We have a sort-of controversial opinion that I wanted to put forth today. And I know there are going to be people who disagree with me very strongly about this, but here in America, we keep having referenda in one state after another about gay marriage. Should gay marriage be legalized here or there?
In fact, anytime it has come up for a vote, it tends to fail. Where it has been passed, it’s usually the courts, the judiciary, have sort of imposed it. There seems to be a lot of strong public opinion against gay marriage, and I do think that that should be respected. I’m looking forward to seeing democracy prevail in this area, as it should in all areas.
But for me personally, I don’t think that gay marriage is as big a threat as a lot of people; a lot of my friends think that it is. I just don’t think that it’s going to cause, even if it was legal all over the country, that much harm.
Here’s my reason. For one thing, people are not going to change their behavior. People are already having gay sex. This is not about whether or not gay relationships are going to be okay. It’s just, will they be able to have a marriage certificate? That is not going to have much of a change on behavior I believe.
For example, when I was in college in the early ‘70s, it was the age of the hippies, sexual revolution, and all of that. Making it socially acceptable to smoke dope meant that a lot of people started smoking dope. And the sexual revolution making promiscuity socially acceptable meant that a lot of people that otherwise would have remained virgins went ahead and started having sexual relationships.
If you make it okay for people to have gay sex, I just don’t think you’re going to see millions of people flocking in and starting to have gay sex because now it’s okay. Actually, heterosexuality is a really, really strong urge. If you doubt that, you can look at advertising. Every once in a while, they actually use sex to sell a product.
This is such a strong urge that even saying to gays that “It’s okay. We recognize it. You’re there. It’s not a shock anymore.” Even making it legally possible for them to get married, I don’t think that’s going to cause more gay behavior than we have now. In fact, when the talk about gay marriage first started coming out, I remember seeing a cartoon in The New Yorker where two men were talking at a party and they’ve just met. And one of them says, “Are you in favor of gay marriage?” And the other says, “Of course I am. I’m a divorce lawyer.”
I think that may be one of the biggest areas we see impacted is now we’ll have gay divorces and gay arguments over custody and so forth. I think that there probably are some people that in an earlier generation would have struggled all their lives to remain chaste that are now going to find the temptation to go ahead and have gay sex a lot harder to resist, because they don’t have the culture backing them up and encouraging them to resist.
Definitely there will be some of that, but it’s just not going to be the landslide that it was when the sexual revolution made premarital, heterosexual sex completely acceptable all the time. I don’t think gay marriage is really going to have that much impact. I know there are people, and they are people that I respect and friends of mine, who say, “It will destroy the concept of marriage and that marriage needs to be one man and one woman. And if it isn’t that; if it can be homosexual, then it undermines the concept.” I just don’t think so.
I think there is always going to be a Darwinian evolutionary purpose in heterosexual marriage; a biological basis and meaning of heterosexual marriage that homosexual marriage will just never have. The two biggest tasks that mammals have is stay alive and reproduce—eat and find shelter and protect your life and defend your life and reproduce. That is such a strong drive that heterosexual marriage will always have just a different complexion.
It will just seem different, and it will never be seen that gay marriage is the same thing. It will always be a different thing; an analogous thing. People are just going to know. It’s like no matter how hard the pro-choice lobby tried to make people talk about the fetus, they still say baby. You can’t stop people from talking about the unborn baby. You know. When is your baby due? In April. That’s the kind of thing where there’s just a biological truth there that cannot be overcome.
And I think that’s true about straight marriage too. Straight marriage will always look different. And it may be that it will always look like the real thing, and gay marriage will always look like this sort of odd variation. But it won’t be truly, deeply the real thing.
It’s always seemed to me that complaining that gay marriage is going to destroy straight marriage is locking the barn after the horse got out. Because the thing that has done so much damage to straight marriage is the sexual revolution and promiscuity and divorce and pornification of our culture; the advent of soft-core porn in almost every kind of category there could be.
I was driving with my daughter down I-95 once, and there was a billboard for a gentlemen’s club. And she said, “Do you know what threatens my marriage? That threatens my marriage!” And I think that’s true. We put up with a lot of heavy sexual innuendo in our culture, and that is what is disturbing to marriages.
And I have known, and probably you have to, marriages that foundered because the husband became so addicted to internet porn. These are the things that are damaging marriage. I just don’t think that gay marriage is going to have that much of an effect, because for one thing nobody’s behavior will change. Gay relationships are already legal. People are not restraining because they are waiting for marriage. I think there are reasons that straight marriage will always be understood – fundamentally, organically understood – as something different.
What will improve things? What will protect marriage? I think that women have been disempowered by the advent of the sexual revolution and promiscuity. They almost are not given permission to wait until marriage anymore. There’s a lot of pressure on them. I think what will change things is when women begin to feel that they no longer want to go along with that anymore.
It’s a change that will have to come from women—from women choosing not to participate in promiscuity and defending their right to protect their bodies. Protect your body from it being used in a way that you don’t really want. They will have to refuse to accept that as the cost of having an emotional relationship with someone. They will have to try to get things back in order again so that women will have the protection that they want.
I think that it’s an ironic thing that in the midst of the feminist moving arising in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as women were gaining power in the marketplace and the workplace, they lost all the power in the bedroom. They just totally lost all their power there. It’s hard for them to get anything from men in return for giving their bodies away. I think that with time we’ll see the pendulum swing back. It’s kind of one of my hobby horses that I talk about is the way that a culture will change.
And the example I always use is that if you look at mid-century movies you see a lot more celebration of alcoholism than you see today. And alcoholism is something that’s treated as funny and fashionable. Heavy, heavy drinking to the point of passing out is seen as daring and countercultural, and you’re just being such a radical kind of person there. Anybody that disapproves of extreme drinking is a prude.
But that changed, because people could no longer avoid seeing how much damage alcohol was causing. And I think the same thing will happen. With time, women will once again find their voice and say, promiscuity is causing too much damage and I’m not going along with it anymore. I think it will change. I think it has to happen so organically and come up naturally within a culture. I don’t think you can engineer it.
But that is the thing that is the threat to marriage, not gay marriage. I really don’t think that gay marriage does that much harm. Sometimes I think that the false step was that conservatives and Christians in America went from protesting abortion, which is an extremely important cause and is a civil rights issue in which human lives are being lost and people are being killed. Little tiny people are being killed at the rate of 3500 a day. That’s very serious.
And when public attention drifted and they didn’t want to hear about abortion anymore, they wanted a new controversy. They landed on gay rights. I think that Christians and conservatives took the same attitude, the same drive, the same media know how, and put it on this new focus. But it’s not at all the same issue.
Abortion is a matter of life and death, and gay rights is not. We who are Christians understand that there is a very grievous spiritual danger in any kind of sin and in this as much as any other. We’re not going to minimize that. But it is pointless to talk with somebody else about the damage caused by sin if they don’t share that foundation or groundwork with you.
The problem with the dialogue about gay behavior in America is that we need to talk about Jesus first. We need to talk about sin and salvation and the Cross and the Resurrection and the next life and all those things. You have to get your conversation partner, if not agreeing with you, at least understanding what the realm is that you are talking about. Otherwise, it’s a pointless conversation.
For Christians just to say, “You’re gay. You’re going to hell,” that’s meaningless. In fact, it’s stimulating and thrilling to them to be told, “You’re daring. You’re on the edge. You’re being a rebellious person. I’m a prude and frowning and I’m all displeased and huffy, because you’re being so daring.”
We just fit right into that whole stereotype there. It’s not helping. It hurts. I just am not interested in trying to say scolding things about homosexuality, because it’s so pointless. The first conversation would have to be about faith. And if they don’t share that with you, then they’re not going to understand anything else you have to say.
So I’m not minimizing that any kind of sin damages our life in Christ. And life in Christ is the only life there is, and this is very important. Homosexual sin as much as any other sin. It is important. But we can’t target that by making gay marriage impossible, saying, “Well, you can have unmarried relations as much as you want, but you just can’t get married.” That is not going to accomplish anything.
I understand what some of my friends say when they feel that gay marriage in and of itself is a damaging thing. I just think maybe it isn’t. I think it’s something that won’t cause that much harm if it comes to pass. As I started out saying, it looks like wherever it comes up for a vote, it isn’t passing. So I’m just going to sit back and keep watching that.