|A couple of notes before beginning.
First, this column will no doubt stun, even disappoint and anger many persons on my list, who will be sure I have caved-in to the forces of the dark side. I have not. My thoughts come after long prayerful consideration.
Also, I won't have used the word "ruined" to describe the current state of heterosexual marriage, badly damaged would be more like it. As you will see, I think the traditional value of marriage has been diminished by the way we, as a culture, have "individualized" marriage. But "ruined" is not a bad summation by the headline writer. - LG
Let gays wed; institution already ruined
The Edmonton Journal
Wed 07 May 2003
Byline: Lorne Gunter
Column: Lorne Gunter
Source: The Edmonton Journal
There are any number of good reasons to oppose gay marriage.
The family, not the individual, is the fundamental building block of society. By that I mean the natural family, the one that has existed for tens of thousands of years, in which procreation is possible.
The natural family has been revered by every major religion and culture since humans gave one-month's notice to the landlords of their caves and bought little starter tents in Mesopotamia.
Why? Not so gays and lesbians could be excluded from the mainstream, but to preserve society's core institution and rear the next generation.
It is in the family we first encounter a hierarchy of needs beyond our own. It is where we first learn of the existence of a social order, where we learn to sacrifice for the good of the whole and where children can be sheltered and guided while they grow.
We tamper with the family at our peril.
But gays and lesbians are hardly the first to tamper with marriage. Heterosexuals have already largely stripped marriage of its essentials. As an institution, marriage is already only about as meaningful as those who enter into it choose to make it for themselves and their spouses.
Liberalizations to the divorce laws and the laws governing so-called common-law marriage (living together) have already "individualized" marriage, and thus effectively rendered it meaningless to anyone who does not take his or her vows seriously.
No longer is it necessary to subordinate one's selfish nature to the needs of one's spouse and children. Kids cramping your career? Get them to a day care. Spouse not satisfying you sexually? Ignore that little voice that tells you, on balance, he/she is worth staying true to, or that staying together for the good of the kids is noble. That's just quaint, archaic thinking, completely out of step with modern progressive thinking. Any relationship magazine worth its $5.95 cover price will assure you your fulfillment comes first. Have an affair. Ditch your dreary spouse.
That's the key to happiness.
We don't have to find happiness through service to our families anymore. How old-fashioned. Now we all know that our families will be happiest only when we have first achieved individual happiness.
Sure, not everyone has such a jaded, self-centred attitude toward marriage. But hundreds of thousands, even millions, of heterosexuals do. At present, nearly half of children will reach adulthood in a home without both their birth parents. That can't be the fault of gays; Canada does not yet permit gay marriage.
The best reason to oppose gay marriage -- the threat it poses to society's essential institution -- is, in all honesty, the best reason also to lament equally the state of marriage as it has devolved under heterosexuals in the past half-century.
Frankly, while the social conservatives' case against gay marriage is a forceful one, in the end I find it hollow. To be sure, it is strongly rooted in theology and in an honest understanding of the social consequences of marriage breakdown.
By comparison, the argument for gay marriage seems wilfully blind to the downside.
But too many social conservatives seem possessed of an idealized view of heterosexual marriage, rather than a real-world view. Marriage has already been so diminished by straights, it's hard to see how much more damage gays could do to it.
I know this is more of an argument for re-strengthening heterosexual marriage than for permitting gay marriage. But given that the former isn't going to happen -- liberal politicians, crusading judges and feminist legal bureaucrats will never permit it -- I see no
compelling reason not to extend the current, situational, only-what-you-make-of-it version of marriage to gays and lesbians.
Saying that, I am not naive. I know that the moment civil gay marriages are permitted, gay activists will begin pushing the courts and human rights commissions to force churches to accept gay marriage, too.
Politicians advocating for gay marriage, such as Liberal leadership candidates Paul Martin and John Manley, insist no change to federal marriage laws will compel churches that oppose gay marriages to perform them.
But politicians no longer make the social laws in Canada; judges and rights panels do. Courts and human rights commissions have already overridden federal and provincial laws to force Christian colleges to hire gay lab instructors, Christian printers to print gay material and to declare the Bible anti-gay, hate literature.
If not immediately, then sometime soon after gay marriage is sanctioned, some judge somewhere in Canada will rule that gay rights trump freedom of religion. A Catholic priest or Baptist pastor will then be ordered to marry two gays or lesbians over his or her theological objections.
And the Supreme Court will eventually back up such a lower court ruling. The Charter contains no gay rights. Indeed, Parliament seven times turned down including such rights in the Charter while drafting it in 1981. The Supremes manufactured them anyway.
No promise a Canadian politician makes to limit aggressive new rights and preserve traditions, is worth the breath it takes to utter it.
Still, gays and lesbians should be permitted to marry, and churches that object should begin fighting now against the coming moves to compel their acceptance.
Perhaps reason will triumph again, one day.