redefining same-sex relationships as marriage, but some of us see a devolution of language. We lost the word “gay” thirty-five years ago; the old nursery rhyme about “a child born on the Sabbath day” became a risque joke. I doubt that its author meant “Is fair and wise and good and homosexual,” but that’s what leaps to the mind of a modern child.

Marriage is a covenanted relationship between male and female which, according to the Hebrew scriptures, began in the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t devised by any parliament. While a sexual relationship between two males or two females may be emotionally and physically satisfying to them, and they may be certain that it is better for them — even “spiritual” as they define it — it is obviously not the same as the relationship between a male and female.

So these persons are not getting married. They are establishing a household. Under law their household should have the same legal protections as a household established by a married couple; marriage as such should not be a legal advantage. I am all for such protections, not only for homosexuals, but also for households established by chaste bachelor brothers, spinster sisters, or “just friends.” So make whatever laws you need to. Just stay out of the bedroom while you’re doing it.

Comments (3)

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S.E. Shepherd from Chicago, IL writes:
June 30, 2003
I think Barnabas has written one of the best arguements against homosexual marriages. Like Barnabas, I have no problems with giving same sex couples all the legal tax breaks social benefits, etc., of married couples. They can even have some sort of legally binding ceremony if they want. But marriage is by definition a union between a man and a woman, and there is no relationship quite like it. The term married can only refer to this type of relationship.

Barnabas from TPO writes:
June 30, 2003
Thanks to S. E.Shepherd for the good word. When I saw there was a letter, I feared that I was going to get clobbered from one side or the other, and appreciated hearing agreement that it's not a matter of taking sides, but of clarity in terms.

Augie Ecklund from Champaign, IL writes:
July 1, 2003
I had the pleasure of meeting Barnabas the other day and we briefly discussed this topic. However, I feel that I did not adequately state my argument against his assumptions, so I will try to do so now.

First, I agree with him that government has no right to give or withhold permission for any type of relationship between consenting adults. Whom individuals chose to love and what they do with consenting lovers is between them and God. Government should be left out entirely.

Where I disagree with Barnabas is his use of language and the dictionary to define marriage. Barnabas says that using the word marriage to describe same sex unions is devolution of language. However, language is always evolving. Educated people now commonly accept words that people a century ago considered vulgar. This evolution is not necessarily good or bad. As long as a language is in use, it will continue to change to suit the culture of the people that speak it. A language will stop changing only after it becomes a dead language.

I have been married for two years and to me marriage is much more than a covenanted relationship between my wife (a woman) and I (a man). Marriage is a romantic ideal that is ingrained in the culture I grew up in. All of us, regardless of our religion (or lack thereof) and sexuality, hear about the virtues of getting married beginning at a very young age. Every man and woman older than 23 constantly fields the same question over and over, “when are you settling down and getting married?” We learn that marriage is the chance to announce to your god, family, friends and anyone who will listen that you are committing yourself to one person for the rest of your life. It means the search for someone to share your life with is over and you no longer have to worry about being lonely. Even the reality of marriage does not change our concept of the ideal - people that have previously failed at marriage will enter a new one believing that this time will be different.

The ideal influences us all whether we hope to marry or consciously reject it. If you do not use the word marriage to describe this romantic ideal for same sex partners, what word do you use? “Union” or “establishing a household” does not carry the same weight.

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