Posted by: tucsonjefe | August 11, 2010

Musings on Homosexual Marriage

I know I am opposed to homosexual marriage.  I have a visceral reaction to the concept because I know that sexual activity with someone of the same sex is sin.  At least in our church, the issue is very clear: Sexual contact between members of the same sex is an abomination.  The questions arise when homosexual marriage is dealt with from a secular, legal perspective.  There’s the rub.  The government is involved in ratifying unions.  Benefits are mandated as a result of these unions. Therefore there must be some set of rules by which these benefits will be apportioned.  Since our nation has historically been Judeo-Christian, the subject has been, until recently, generally ignored.  A marriage is a man and a woman. Indeed, as recently as 1961, homosexual acts were illegal in all 50 states.  It was not until 2003 that the Supreme Court created a new protection of sodomy rights for our nation.

In thinking about the issue, I have to agree with the courts that homosexuals should enjoy equal protection under the law.  If we deem homosexual behavior to be lawful, then it should be governed by the same rules as heterosexual behavior.  Focusing on the sexual practices, however, misses the point of the marriage issue.  Not every couple who have sexual relations wants to be married.  I believe the problem is rooted in the involvement of government in what should be a religious and/or cultural matter.  Why is the government involved in sanctioning marriages at all?  The practice of governmental involvement seems to date back to our old buddy, John Calvin.  He was a firm believer in the combination of church and state. In the 1500’s he and his cronies passed the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva in which they proclaimed “The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage.”  English common law picked it up a couple of centuries later. 

Most of us “moderns” think of marriage in a primarily political sense, as a legal arrangement sanctioned by the state, but performed in church if the person is religious.  For Christians, it ought to be thought of entirely in a spiritual sense.  It is a covenant between a man, a woman, God, and a faith community.  Currently, the state sees itself as having a vested interest in controlling marriage.  Historically, we have thought of the family unit as the basis of our society, something to be encouraged and protected.  We want kids to have homes. We want moms who stay home to raise kids to be cared for.  Illegitimacy and single-parent homes cause a vast number of social problems.  Given the increase in both, it would seem that the government’s interest has not served to encourage monogamous fidelity.  As with most government intrusions, it often has an impact exactly opposite its intention.

My most frequent point of tension with government-controlled marriage has been in cases where the government has made it financially difficult for couples to marry.  A typical case would be in the instance of someone with a disability or pension check of some kind.  They are usually in an age group or physical condition that precludes increased earning capacity.  They form emotional ties with another person and desire to marry and set up a household, sharing responsibilities and expenses under the marriage covenant.  In many instances, if they do this the government changes their status to “married” and suspends their entitlement.  Their choices are cohabitation, celibacy, or insolvency.

The issue for the homosexual crowd seems to be 2-fold.  First, they claim they want their committed cohabitation relationships to be “recognized” by the society at large.  They seem to desire some semblance of acceptability and respectability similar to heterosexual couples.  This is apparently some sort of emotional need for vindication of their lifestyle.  Second, and I think the larger issue, is the desire that the homosexual partners enjoy the practical benefits of marriage.  This would include the ability to inherit, demand alimony, and be included as family for business matters.  It would also impact pensions, insurances, and survivor benefits.

In the respectability arena, I suppose it is possible that our culture is so secular that a significant number may come to think of homosexual couples sympathetically.  In a secular society which is aggressively a-pious there probably must be some contrived accommodation.  Marriage as understood from history and ecclesiology is male and female only.  Anything else is something other than marriage.  The”something other” can be acknowledged by the government if they so desire, and by whatever community of which such a couple may be part. The reality is, however, that for those who see the sexual acts involved as sin there can never be anything beyond than grudging tolerance and polite avoidance. 

The business considerations are, I think, more difficult.  The problem lies in the source of financial subsidies.  I don’t mind if someone wants their same-sex partner to inherit their house or be a recognized visitor at the hospital.  These things are none of my business.  I do mind when the government takes money from me through threat of force (we refer to this as “taxation”) and gives it to someone whose sole claim to it is a “something other” relationship with a person of the same sex.  Now I am being asked to reward and subsidize behavior to which I am morally opposed.  I am obligated by God to decry it as sinful and depraved.  How can the government which cannot impinge on my religious beliefs require me to pay for such offences to my faith?

Whenever government is involved, they inevitably control and mismanage.  This is true in the regulation and definition of marriage as a societal institution.   Could it be time to expel government from the marriage bed entirely?  Do away with government licensure and substitute legally binding contractual agreements for determining the parameters of individual commitments. Why not do away with all government-subsidized marital benefits? Let’s make every entitlement individual.  How about recognizing the role of “homemaker” as a job, assigning a value to it as a percentage of household income, then basing individual benefits on that figure?  Can’t we enforce paternal and maternal financial obligation on all who decide to bring children into the world?  You made them, you support them.  As long as the government is the arbiter of what constitutes a marriage and of who gets paid, there will be battles to be fought. 




  1. When same sex couples are seeking for equal rights, whatever they may be the litmus test should be to produce a child. Never have I heard this requirement put forward.

  2. Totally agree.

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