Russell and Duenes

The Natural Law Case Against Gay “Marriage”

with 10 comments

There are many ways to approach the homosexual “marriage” issue. As with any issue, my basis for knowing and understanding how to think, feel and act – my epistemology – flows from the Bible. So when the Bible unequivocally condemns something, as it does any kind of homosexual activity, and when the Bible clearly tells us the nature and purpose of something, as it does with marriage, then I trust that God has spoken on the matter and I build all my thinking and acting from there. But I do believe Christians should make a good amount of room for common sense “natural law” arguments, and there are many such arguments to be made against the legalization of homosexual marriage.

I live in California, and in the 2008 run-up to the vote on Proposition 8 out here – the proposition that declared homosexual marriage to be against California’s state constitution – there were intimations from Christians to the effect that banning gay marriage would unnecessarily alienate homosexuals whom we are trying to love and bring to Christ. Thus, the church should largely stay out of it, love gays by sharing the redemptive love of Jesus, and not worry about whether gay marriage is legalized. I could not disagree more with this line of thinking, but the argument above tends to run along the lines of, “Yes, the Bible condemns homosexual practice but says nothing about whether gay marriage should be sanctioned by the state.” To which I say: yes and no. If one means that the Bible has no text that speaks directly to the state issues, then yes. But if one means that the Bible has nothing to say about state-sanctioned “gay marriage,” then no. The Bible commands wisdom, and wisdom dictates against advocating or acceding to the legalization of homosexual “marriage.” In setting forth this wisdom, Touchstone editor, Anthony Esolen, has written what is, in my view, far and away the best ten arguments against legalizing gay marriage that I have ever read. It should be required reading at all seminaries and for all evangelical pastors and elders. All fathers who truly care about their sons should read it as well. As I digested it, I felt sadness and conviction. Sadness because I teach high schoolers and I know a bit of the sexual angst they experience. I know the misery that further erosion of biblical practices for sexuality will bring to their lives. Conviction because the honor of Christ is at stake, and the force of truth is compelling. Esolen’s case is not based upon biblical texts, but no one could ever convince me that it is not entirely consistent with the biblical text. All truth is God’s truth.

Esolen’s Introduction and the outline of his argument are below.

Most people believe that the principal objections, or even the only objections, to the drive to legalize homosexual “marriage” spring from religious faith.  But that is simply not true.  Beginning with this post I’ll offer ten objections that have nothing to do with any religion at all, except insofar as the great religions of the world happen to reflect the nature of mankind.  These objections spring from three sources.  The first is a commonsense observation of man — his needs, his shortcomings, and his aspirations.  The second is a consideration of history: our own recent history, and the history of those who once committed the mistakes we are committing now. The last is logic, that relentlessly honest instrument of thought.  The objections are such as should make everyone in our world uncomfortable, both those who call themselves conservative and are busy destroying the heritage of western civilization, and those who call themselves liberal and are busy curtailing and denying every freedom but that of the zipper.

We should oppose the legalization of gay “marriage” because…

1. The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.

2. It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.

3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.

4. It makes a mockery of chastity.

5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.

6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.

7. It seals us in a culture of divorce.

8. It normalizes an abnormal behavior.

9. In one crucial respect the social acceptance of homosexuality makes matters worse, not better, for the homosexual himself.

10. It spells disaster for children.

You can find Esolen’s entire article here.



Written by Michael Duenes

July 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Nice try.
    You don’t have to be gay to see why it is time to end discrimination.
    *You have no proof for any of your ten statements. I am not a Christian but I am convinced that if God was real he would not be on the side of bigotry and discrimination.


    July 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    • Not sure there’s much that can be said in response to this. Suffice it to say that Dr. Esolen laid out very lengthy defenses of each of his ten points. If you would like to read them and properly refute them, then we can probably have something to say that is of value. Otherwise, I’ll assume you did not take him seriously enough to read and understand what he argued. Further, I checked out your site and saw that you no longer believe the Bible. So my question for you would be: How is it that you now understand the terms “bigotry” and “discrimination?” According to you, God is not real, so tell me how, in a godless universe, there can even be such a thing as “discrimination?” If there is no God, then there is no reason for us being here; we are simply accidents of evolution, bound to mutate and be devoured. Your desire to hold onto notions like “bigotry” and “discrimination” while jettisoning the Bible are quaint and sentimental, but really have no meaning in a meaningless universe. The universe doesn’t care about you or anyone else if there is no God. There’s no such thing as “human rights” or even “right and wrong” in such a universe. Think on that a bit.



      July 16, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  2. I’m not going into that again, you can read the comments on my blog about how you can have a moral code and a conscience and still not believe in God. I will say this, we all know what we would not like to have done to us. Murder, thievery, rape and other smaller grievances can be determined on the basis of human suffering. For example, I have heard many of you use the slippery slope fallacy that allowing gay people to get married would lead to things like bestiality, child molestation, and incest. The reason that it would not is because we could never condone actions that would violate the rights of another. Children and animals could never have the autonomy to give consent. Incest results in damaged offspring and destroys the family dynamic because we all need to feel like there is at least one place that we can feel safe. I am an atheist, and I feel very content to spend my time trying to make the world better for other people. This good will is not because I am an atheist but being one certainly doesn’t stand in the way of my conscience or my ability to empathize with other people.


    July 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    • Moriahbethany – I’ve no doubt you can have a moral code and a conscience without believing in God. What you will lack is any basis for having one. If God doesn’t exist, then not only is murder not wrong – there can be no such thing as true moral wrong in a godless universe – but murder is positively necessary in order to move the evolutionary process along. You need to reckon with the fact that if God isn’t there, there will be no ultimate judgment upon anyone. If God isn’t there, Adolf Hitler never suffered any kind of judgment for the things he did. Rather, he simply passed out of existence and turned to fertilizer. Oh, and the guy who right this minute is having no pangs of conscience over the young girls that he is abducting, raping, and then using as sex slaves, he won’t face judgment either. It’s all just matter in motion. The universe doesn’t care, and the universe certainly doesn’t confer “rights” upon people. If I go along with your line of thinking, why in the world would I ever trouble myself to do anything about others who are suffering in this world? Since I’m living a nice life here in America, why would I care about those who are starving in Africa? If I do decide to care about them, that will increase my suffering. Of course, I DO think I should care, but that’s because God has made it clear that I should. But in your atheistic universe, why should I add to my suffering by even thinking about them?

      You’ve obviously not seriously considered Dr. Esolen’s points, seeing as you don’t interact with any of them. So at this point, there’s not much further to say about the matter.



      July 16, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  3. I should start off by saying I don’t think the state has a role in marriage at all, hetero- or homosexual. That being said, these arguments are terrible. I’ll address them in turn.

    1. The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.
    – Not quite sure what this means. Recognition of a contract between two individuals doesn’t even necessitate they have sex. The law is strictly concerned with their legal privileges, not sexual habits.

    2. It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.
    – If there is nothing else that should be relegated to the matters solely of the individual, I should think it the chemical processes carried on in one’s own body and instigated by one’s own mind.

    3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.
    – This one is as hazy as #1. Suffice to say that if the law has any effects on social norms, it is only because society (individuals) so lets it. Christians, if anyone, can especially attest that norms are perfectly capable of developing without even under persecution of by the state.

    4. It makes a mockery of chastity.
    – If chastity is defined as refraining from intercourse before marriage (as the Oxford dictionary claims), then wouldn’t it result in more chastity since more marriage is happening.

    5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.

    6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.
    – False. I have plenty of logical grounds to oppose skydiving, frequent alcohol consumption, the use of pharmaceutical painkillers, the eating of candy and lots of other practices that are completely legal and even promoted.

    7. It seals us in a culture of divorce.
    – Again, if the law’s recognition changes society’s norms, it is only because society let it. It is perfectly possible for norms to exist in spite of what the state does.

    8. It normalizes an abnormal behavior.
    – Problem solved, it’s no longer abnormal. (Now, whoever is doing this defining as abnormal or normal, whether it be your interpretation of some ancient text or the whims of a governing elite is a huge question we are left with.)

    9. In one crucial respect the social acceptance of homosexuality makes matters worse, not better, for the homosexual himself.
    – Legalizing something does not make it acceptable. See number 6.

    10. It spells disaster for children.
    – Who’s defining this “disaster”. I think an even worse disaster has been conservative church’s opposition to birth control, resulting in millions of babies being killed or, perhaps worse, being born without caring parents.

    Again none of these critiques are really my own positions, but the fact the logical refutations of these points could be done in just sentences says something about their intellectual merit.

    Joshua House

    July 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    • Josh – We would have something to talk about if you had actually read Esolen’s arguments and not just the outline I provided. Since your responses make it evident that you didn’t, I don’t have anything to say in response. I appreciate your readership and comments, but it really would help the matter if you read and tried to digest the detail that Esolen’s points provide.



      July 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      • Haha, I thought that might be the case. For brevity, I gambled and assumed you just copied an outline she provided.

        Joshua House

        July 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  4. The basis for having a moral code is human empathy, they are now discovering that people who lack that actually lack the physiological base for empathy in their brains. It isn’t God telling you to treat others well, it’s you. You speak as if the unfairness of Hitler not being punished for his life has anything to do with it. You have attributed your own idea of what it means not to believe in God without any evidence. You don’t know me, you don’t know my desires. I know enough to know that I am not so special that there are not other non religious people who share my desire to make the world a better place. I am capable of that without threat of punishment from hell or reward from heaven…because I don’t believe in either. You are the one with the problem if it takes fear in order for you to have a moral code, and if it takes someone telling you what to do in order to know right from wrong. That’s like saying “My parents didn’t tell me not to kill, rape, and steal so how should I know that it’s wrong”?
    You should know that it is wrong because you do not want those things done to you. The Bible eliminates logic by causing someone to follow a rule without thinking about why they follow it. Religion has caused suicide bombers to kill infidels, grown men to rape children, priests to tell people living in AIDS stricken Africa not to wear condoms, and otherwise nice people to post articles on the internet with the intention of making other people feel bad. How do you not have that little voice inside of you telling you that these things are wrong? Aside from all of these unproven bullshit reasons you posted (yes I read them) what makes you think that being gay is wrong, other than that the Bible says so? My personal experiences with people who are gay is that they are no different than other couples. Two of my good friends have been together for 10 years and are monogamous, happy, and in love.
    I am just flat out tired of being judged, I am tired of Christians repeatedly implying that I am not a Christian anymore because I didn’t want to follow the rules anymore. That was not the case, and you are wrong to say that we are not capable or morality without God. All you have done is tell me how little faith you have in yourself.


    July 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    • Moriahbethany – I’m sure you are a nice person, and I think that were I talking to you in person, it would be a very enjoyable conversation. I mean that sincerely. I have not said anything judgmental toward you, nor have I claimed to know anything about the reasons why you are an atheist. All I have tried to do is ask that you take the logical consequences of your atheism seriously. The atheist, John Lennon, said, “Imagine there’s no heaven…no hell below us, above us, only sky.” So I try to imagine it. I try to imagine that it’s true. I try to imagine that you and I are just a composition of chemicals, reacting certain ways at certain temperatures because that’s what chemicals do. With respect to homosexuality, I try to imagine a universe where there is no God, and thus, no sexual behavior of any kind is either morally right or wrong. It’s all just stuff that happens, like bacteria devouring other bacteria is just stuff that happens. Given atheisms, homosexuals are just one set of nerve endings who happen to do what they do under certain genetic and chemical combinations, and other sets of nerve endings do something else. It doesn’t much matter. In fact, I try to imagine a universe where nothing ultimately matters because all there is is matter. Time and chance and death simply happen to everything and that’s it. That’s what atheism means. That’s all I’m trying to say.

      As for whether I am the kind of Christian you imagine me to be, well, I’d only repeat back to you what you’ve said to me; namely, you don’t know me. I’m happy to have my Christian assumptions and beliefs challenged, which is why I’m not irked or angry about anything you’ve written. I appreciate you taking the time to write it.



      July 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  5. Moriahbethany-

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the following statement of yours summarizes your atheistic moral code:
    “You should know that it is wrong because you do not want those things done to you.”

    The wolf doesn’t want to be eaten by other animals. Therefore, under your code, the wolf is wrong when it eats a deer.

    Is that what you believe?



    July 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

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