Sunday, June 30, 2013
[Opinion] A Suggestion on Same-Sex Marriage
1. On Wednesday, June 26 2013, the US Supreme Court made two rulings regarding same-sex marriage.
I agree with some aspects of the rulings but disagree with others.
I would like to state my agreement and disagreement and further make a suggestion.
The suggestion may lower the temperature of the cultural war over "same-sex marriage".
2. I agree with the US Supreme Court that governments should not deny but rather extend the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as heterosexual couples.
I disagree with the US Supreme Court's refusal to rule on the legality of same-sex marriage.
My opinion is that same-sex marriage is not marriage.
My suggestion is for the US Congress, the legislative branch of government, to create a new legal category for same-sex couples that would have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples but not calling it "marriage".
3. There is no doubt that there is a cultural war going on in the US.
This cultural war is rooted in deep disagreement over values.
These values in turn are grounded in larger units of analysis called "world-views".
Although there are others, but the two main conflicting world-views in the US are between Christian Theism and Naturalism.
Christian theists believe the Bible is the Word of God and its moral commands and prohibitions are binding on human beings.
Christian theists believe they live in a Christian theistic universe that is created by God.
Naturalists denied the God of the Bible exists.
Many naturalists believe values and morality are invented by human beings for themselves and are binding in so far as they are enforceable by law or force.
Naturalists believe they live in a naturalistic universe that is, per the late Carl Sagan, "the Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be."
Mentally, the Christian theists and naturalists live in the same world but different universes.
4. Marriage, according to the Bible, is instituted by God for the good of men and women.
(Genesis 2: 22-24 ESV): "And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
(Matthew 19:4-6 ESV): "He [Jesus] answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.' ”
Therefore, for those of us who believe the Bible is the Word of God, marriage is not define by a couple living in a loving relationship with each other, but the joining of a man and woman before God.
Since marriage is an institution instituted by God, it should be honor by everyone including governments.
5. Does the view that same-sex marriage is not marriage imply that I want to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples?
The answer is no: I do not want to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples.
This is a lesson we should learn from the European Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment followed the Reformation in Europe and, in many ways, was conditioned by the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation.
The Reformation and Counter-Reformation were marked by severe conflicts over politics and religious doctrines.
Especially brutal was the Thirty Years' War.
("Thirty-Years' War", Wikipedia): "The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) was a series of wars principally fought in Central Europe, involving most of the countries of Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history, and one of the longest continuous wars in modern history."
Tolerance was one lesson the Enlightenment learned from the brutal conflicts of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation: We might disagree with each other but we should respect the rights of one another.
For my part:
(a) Respecting the rights of same-sex couples is not to deny them rights and benefits that are similarly entitled by heterosexual couples; but
(b) Respecting the rights of same-sex couples does not imply that I agree with them that same-sex marriage is marriage.
6. But on this matter of marriage, there is another way that will lessen the tension between the two sides of this cultural war.
A lot of the tensions arise because advocates of same-sex marriage want to expand the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
Ostensibly, this is to extend equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples.
But if equal rights and benefits is the goal or aim of these advocates, then there is another way to go.
Instead of expanding the legal definition of marriage, why not create a new legal category for same-sex couples?
Since a lot of those who believe same-sex marriage should be legally recognize as marriage are naturalists, why not take a cue from the animals of nature.
Biologists who study animals use the category "pair-bond".
The term "pair-bond" is descriptive and morally neutral.
Mathematically, there are four kinds of pair-bonds:
Since Bible believing Christians view marriage is instituted by God and therefore sacrosanct, why not preserve the existing practice and use the term "marriage" exclusively for the male-female or female-male pair-bond.
Why not create a new legal category for the male-male or female-female pair-bond and invest the same legal rights and benefits for couples under this category?
The advocates of same-sex marriage can chose a new name for this category and thus avoid a fight over terminology.
The suggestion is instead of expanding the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, why not create a new legal category for them?
Although this will not change the mind of many (or any) on marriage, this will lessen the intensity of the conflicts between the two sides.
7. One lesson we should learn from the Enlightenment is tolerance.
But tolerance does not mean that there is no truth or falsehood, or right and wrong.
Tolerance means that even if we disagree with each other, we should respect the rights of one another.
In choosing to fight to expand the legal definition of marriage, the advocates of same-sex marriage unnecessarily raise the intensity of the cultural wars in the US.
The cultural wars are rooted in deep seated difference in values and ultimately in world-views.
I do not see any way for the two sides to come to agreement.
But even in disagreement, we should be civil to each other.
BBC News. 2013. US Supreme Court in Historic Rulings on Gay Marriage. June 26.
Hurley, Lawrence. 2013. Gay Marriage Gets Big Boost in Two Supreme Court Rulings. Reuters, June 26.
Liptak, Adam. 2013. Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings. The New York Times, June 26.
Reilly, Ryan J., and Sabrina Siddiqui. 2013. Supreme Court DOMA Decision Rules Federal Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional. The Huffington Post, June 26.
"Pair bond", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"Thirty Years' War", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,