Two immense gray and silver buildings once towered high over the meandering canyons of Wall Street, reaching up, it seemed, almost to the clouds. The glittering Twin Towers were useful landmarks for first-time visitors to New York, and tourists lost in the tangled knot of streets nearby needed only to look up from the dark lanes and alleys to find their way.
It is easy to get lost in the old part of any large city, where the streets are laid out in haphazard fashion. It is easier still to get lost in a cleverly-designed maze of hedge or stone. But most perplexing of all is to be lost in a labyrinth of misleading words, offered by someone in a position of authority.
The gay-rights movement, aided by hordes of lawyers and liberal academics, has done just this with the issue of same-sex marriage. Offering plausible but false and pettifogging arguments is, after all, the definition of sophistry. Any arguing away from the truth is harmful, but it is especially dangerous when a man of the cloth lends his prestige to a very bad idea.
One would hope that liberal ministers of the Gospel would shed some much-needed light on same-sex marriage, rather than obscure the matter by blindly repeating what has already been said by the gay-rights movement. Some liberal preachers muddy the waters even further by making the outrageous claim that opposition to same-sex marriage is as oppressive as slavery or discrimination against women and minorities. All they achieve is to drive the public deeper into perplexity.
Because maps and mazes are constructed according to certain rules, there exist simple methods for finding one’s way in a puzzling landscape. In a new and unfamiliar city, one locates one’s position on a map then looks for the corresponding street signs. In a maze, one walks keeping the right hand on the maze wall at all times; and if one keeps to this rule, one is eventually led out of the darkness into the light of day.
To decide if same-sex marriage is advisable, we must know what ethical rules apply. It is important to keep in mind that these rules are not necessarily derived from Christian teaching. Homosexual practices have been opposed by every major religion from time immemorial, for the simple reason that they are wrong from the standpoint of nature. Such practices are intrinsically harmful, both to the individuals who engage in the behavior and to the societies that condone them.
It is wrong to claim, as liberal theologians do, that the institution of marriage is “evolving.” Marriage defined as one man and one woman is the only institution that meets the requirements of procreation and child-rearing. This definition, because it is based in reason and not in human law or social custom, is immutable, and can never “evolve.”
Further, monogamy has been the preferred form of marriage in the West for more than 2,000 years. It is preferred, since it is the definition that most accords with reason, and that best produces a stable and progressive society. Similarly, there are many instances in which the acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage has led to immediate decline and disaster.
This is the central question in the debate over same-sex marriage. Why should an institution that cannot fulfill the task of procreation and child-rearing, and which is based on harmful and immoral sexual practices, be put on a par with marriage? This is a question that no amount of sophistry can answer.
Instead, the gay-rights movement prefers to divert the attention of the public with misleading talk of civil rights. The Christian churches of Africa and Asia have already found their way out of the bewildering labyrinth of words. After Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual man, was made an Episcopal bishop in 2003, the churches of Africa and Asia separated themselves from their Episcopal brothers in England and America. For the robust and growing churches in the non-Western world, it was all too obvious that the call for homosexual rights came from liberal church leaders who already had their consciences bludgeoned on the issue of divorce and abortion.
The churches of Africa and Asia, standing outside our culture as impartial observers, felt no compulsion to “go along to get along” with a society awash with drugs, crime, corruption, violence and pornography. Nor were they eager to share in the last phase of the moral collapse of the West, the sanctioning of so-called marriages between men and men and women and women.
Michael S. Heath is executive director of the Maine Family Policy Council.