In my last post on homosexuality I put forth an argument against using the Bible as a barometer for determining the validity of same sex marriage in today’s society. In this, my second post on the subject, I would like to address some of the non-biblical arguments against homosexual marriages. In response to my last post Dr. Wood suggested the book “The future of marriage” by David Blakenhorn. It is this work that I will be addressing in this post.
The basis of Blakenhorn’s argument is that the primary function of marriage in society is generative. As such he believes it vital for the health of society to put the growth needs of children over the rights of individual adults. He argues that there exist two universal ethics in regards to marriage. Those two ethics are the rule of opposites and the rule of sex. He then argues that the rule of sex is inherently procreative. He thus concludes that marriage is primarily about socially approved sexual intercourse, and the protection and nurturing of the fruit of that relationship. Given this premise of the intimate link between marriage and parenting, Blakenhorn argues that changing the definition of marriage will change the definition of parenting. He argues that research has shown that children raised in homes that have a different formula for parenting other than a mother and a father are detrimental to the health and well being of the child. As he eloquently states it:
“every child has the right to a name, a nationality, and a mother and father”.
By deinstitutionalizing marriage, society is forced to deny the double origin of the child. This he contends would cause serious repercussions not only for the individual child but society as a whole.
Blakenhorn is well thought out in his approach. He tries to honestly grapple with the huge ramifications of legalizing homosexual marriages. That said, I see one inherent flaw in his reasoning. That flaw is his fundamental premise that marriage is primarily generative.He presumes a universal sexual ethic in regards to marriage. However, this stance is no longer valid in society today. While it is true that procreation has historically been the primary purpose of marriage, this is not the case today. Previous societies saw the need for reproduction as primary due to the fact that without this emphasis mankind would suffer extinction. However, in today’s world which is over populated to the brink, reproduction is no longer the primary concern of modern society. In fact many sociologists have argued for some form of population control due to the detereoration of resources in the world.
This is why in today’s modern societies there exist no generative stipulations on the social union of marriage. Blakenhorn does not see any inherent risk in straight couples who remain childless. Similarly he seems to allow for sterile couples to reach out of their sexual union to adopt children. Both of these situations stand against the universality of the sexual ethic he proposes.
In fact Blakenhorn has produced six purposes of marriage in society as part of his “Statement of Principles” in 2000. These six purposes of marriage are in order:
1. a legal contract
2. a financial partnership
3. a sacred promise of commitment
4. a sexual union
5. a personal bond of collaborative love
6. and a family-making bond of obligation to care for any kin.
Reading these six purposes it seems hard to find an argument that procreation is the central purpose of a marriage. In fact according to Blakenhorn it is not even in the top five.
Blakenhorn, has stated that these multi-purposes are meant only to describe marriage in a private context. He still asserts that procreation is the primary public purpose of marriage. This, however, is still a position which does not hold with current societal definitions. By seperating a public and private purpose of marriage blakenhorn is left with the position that homosexual marriage has no societal value. This would, however, exclude sterile and childless marriages from having a public purpose as well. Likewise, any arguments for the natural state of sterility could be argued for homosexuality.
In my view, this requires that all six purposes be seen not only as privately valuable, but also valuable to society as a whole.With that in mind, one would be hard pressed to argue that a homosexual marriage can not fulfill the six purposes for marriage that have been presented by Blakenhorn.
A homosexual marriage can benefit the couple with legal advantages which also serve to create a permanent bond; it can create a sense of financial interdependance;it can help the couple to find values; it can elevate sexual cravings into a permanent sign of love; and it can create a deep personal bond between the two people. Homosexual marriages can also serve in the sixth purpose of child rearing in much the same way as a sterile straight couple could. It can also reinforce the role of the family unit much like any straight family that chooses to adopt.
It seems that homosexual marriages serve as no greater a threat to society than many straight sterile couples do. In fact in today’s wildly overpopulated world, homosexual couples can serve a unique purpose in revitalizing society by caring for the uncared for children and providing atmospheres to raise the many children that have already been produced. If Blakenhorn truly wants to affirm the “equal dignity of homosexual love” than it seems that these distinctions must be removed. Hopefully, Blakenhorn and others will see that marriage offers the homosexual community, at no cost to the rest of society, the opportunity to escape a hopeless life of drifting in and out of shifting relationships, much like it has for heterosexual individuals.
Marriage offers permanence and stability, enhanced by the opportunity to share it with children, to all who are allowed to partake in it. This is the value of marriage, and to deny it to the homosexual community is to deny their equality as human beings.