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Ten Reasons Why "Same-Sex Marriage” Affects Your Marriage: A Reply to My Critics
John Barber, Ph.D.

Only recently did I learn that an article I wrote many months ago, titled, “Ten Reasons Why Same Sex Marriage Affects Your Marriage” (April 1st, 2013), had garnished a large number of responses by LGBTQ advocates (The original article can be seen here: http://johnjbarber.blogspot.com/2013/04/tenreasons-why-same-sex-marriage.html or here: http://theaquilareport.com/ten-reasons-why-same-sex-marriage-affects-your-marriage/).

So this reply comes somewhat late. Before I comment on counterpoints to my ten reasons, I wish to put forth a few preliminaries.  

First, I want to be clear that the authority for my views on marriage and sexuality is Scripture. Although my original article drew from legal, sociological, and rational data, all of it reasoned outward from a point of origination in God’s Word. The following response will manifest that source of divine revelation even more emphatically than my original essay. Second, I have no intention to interact with the massive amount of ad hominem remarks made about me by critics of my views. As in my first article, I will endeavor to keep the bar of discourse high. Third, I can’t reply to everyone, or to every point, so I have pulled from the mass of rejoinders what I believe to be some of the better counter arguments.

1.      Same-sex marriage reduces the worth of your marriage

Developing this idea, I used an analogy. “…if a government declared the price of coal to be equivalent with the price of gold, would the cost of coal go up, or would the cost of gold come down? The price of gold would come down. Traditional marriage is the gold standard of marriage.”

But [Barber’s] idea that government is what determines the worth of marriage, in the same way it sets value on currency and precious metals, is what should grossly offend even the straightest couples the heterosexual world has ever seen.

I did not say that the government decides the value of marriage. The reader misread my point. My analogy is meant to prod people to think about the devaluation of marriage due to the pronouncement that same-sex marriage is equal in worth. This elicits a question. Who is to say that traditional marriage is the “gold standard of marriage?” The answer is God. That is for the reason that marriage images the rich relationship of Christ to his church, and in this, it find its worth. Paul writes, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5: 31-32). The intrinsic value of marriage is not, then, derived by government or by a couple’s autonomous self-determination, but by God who instituted marriage (Gen. 2:18-25).  

2.      Your marriage will be forced to abide by the social strictures of same-sex marriage

He basically says that same-sex marriage, in its being constitutionally legitimized, must be recognized as such, and, therefore, people in same-sex marriages will have to be treated in accords with the law – i.e. they can no longer be discriminated against . . . Racist KKK members, for example, do not have to recognize blacks as equal in any sincere sense; they only have to treat blacks as legally equal. 

This is a good point. Just because one disagrees with a law does not mean one is free to disobey it. Point of fact, the Bible clearly commands, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Peter 2: 13-14). The related, and equally important issue, however, is freedom of conscience, which state-mandated compliance with same-sex marriage impugns. Case in point are Aaron and Melissa Klein,  owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Based on their Christian convictions, the Oregon couple refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple who wished to marry. After numerous threats, including an email hoping that their children would fall ill, and another for Mr. Kline to be shot and even raped, the couple was forced to close their business. This is the problem of “censorship as tolerance” and it broaches far more than the legitimacy of making people “treat” same-sex couples as they prefer. It forces objectors to be active participants in things they cannot accept in good conscience. On this, 1 Peter 2:13-14 (cited above) does not give carte blanche to governing authorities to render any decisions, to which people of religious conscience must acquiesce. The same Peter who wrote the text above, and John, refused a clear command given by the Council because following it would make them disobey God and go against conscience (Acts 4:19). Of course, this distinction matters little to supporters of same-sex marriage.

3.      The rights of spouses to dissent same-sex marriage will be infringed

Except they won’t, you will still have the right to protest gays in your church, in your home, even in public. If anyone tries to stop you, wave the constitution in their face. Barber is apparently confusing his inability to discriminate legally or in the business sector with his constitutional right to dissent in the private one. This is just plain misinformation.

Now we are told where we can dissent. Thank-you very much. However, God does not recognize a sacred/secular distinction regarding open dissent. Instead, ‘Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Whatever you do” includes the business sector. Now it would be ridiculous to withhold services from a homosexual couple in a restaurant or to decline the services of a lesbian optometrist. My concern here, and this is similar to #2, are the multiple occasions in which heterosexual couples (and singles) will be called upon to participate in, or to advance the cause of, homosexual activity in the business sector under the rubric of antidiscrimination. But Paul writes, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). That means that religiously-grounded, conscientious objectors to same-sex marriage can, and should, engage in all business activities with gays and lesbians, up to the point that that activity calls on them to “participate in”, or to facilitate, “deeds” they deem to be deviant. Infringement of religious liberties is already in case law, as demonstrated in the instance of New Mexico photographer, Elaine Huguenin. When she refused to photograph a lesbian wedding on religious grounds, Elane Photography was taken to court whereby the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against her. The imposition of penalties or disabilities, despite all the promises we once heard to the contrary, is due to the fact that liberal support for same-sex marriage will not accommodate dissent. We HAVE “waved the constitution.” Gays simply don’t care.  

4.      Same-sex marriage will absorb your marriage into a new view of reality

I have not found a good reply to this point. However several interlocutors have said that I am here conflating ontological and legal matters. So I will offer some thoughts on this critique.

 

Since the advent of postmodernism, metanarrative has been disqualified whereas norms are now seen as merely arbitrary. Hence, progressivists become skittish when ontology (science of being) is linked with law (regulations stipulating conduct), especially when the ontology in view presupposes the transcendent norm of God. Paradoxically, a reason same-sex marriage defenders will not permit accommodation of dissent (see #2&3) is because non-Christian thought is inherently utopian. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University has made this very point, when he said of the progressive vision that it is not “a purely political doctrine”, rather, it is a “comprehensive view” of human nature. “Religious Dissenters Should Not Be Required to Work at Gay Weddings, Gay Rights Advocate Argues,” Napp Nazworth, Christian Post Reporter, (November 21, 2013). What this tells us is that liberals have not jettisoned the idea of metanarrative entirely. They have just swapped out the biblical one for a new vision that better fits their agenda. That new “view of reality” is materialistic; indeed, nihilistic in orientation, but it operates quite similarly to an ontology nonetheless. It seems that the progressive can never reject all absolutes, for he is an absolute law unto himself. With his new paradigm of reality, he is now repositioned to speak of “justice” and “rights.” The problem is that, detached from the God of justice and rights, these words are abstract concepts with no stable meaning. That mattes little to the progressive for ultimately he can rely on the means of his enforcement: the blunt edge of his legal stick. Still, he is not free from a central obstruction in his worldview. He is guilty of what G. E. Moore called the “naturalistic fallacy.” That is the idea that one cannot deduce ought from is. Impersonalistic views of law and ethics that attempt to derive action from impersonal realities like “happiness” is a violation of logic. One cannot say “Sunbathing is pleasurable” therefore “You ought to sunbathe.” Likewise, a man cannot say, “I loves a man” therefore “I ought to be able to marry him.” Put differently, one cannot deduce a moral fact from a non-moral fact. Should a man take a deontological position and say that same-sex marriage is a matter of duty, he is guilty of the naturalistic fallacy because he cannot show the basis for moral obligation, but only assume it. If he takes a teleological direction and clams that marrying another man suits his purpose, he is most guilty of the naturalistic fallacy because it is not self-evident that because humans seek marriage or felicity they therefore ought to seek someone of the same sex to marry. And if a man takes an existential path and says that marrying another man provides him pleasure, then self has acted as its own motive, goal, and standard at the price of rational coherence. This is the new view of reality your heterosexual marriage is now being absorbed into. Only the calibration of law and ethics with the God of the Bible answers the naturalistic fallacy. This is because God is the ultimate norm for law and ethics.

5.      Same-sex marriage makes the concepts of husband and wife irrelevant in your marriage

Nether have I found a solid reply to this point. However, amidst a barrage of insults (but rather clever at points), I found one comment from the same fellow who misconstrued #1 to mean that I think the government gives marriage its worth.

I don’t care if all my gay friends get married and decide to make up their own constructed language perhaps some gay variant of Esperanto? — to have unique legal terms for what their spouses are. I’m a straight dude, and if someday I manage to get hit over the head and married, then I strongly suspect my wife will call me her husband, and vice versa. Unless, of course, we decide to call each other something else . . . But it’s our  decision, because it’s our marriage, and nothing anyone decides about anything pertaining to their marriages can possibly have any effect on ours. Because we’d make the decisions for us! What a concept, huh? 

I did not say that same-sex marriage makes the “terms” husband and wife irrelevant. I said it makes the “concepts” of husband and wife irrelevant. What this fellow is espousing is called the “deconstruction of language.” That is clear from his use of the term “constructed language.” This school of thought, beginning mainly with Derrida, saw language as a means of group subordination. That in turn helped to fuel the progressivist movement that sought to question the meaning of language, with its goal, the free-speech advocacy for an open society. Overall the modern movement means to undercut any positivist linkage between absolute reality and language, assuming that a universal understanding of spoken language is a cause of ongoing suppression of victimized people-groups. Ironically, then, the meaning of normative language must be changed to meaninglessness in order for it to be reinterpreted as meaningful for the new vision of the world. This is why the concepts of husbands and wives, traditionally comprehended and protected, are offensive to gay activists and their supporters. Sure, you can call her or him anything you want. But if your interest is to protect the concepts of “husbands and wives”, just make sure that it is a he and a she you are renaming, otherwise you have fallen for a much bigger lie aimed at the rewriting of the relation of language to reality.

6.      Same-sex marriage will obfuscate the state’s interests in your marriage

This argument is quite strained. After all, same-sex married couples can still have children (although obtained through different means) and nuclear families, both of which are well accordant with the State’s social interest in marriage. And, as far as procreation is concerned, the issue is altogether mute, because there are many heterosexual couples for whom procreation is irrelevant – either because they can’t procreate or don’t intend to procreate. Thus, the State’s interest in marriage is not obfuscated but only opened to wider application.

In developing this point, I noted Justice O’Connor’s concurring opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, in which she said that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a “legitimate state interest.” Lawrence v. Texas, 123 S. Ct. 2472, 2487-88 (2003) (O’Connor, J., concurring). I then added, “Such interests are predicated mainly in the fact that heterosexual couples can produce children which facilitates social order and the longevity of the state.Note that I stated an axiomatic point, which is that the vast majority of heterosexual couples can “produce children.” However, my critic changed my words from “produce children” to “have children” in order to sustain his point. In his mind, as long as homosexual couples can adopt, they are fulfilling the State’s interests. Does it not occur to us where those adopted children came from? They were produced by heterosexual couples. And always will be. Despite the fact that few heterosexual couples cannot produce children, or choose not to produce them, hardly makes this fact “mute.” The controlling factor for the State in marriage remains the production of children. Substantiating the State’s interests in heterosexual marriage is the equally compelling idea that adoption is not open in all states to homosexuals, and even if it were, the research on the benefits verses disabilities to children are not known. It is wishful thinking to say that the State’s interests in marriage are not obfuscated but “widened” in the case of homosexual adoptions. Moreover, Scripture is quite clear that heterosexual parent(s) are the exclusive parents for children (Ephesians 6:1-2). If my point is “strained”, then it has been strained throughout all of world history.

7.      Same-sex marriage defeats the purpose of the state’s interest in benefiting your marriage

[T]his argument being quite speculative (for it is entirely unclear as to why such tax benefits would change) . . .”

Point granted. But portending future outcomes in tax law, especially in light of the large change in American social structure the inclusion of homosexual marriage will bring, is fair game.

“. . . . it is also peculiarly parochial and mistaken. It is mistaken in claiming that same-sex marriage is only intent on giving institutional legitimacy to the personal happiness of two people in love. Homosexuals desire marriage for more reasons than this. They, too, want to have legitimate marriages in order to protect their families.”

Here’s the fundamental problem with legitimizing same-sex marriage. For a man to have sex with a man, or a woman with a woman, is immoral (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Timothy 1:10). If a homosexual couple seeks marriage to legitimize their love, then that is wrong because it is immoral for a man to fall romantically in love with a man. Should the same couple seek marriage “to protect their family”, then that is wrong inasmuch as God has relegated the raising of children to heterosexual couples. For those who believe that it belongs to others to prove the immutability of heterosexual marriage, over and against gay marriage, that fact has already been proven by Scripture. The problem is that some people don’t like the proof.  

8.      Same-sex marriage challenges the nature of your marriage

I added to this point, “If marriage is a civil right for all, then what is to stop other types of non-traditional relationships? Why not permit incestuous and polygamous marriages? Why not allow marriages between adults and children? How about nuptials between people and animals?

Several commentators called this the myth of the “slippery slope.”

But it’s not a myth. Informed social scientists are well aware of the evolutionary spiral downward (or upward depending on your viewpoint) in social mores. Once abortion was considered verboten. Divorce was once rarer due to the social stigma attached to it. Then came the loosening of social morality, which made room for an enabling tolerance to yesterdays’ wrongs. We all know that the lines of morality have shifted immeasurably over the years, so why continue poking fun at the slippery slope argument? Fifty years ago, who thought that over a dozen American states would legalize the marriage of two men? In Belgium, euthanasia became legal in 2002. Originally discussed in terms of terminal illness, changing social mores in that country have led to a slippery slope so dangerous that a 64-year-old woman suffering severe depression was euthanized, and with no notification given to her family members. Read the chilling account here:

9.      The redistribution of marriage rights modifies your marriage as a natural entity afforded legal recognition

I further stated that “the state does not create marriage but is to create complimentary environments in which martial life is legally recognized and protected. Redefining marriage by legal fiat changes this point of reference. It shifts the legal posture of the state from recognizing a preexisting institution to creating the institution after its own image and likeness.

Again, the author argues from a false belief. He claims that marriage is a naturally occurring relationship (in his mind, between a man and a woman) which is later protected and provided for legally . . . Furthermore, as with heterosexuals, gays and lesbians have naturally entered romantic relationships (again, in some societies, it was even praised). 

What I glean from this is that gays and lesbians naturally enter into romantic relationships as do heterosexuals. But that is not my point, which is that marriage itself is grounded in nature and is not the product of the State. For the State to champion a redefinition of marriage, as though it were the sole arbiter of who can marry, changes the point of orientation of marriage from nature to the State. The counter argument does not deal with my assertion in the least.

[Same-sex couples] too, wish to have their relationships protected and provided for, and, as citizens of a democracy, should they not have civil rights on par with their counterparts? 

Here the evaluator raises the issue of discrimination, viz., that people have a “civil right” to marry people of the same sex. My reply is that no one as a “right” to practice immorality (1 Corinthians 6:9). Let’s go even further. Who marries people? As a pastor, I have officiated marriages. But I do not marry people. In fact, wholesale commitment, sexual relations, a marriage certificate, not even marriage vows marry people. The one who marries people is God. Genesis 2:24 records, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” The Hebrew word, translated “cleave” is dabaq. The word is used elsewhere in Scripture in the context of Israel maintaining her covenant relationship with God (Deut. 4:4; 10:20). Understood this way, marriage is a covenant that involves three, not two. For God to enact and to enter into that covenant relationship a basic requirement of his must be fulfilled: a man and a woman must be present. No man and a woman, no marriage. That is why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage. The comparison is not between heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage. It is between marriage and its counterfeit.

10.  The legal legitimization of same-sex marriage affects your status as a father or a mother

In support of this point, I remark that granting homosexual marriagemarks a monumental shift in the posture of the law toward the capability of parents within marriage and therefore the status of both mother and father relevant to their child.”

The posture of the law would, in fact, not undergo a “monumental shift.” We have every reason to believe that children will still be protected under the law with respect to their parents (whoever they are determined to be), custody rights will still be treated much like they are now, and so on. 

This is another case of a writer changing my point to create a straw man. I did not say that there will be a monumental shift in the law regarding children or their protection (though that is possible). I said that the legal authorization of homosexual marriage marks a monumental shift in the posture of the law toward the “capability of parents.” It is self-evident that two woman cannot provide the same role in the life of a child as a father, and that two men cannot provide the same “caretaking function” of a mother. Do some really think that a man can perform all the caregiving functions of a mother? I would like to see that. Furthermore, that the law will undergo a “monumental shift” regarding parental function has, as I pointed out in my initial article, already happened. I wrote, In a prominent Massachusetts case allowing joint custody for the partner of a child’s biological mother, the court ruled that a “de facto” parent “performs a share of caretaking functions at least as great as the legal parent.” E.N.O. v. L.M.M., 711 N.E.2d 886, 891 (Mass. 1999). 


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