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In the previous blog, I addressed the common claim that rejecting homosexual marriage is an act of hatred towards LGBT individuals by discussing the differences between Christian love and the love that is commonly expressed in our culture. In particular, we addressed how Christian love possesses extraordinary compassion while also possessing zeal for God’s truth. Today, I want to address the fourth objection when Christians talk about this topic: the claim of inequality. This argument can be paraphrased as follows:

Most people know openly gay people and couples that we love and it is very difficult not to celebrate equality and fairness for them, whether it clicks with the Bible or not. We know that some people are gay and those folks want to marry and now they can. It would be very difficult for me to not to be happy for someone who has legal rights to their happiness through marriage as a result of the SCOTUS decision.

I think that there are three basic responses to this claim.

Begging the Question

Most individuals who advocate for marriage equality with regards to homosexual marriage recognize that part of their argument is based on the nature of marriage itself. In particular, many would claim that marriage equality is an expansion of the definition of marriage, rather than a redefinition of marriage. Thus, in this view, arguing against marriage equality would be a violation of fundamental rights and basic civil liberties. However, this line of reasoning is associated with the fallacy of begging the question because they have already assumed a re-defined definition of marriage in their definition.

The question that should be asked is whether or not the previous law is inherently discriminatory against homosexuals. The answer to this question has always been no. There has never been any law which states that if one is attracted to members of his own sex, he cannot get married. This should be repeated for emphasis: homosexuals were never barred from marriage. Rather than being legally barred, it is more accurate to say that they must follow the same definitional parameters as every other marriage in society. This means that by definition, the previous law was never discriminatory against homosexuals. In order to argue discrimination, one has to already assume a redefinition of the nature of marriage to demonstrate his case.

This argument has been admitted before and it continues to be ignored. For evidence of this, consider this statement from the Iowa Supreme Court in regards to same-sex marriage

….It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex. Viewed in the complete context of marriage, including intimacy, civil marriage with a person of the opposite sex is as unappealing to a gay or lesbian person as civil marriage with a person of the same sex is to a heterosexual. Thus, the right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all… .By purposefully placing civil marriage outside the realistic reach of gay and lesbian individuals, the ban on same-sex civil marriages differentiates implicitly on the basis of sexual orientation. [Emphasis mine]

The first sentence should be the end of the discussion as far as matters of discrimination goes because it admits that there is no inherent discrimination. However, that logical argument is ignored because it is “unappealing” for homosexuals. In other words, homosexuals do not want to exercise this right as it currently exists. Moreover, if it is considered “unappealing”, this means that it is “no right at all”. The discussion has moved from a logical argument to an emotional appeal. At this point, we can analyze the logic of this argument as follows:

Premise 1: Homosexuals have the right to marry

Premise 2: They do not desire to exercise the right as it currently exists

Conclusion: Therefore, they do not have the right, and the law must be changed.

Is this a valid argument? Do rights no longer exist if we find them unappealing and can we create new rights by federal edict? This leads to the second response to this matter.

Legal Argumentation and Precedent

It’s important to remember that not only do legal decisions produce legal precedent, but also lines of argumentation helps to produce legal precedent. There have been numerous articles which seek to demonstrate that the acceptance of homosexual marriage will not lead to the legalization of other deviant forms of sexual activity. While the slippery slope argument in and of itself is considered a logical fallacy (especially while ignoring possible mitigating factors), we can look into the immediate future to predict what will happen in the future.

Let’s suppose we change the first premise in the former argument to something that is currently non-controversial:

Premise 1: Polygamists have the right to marry

Premise 2: They do not desire to exercise the right as it currently exists

Conclusion: Therefore, they do not have the right, and the law must be changed.

As mentioned above, there are numerous articles which seek to demonstrate how homosexual marriage is categorically different than polygamy, but all of them use argumentation that is completely different than the courts. None of them use the argumentation that has been presented by the courts as an argument against other sexually deviant practices. Up until now, the courts (and the popular arguments) have all argued that homosexual marriage should be legal because marriage is chiefly about love between consenting adults. Why doesn’t this argument apply to all sexual relationships involving fully consenting adults, as some advocates have argued?

On the blog Full Marriage Equality, the webmaster argues for full marriage equality which means “that society and all local, state, federal, and international laws, institutions, and programs should recognize any marriage registered by any persons without restrictions on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.” Based on the logic of the courts, why shouldn’t this definition be applied? Why shouldn’t the global definition of marriage be redefined as “the uniting of consenting individuals in a witnessed ceremony” according to the logic of the courts? If the logic of the courts cannot refute this, then there are legitimate concerns regarding legal precedent in these matters.

Currently, the major difference between LGBT acceptance and the acceptance of polygamy and polyamory would be the media campaign. What if we were flooded with polygamous-related advertising presented to us in the least offensive fashion possible? What if polygamous-related campaigns argued that polygamous families are healthier because “it takes a village to raise a child”? What if movies and sitcoms began to depict polygamous/polyamorous couples who lived normal lives and were not from the state of Utah? What if polygamous/polyamorous couples had ad campaigns which stated that “love knows no boundaries”? What if opposition to polygamy and polyamory was treated today in the same way as opposition to homosexuality is treated? If all of these conditions held, would the logic of the courts still hold and be extended to polygamous/polyamorous couples?

True Liberty

Finally, there is a significant moral element to discussion and it is related to our definitions of freedom and liberty. Today, freedom and liberty are usually contrasted with restraint; in other words, freedom today means that we are no longer bound to cultural, social, or traditional restraints. The modern conception is that liberty is constituted by the removal of obstacles, by the overcoming of limits, and by the transformation of the world – whether the world of nature or the nature of humanity itself. This type of freedom is grounded in our basic belief in human autonomy. From this definition of freedom, we develop our concept of rights, which give us legal protections against anything that attempts to impinge upon our human autonomy.

In many ways, this definition of freedom and liberty is antithetical to true Christian liberty. In a Christian worldview, freedom and liberty are usually contrasted with enslavement of sin. Older generations recognized that a unique feature of man was his capacity for liberty (i.e. the ability to choose, the consciously direct, and order his life). However, this liberty was subject to misuse and excess, as demonstrated throughout the Biblical record. Moreover, this liberty exist within God’s created world. Thus, to understand ourselves is to understand how to use our liberty well, especially how to govern appetites that seem insatiable. Moreover, to submit to these appetites would result in the loss of our liberty and reflect our enslavement to our desire. Hence, Christian liberty is not a process towards liberation, but rather a cultivation of self-restraint.

How does this apply to the homosexual marriage argument? Well, the argument today is that we are expanding the definition of marriage to include homosexuals and thus, this is an issue of fairness and equality. Moreover, natural conditions – such as those inescapably linked to the biological facts of human sexuality – are to be regarded as “socially constructed”. Our response to this is that matters of fairness and equality presuppose an objective standard for man and that this state of man exists within the objective moral structure created by God. This moral structure cannot be manipulated and we ignore it to our peril. At the end of this path of sexual liberation lies enslavement. Without mastery over these desires, we will be eternally driven by them, never satisfied by their attainment. Consider the words of Paul in Titus 3:3-7:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.