Let Me Not to the Marriage of a Man and a Woman Admit Impediment
I was stunned the other day to receive an email from a close friend of many years, ending a friendship I had thought proof against time and circumstance. My correspondent, who is gay, objected furiously to a passing comment my wife had posted on Facebook to the effect that Christian businesses were being driven into the ground for abiding by their religious convictions and that gay activists had gone from asking for acceptance and tolerance, which is perfectly right and proper, to jubilating over the legislated ratification of gay marriage.
Her remark was too much for him. In a flourish of sanctimoniousness, he pontificated: “I simply can’t call somebody a friend who thinks that a Supreme Court decision saying that I am your equal, and that my marriage is equal to yours, is an obscenity”—though the word “obscenity” had never been used or remotely suggested. He continued in a breathtaking leap of paranoid irrationality that we now regarded same-sex marriage as “on the same scale as jihad.” Finally, he informed me that he was not interested in debating his “humanity and equality.” We were never to correspond again—notwithstanding that I had always cherished his humanity and that “equality” is a concept, as he well knows, often fraught with unintended consequences and should not be bandied about without caution and restraint. We are both familiar with Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, with its warning that once equality becomes a fetish, liberty is the casualty.
I found it mordantly ironic that my now former friend, a staunch conservative, a literary traditionalist, one of the most amiable and brilliant men I have ever met, and among the most incisive writers of our time on the subject of societal degradation and the malignant impact of progressivist ideology, would gratefully endorse the ruling of a decidedly left-oriented and Obama-stacked Supreme Court hell-bent on tearing down the bearing wall of American society and, indeed, of Western civilization itself. But it appears that the gay agenda trumps all. Like the Pro Choice mania that now afflicts us, gay triumphalism is nothing short of an assault on the culture of life.
Life, as Victor Davis Hanson sagely reminds us, “is something more than a cause, a race, a sex, or religion,” and assuredly something more than the religion of sex. But the lesson is lost on the reductive mentality of same-sex militants and gay marriage activists, as I have ruefully noted among a number of my gay acquaintances, who proclaim themselves true-blue conservatives. Resisting the obscenity—to use my ex-friend’s term—of having gay marriage forced on a nation by a morally derelict and activist judiciary, attended by an array of punishments and penalties for violating its diktats, seems entirely appropriate to me.
Even though I was peremptorily instructed not to communicate, I felt it incumbent to respond, if only for one last time. “I do not believe in gay marriage,” I wrote, “and here's the reason. For all its flaws and failures and betrayals, marriage is the pivotal social institution predicated upon the perpetuation of the race. When marriage is inherently and by nature sterile, it is not marriage; it may be a partnership, it may be a loving union, it may be a spiritual covenant, and all that is wonderful. But when heterosexual marriage goes under, when it ceases to serve its ancestral purpose, when it is no longer respected and supported and kept intact for its service to life, then we go under, all of us—straight or gay is irrelevant in these circumstances.”
I tried to make my thesis as clear as possible in an article I posted on this site five years ago, titled “Same-Sex Miscarriage,” which my quondam friend had obviously not read—or our relationship would assuredly have ended there and then. I was not trying to offend or to wallow in obnoxious self-righteousness or to articulate some deeply-held religious principle but to make a purely functional case for the preservation of marriage as a compact between a man and a woman. I have no moral brief against gay or lesbian relationships, whether predicated on love or sex. To each his own, in whatever way pleasure or emotional fulfillment can be found and enjoyed without materially damaging others.
The legal basis of marriage, however, strikes me as untouchable, not because it is a sacrament—no offense intended to people of faith—but because it is a guarantee. As I argued in the earlier article, “same-sex unions…have been a fact of mutual existence from earliest times. But same-sex marriages breach the premise of the institution of matrimony, which is propagation and child-rearing, reinforced by contractual security and meant to ensure existential continuance.” In a time of social anomie, cultural disintegration and epidemic grievance-mongering, it is not surprising that “the institutions which keep a society intact and guarantee its prolongation are now being redefined in such a way as to cancel their fundamental purpose.”