I've wanted to do a post on the issue of gay marriage for a while. Because my position is so sticky and frankly politically incorrect, even among many of my conservative online colleagues, I've procrastinated writing it.
Yesterday, Gerard Vanderleun at American Digest, a man I respect and agree with on many issues, put up a post on gay marriage entitled Just Do It. He wrote the piece in 2006, but revised it this week to commemorate the new California ruling allowing same sex unions in that state.
I want to make a few comments first with respect to Gerard's piece, and second with regard to the whole issue of gay unions and the institution of marriage.
I intend to make it brief and want to set aside my religious and moral predilections here:
Gerard's piece makes two points which I take issue with:
First, he opens that he no longer cares who sleeps with whom and quotes Dorothy Sayers with the following:
"I'm with Dorothy Sayers on this one:
"'As I grow older and older
And totter toward the tomb,
I find that I care less and less,
Who goes to bed with whom.'"
I agree none of us should be concerned with who goes to bed with whom---a complete waste of time---unless it's our spouse or a next-door-neighbor who's bringing farm animals into their home late at night and waking us up in the process. That could conceivably make it our business.
What I really disagree with here is that Gerard equates who's having sex with whom---a human behavior/drive/function----with who's marrying whom---a basic institution and building block of society. You simply can't equate the two; it's like comparing apples with digestion. While I don't have time to fret over who's sleeping with whom, I do have time to worry over who's marrying whom.
Human behaviors, longings and predilections are not the same as human institutions. To confuse the two is to make a large scale error. Behaviors gratify the passions and wants of individuals while institutions exist to benefit the greater good of Society with a capital S. Marriage has a purpose greater than sexual realm fulfillment and greater still than even individual happiness though it's great when that happens. And while this is all obvious, in some ways it's not as understood as we might think or hope.
Marriage is not a individual right; it's an institution for the greater good and should not be open for negotiation to special interests of any kind.
Perhaps the greatest reason for the high divorce rate, in my opinion, in modern society is that people confuse their personal expectations for individual gratification with the demands of an institution like marriage. We want constant comfort and gratification to be an inalienable right and when we find out it's not, we want to shuck it or change it, as if it was designed to be a behavior gratifier for the individual. Marriage is an institution for the greater good.
Anyone who has stuck it out through thick and thin in marriage---unfortunately that's not me---knows that the institution of marriage can be a tough ride at times, but it can produce depth and maturity like no other human structure that's ever been devised by God or man.
Secondly, I disagree with Gerard's argument that gays should be given the right to marry in order to experience the possible right of divorce. This would allow gays to suffer the way many of us heteros have through our own failed marriages. The implication here is that gays will learn the truth that marriage ain't no panacea.
While, I don't disagree with Gerard's contention that marriage is not always a rose garden and can be fraught with plenty of thorns, I don't find any of this---that marriage is an equal opportunity disappointer---- a compelling argument for or against the redefintion the institution of marriage. Nothing in his piece sways me.
So for now, I'd like to leave it behind and tread on why I think the redefinition of the institution called marriage is a bad idea whether it's for gays or any other two-, three- or more-some.
But first, I want to get general and define a human institution. According to Wiki:
"Institutions are structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior. The term, institution, is commonly applied to customs and behavior patterns important to a society."
The operative part is that an institution exists for a human purpose and permanence that transcends individual lives and intentions, with rules that govern human behavior to achieve those purposes.
What are some basic human institutions?
First there's the instituion of language for common communication.
There's the institution of currency and banking for common work and exchange of goods and services.
There's measurement for common discerning size and volume.
And there's the institution of marriage the basic building block of the family and society. It accomplishes the basic need of perpetuating the species and growing the next generation in the most elegant, efficient and safe ways possible.
My point here is that human institutions are the solid bedrock on which society is formed. It is a fundamental organizing principle . It is meant to be permanent. It is meant to bring order. It is for the expedious good of the Whole. It is not for the modeling and shaping of minority special interests. Not my special interests. Not yours. But today, through our own careless, we're allowing it to happen.
I don't like special interests messing with the basic building blocks of my society.
I'll go at this again in another post soon.