Why same sex marriage is nothing like interracial marriage

Gay marriage is not anything like inter-racial marriage. Any resemblance is superficial at most.

I admit that it must be a tempting comparison, but it’s an illusion.

Let me explain.

Let’s look at a working definition of marriage from the Judeo-Christian tradition, which would have been the assumed definition for the vast majority of Americans at the time that the ban on inter-racial marriage was struck down.

There’s probably no better place to look than in Matthew 19 where Christ affirms Genesis 2:  a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

 That ought to be familiar to most Americans, certainly anyone who takes their faith even half-way seriously. In this formula of sorts for the prevailing idea of marriage, we see “leaving father and mother”, which implies you don’t marry your sister. So that’s one restriction. Then we have “be joined to his wife” which pretty much implies “no men marrying other men” and no polygamy. And finally we have “they become one flesh”, which ideally points to a permanent union, which most people who enter into marriage at least aspire to.

Notice: there is nothing about the respective races of either spouse. It was never a part of the proper understanding of marriage. Ever. The folks that attempted to forbid inter-racial marriage were indeed bigots. Their tampering with the definition of marriage to suit their prejudices revealed their agenda — and their lack of respect for the essentials of marriage as understood for centuries.

Now we have another attempt to tamper with the definition of marriage, but this time it is not in the direction of arbitrarily restricting who can marry in a naked attempt to suit one’s prejudices. It’s in the opposite direction of redefining marriage to become something so broad that it threatens to define it into unrecognizability with respect to civilization’s historical understanding. This time, though, the people who would argue in favor of retaining the standing definition of marriage have been now likened to the racists of yesteryear.

This is simply wrong. There is no sudden nor long-standing ill will toward people of same-sex attraction. Yes, many of these people of faith consider homosexual acts immoral, but in relation to marriage itself, people of faith are not debating anything on the grounds of morality per se, but on the nature of a thing to be what it is and has been. No less than anyone who was rightly convinced that restricting marriage between the races likewise did violence to the nature of marriage. It’s certainly probable that the bigots of yesterday appealed to a false sense of morality, but they were wrong not merely in their warped premises of morality, but also at least as much in their very idea of what the nature of marriage is and the true definitional restrictions that help to identify where a valid marriage takes place.

If one does not consider himself a member of a Judeo-Christian tradition, and might perhaps even long for the ever more trendy “post-Christian” society, these considerations will have little persuasive impact. But for a person of faith, there is no need to buckle under accusations of bigotry if one is inclined to maintain an understanding of marriage consistent with the words of Christ — and with the last 2,000-plus years of Western civilization.


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