Russell and Duenes

Will They Now “Save Themselves for Marriage?”

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Peter Leithart, who contributes regularly to Touchstone magazine, wrote a thoughtful piece in First Things, entitled, “The Failure of Gay Marriage.” He argues that the nature of the gay marriage project, a project not given to the norms of true marriage, has sown the seeds of its own irrelevance and failure among gays. Indeed, on a broad scale gays have never had any intention of taking on values such as virginity and chastity prior to or within marriage.

In keeping with this point, the line in the article that grabbed me is a quote from Sam Shulman: “I am not aware of any gay marriage activist who suggests that gay men and women should create a new category of disapproval for their own sexual relationships, after so recently having been freed from the onerous and bigoted legal blight on homosexual acts. . . [D]eclaring gay marriage legal will not produce the habit of saving oneself for marriage or create a culture which places a value on virginity or chastity (concepts that are frequently mocked in gay culture precisely because they are so irrelevant to gay romantic life).”

This is a potent assertion, and points to the reality that achieving the legalization of gay “marriage” has never really been about marriage or adhering to a traditional marriage culture. It’s been about forcing a certain social and sexual culture on our people and nation, a culture that has been destructive of, and will now more forcefully eat away at, true marriage. As Shulman intimates, it’s simply unimaginable to think of oneself hearing a male homosexual talk of “waiting until marriage.”

I believe Leithart’s piece also puts the lie to the oft-repeated trope that legalizing gay marriage won’t have any effect on true heterosexual marriage. As the line goes, I’m already happily married to a woman, so what harm will be done to my marriage if Bill next door marries Joe? And so what if gay marriage does not entail virtues like fidelity, chastity, sexual purity and the establishment of kinship ties? Surely that’s not going to cause heterosexuals to abandon marriage, is it?

But this misses the point entirely. It’s not that my heterosexual marriage will suddenly fall apart upon the legalization of gay marriage. Harm to an institution does not work that way. Rather, as Leithart says, “[t]he irrelevance of marriage to gay people will create a series of perfectly reasonable, perfectly unanswerable questions: If gays can aim at marriage, yet do without it equally well, who are we to demand it of one another? Who are women to demand it of men? Who are parents to demand it of their children’s lovers—or to prohibit their children from taking lovers until parents decide arbitrarily they are ‘mature’ or ‘ready’? By what right can government demand that citizens obey arbitrary and culturally specific kinship rules—rules about incest and the age of consent, rules that limit marriage to twosomes?”

This is how marriage will be further weakened and debased by gay marriage. This is how human flourishing in our nation will suffer another blow. It’s not the only blow, of course, and Leithart concludes that it is not even the main one. The legalization of gay marriage will simply exacerbate the almost incalculable damage heterosexuals have done to marriage in the first place.



Written by Michael Duenes

April 22, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Ethics, Marriage

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