it gets better?

So many people have commented so well on the gay marriage uproar last week that I don’t have much to add, but I wanted to say two things.

1. Questioning motives is often a smokescreen.

Last week the left repeatedly said that conservatives are against gay marriage because we’re angry and afraid of what gay marriage will do to our straight marriages. I have two responses:

a. This charge is ridiculous. We know that heterosexuals have already trashed the institution of marriage, so there’s very little damage that can be done to it. We aren’t opposed to gay marriage, as Stephen Colbert said, because we think gay marriage will somehow hurt our own marriages. That’s just silly.

Far from being afraid of homosexuals, even our churches are more welcoming than they used to be. In fact, to sing some of our new praise songs, which speak of snuggling up to Jesus and feeling his heartbeat, it would help to be gay. Corporate worship these days is especially difficult for heterosexual males.

b. This charge indicates they don’t have a good argument. You only go ad hominem when you know your argument can’t stand by itself. So let’s not get angry and respond in kind when our character is attacked, but take such flailing as a sign they have nothing else to say.

By the way, this same rule applies to us. There undoubtedly are homosexuals, such as Dan Savage, who would like to see homosexual practice go mainstream so that any religious institution which refuses to hire a practicing homosexual would be guilty of a hate crime. And I did cringe when the creator of Will and Grace declared that now little boys can not only dream of becoming president but also of marrying the president. There may come a day, and soon, when pastors and leaders of parachurch organizations will face stiff penalties for refusing to violate their conscience. But we won’t get far by attacking the motives of the other side. Let’s advance the debate by sticking to the issues rather than getting sucked into the personalities involved.

2. May does not mean Can.

The argument of the left is straightforward:  homosexuals have the right to marry whomever they choose. I agree this is a free country, so anyone should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt others and as long as it is possible. But there’s the rub. Homosexuals may have the right to marry, but do they have the ability?

I have the right to join the Indiana Pacers, but I don’t have the ability. I also wouldn’t want to mess up the number they’re doing on LeBron James. I have the right to jump off my roof and fly, but I don’t have the ability. You get the idea.

This is the one thing which was strangely silent from President Obama’s case last week. No one on the left wanted to define marriage and say whether it was ontologically possible for two people of the same gender to accomplish it. They assumed that the right to marry implied the ability to marry, but why should we think this is the case?

I’m reasonably certain that gay marriage will eventually become law, if not now then probably within five to ten years. The left will likely win the politics, so they may easily dismiss what I’m about to say. But I want to ask three questions which they eventually will have to answer, and the sooner the better.

1. What is the definition of marriage?

2. Where does this definition come from? On what is it grounded?

3. How stable is this definition? What will prevent it from changing in the future?



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9 responses to “it gets better?”

  1. Sam Frazier

    They are using as an argument a picture with ‘definitions’ of marriage they cherry picked from the Bible, mostly the Old Testament. This box won’t let me post the print, but here’s a link to it:

    As you are far more qualified than I to rebut this, I leave it to you. Can’t wait to see your response! Go Prof!

  2. mikewittmer

    Sam: I don’t know what they think this chart is supposed to prove. I noticed that homosexual marriage wasn’t on the list, and they didn’t produce a text which justified polygamy. Saying that David had multiple wives is not the same thing as saying he should have. Description is not prescription.

  3. Sam Frazier

    I think the point they were attempting to make was that, at least on the surface, the Bible appears to allow, condone (insert descriptive of your choice) marriages of different types. Since the Bible seems to appear so vague on the surface, the reasoning would follow that God did not specifically outline what marriage was meant to be, so, as a legal union, whatever you want is okay. I’m doing an informal, personal study on areas of the Bible that appear to be contradictory or just downright confusing, so found it interesting after I saw it posted on Facebook.

    Oh, and don’t be afraid to notify me of any bloopers (or is it bloops?) I might make…..;-). On that one, would I bloop when I make a blooper?

  4. Rev. Z. Bartels

    “In fact, to sing some of our new praise songs, which speak of snuggling up to Jesus and feeling his heartbeat, it would help to be gay.”


    Oh, how I love Mike Wittmer (in a totally hetero way, of course).

  5. […] it gets better? ( Share/Bookmark […]

  6. neukomment

    ….and someday we will have to apologize to the Mormons for depriving them of their “right” to have polygamous marriages….

  7. My Catholic friends at this site have done some excellent writing on this. In addition, the congregation for doctrine and faith at the vatican is heavily referenced. The church’s teaching remains one and faithful to Christ.

    The main difference between what you said and what the Church teaches is that homosexual marriage would do harm to the valid form of marriage for heterosexuals. (They would agree as you said that heterosexual infidelity does harm) I am going to presume your comment was partly sarcastic. The Church is concerned about both homosexual and heterosexual offenses against Christ’s sacrament of holy matrimony.

  8. mikewittmer

    Thank you for this, Mike. This is one instance where RC and Protestants can and should unite. I was merely responding to the repeated claim that conservatives fear that allowing homosexuals to marry will somehow threaten our own marriages. I don’t think that seeing two guys holding hands is going to make me question my commitment to Julie. I do agree that gay marriage does knock a huge hole in the institution of marriage.

  9. SG

    1. The definition of marriage is one man takes as many women as he can afford and keeps them as property, but treats them much better than his slaves (which he also might take for wives if his actual wives don’t give him sons).

    2. The Bible.

    3. Fortunately, it changed hundreds of years ago and is still evolving as we become wiser and more ethical as a society.

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