BreakPoint Blog

Prop. 8 Did Not Ban Gay 'Marriage'
Rating: 2.50
Topics: Apologetics

(Manhattan Declaration) - After hearing about Judge Vaughn R. Walker striking down the Proposition 8 referendum in California, which became a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, many Christians and people of a cultural orthodox belief are discouraged that the voice of the people was rejected.  Justice Walker cited the 14th Amendment, specifically the Equal Protection Clause, in his reasoning, though he seems to be more concerned with pandering to the gay lobby than following the Constitution.

The problem with both the judge’s ruling and most pro-gay commentary you will read is this: Proposition 8 did not ban gay marriage.  To say that gay “marriage” was banned because the term’s definition did not allow for gay marriage is logically untrue.  Marriage has not, and never will, be a bond between two people of the same-sex.  All the people of California did was uphold the traditional definition of marriage “not only since America's founding but for millennia,” as stated by Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council and Manhattan Declaration signer, in a press release.

The term “gay marriage” is a logical contradiction.  First, homosexuality is not a legitimate lifestyle, even though many are forcing the issue.  Secondly, to be gay inherently means you cannot be married because you lack a natural bond with your partner.  Marriage is supposed to be procreative and express a conjugal, permanent love that is only expressed when two people are complimentary in both body and soul.  Men and women can share in procreation and conjugal love, but homosexuals cannot.  “Gay Marriage” is as illogical as a 4-cornered triangle, since the definition of one negates the possibility of the other.

Beyond the legal and Constitutional battle we are facing, a cultural battle is stirring in which our culture is buying into a lie.  This lie teaches that the only thing necessary for marriage is love; and perhaps even commitment (but with the advent of no-fault divorce and pre-nuptial agreements, even commitment is less necessary)

Deacon Keith Fournier wrote in a Catholic Online editorial, “The proponents of this New Cultural Revolution demand a legal equivalency between homosexual relationships and true marriages. In their zeal some believe they are fashioning a better world. They reject the truth concerning marriage, the implications on children, the structure of society and the real common good. Authentic marriage, and the family and society founded upon it, are the foundation of a free society. This is not only a ‘religious’ position, it is accepted across cultures and has informed Western Civilization. It is affirmed by the Natural law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason.”

If we learn anything from this tragic decision from yet another leftist judge is this: do not buy into liberalized religious definitions.  Marriage rejects homosexual relationships by their very nature.  Whether these marriages become legalized or not does not mean they have any validity within the Church or within a legal system of ethics and reason.  

Racial prejudice was once a legal norm and Christians led the charge in riding our culture of it.  Assuming the Supreme Court upholds Justice Walker’s decision, we should work to end this legalized injustice as well.


For David,
I understand what you're saying, that the real argument here is the legal legitimacy of gay marriage. But I'm making a whole different point. What I'm saying, is that why do we assume that we must resort to a legal argument, when the source of this debate is in ethics and natural law?

You wrongly assert that I think of gay marriage as a contradiction in terms because of a moral belief. In fact, gay marriage is contradictory by appealing to reason. Reason alone can show us the contradictory and antithetical nature of gay marriage.

This is an important point, because you go on to say that my argument "is founded on intuition and personal feelings or experiences." This is wrong. Natural law has more to do with reason, which is accessible to all people and does not rely on subjectivity. Natural Law is the universal system that people who are able to suppress emotion long enough to think rationally are able to comprehend.

The judge in this case is the one who was thinking according to his personal disposition, rather than with reason. He offered no substantiation for his belief that marriage is a fundamental right and should be shared with virtually anyone. One gay marriage campaign's slogan reads, "Love + Commitment= Marriage." Since men and women, young and old are able to love and commit, grown men and young girls can can two 10-year-olds, etc. Sounds like this ruling is less palatable the more we use REASON to dissect it.

I did not cherry-pick my notions (first, how can you select subjective thoughts?), rather I added to the plethora of arguments out there. Everyone is speaking about the illegitimacy of the legal argument BECAUSE of this ruling's abandonment of Natural Law and reason (just read anything Dr. Robert George has written or said on the matter and you'll understand what I mean).

We need to take a step back and see what about reason and Natural Law tell us that homosexuality is a legitimate, good thing that should be legally sanctioned? The burden is on you, not me.
A couple criticisms:

The basis of this piece seems somewhat bizarre. Prop 8 DID ban gay marriage from a legal standpoint, which is what is at stake here; this ban has been overturned by the ruling. California, prior to the passage of prop 8, established the legal legitimacy of gay marriage. I understand that you are making a normative argument about marriage, but the real question at this point must be legal practice. The law addresses the civic end of marriage, which carries numerous social, political, and economic benefits. Churches are free to perform or deny services to whomsoever they choose.
So let's address the normative argument. You want to establish that gay marriage is a contradiction in terms; your argument, however, is based simply on the assertion that it is morally wrong and does not extend beyond that belief. You also cite a vague abstraction of "natural"-ness. The argument, then, is founded on intuition and personal feelings or experiences, on extending your own automatic response into a normative claim. I always wonder, when people cite naturalness, if they are cognizant that other people’s experiences differ from their own. As a heterosexual male, I want you for a moment to imagine deeply kissing another man – it feels revolting, right? And kissing a woman, pleasurable? These responses, however, only justify a positive claim about oneself and not a normative claim about nature; trying to establish a normative claim substantiates to trying to justify oneself and find security in one’s connection with the mankind. It is tempting and appealing – it feels like God, like a link between kindred souls worldwide. Now, when you imagine that this is not the case, that your experience is not universal, it feels isolating and alone – and so instead you imagine that the opposite simply cannot exist, that homosexuality is a choice and not endowed by the Creator.
This is a cowardly belief. The onus is not on God to create a world of people identical to you with identical experiences. Inter-subjectivity, not automatic personal beliefs, reveal the divine light.
As others have noted, you’ve cherry-picked your notions of true and traditional marriage, based again it seems on personal intuition, rather than historical fact and dressed them up as such.
Nice post Chris K.
You bring up some excellent comments. Some are great counter-points to flawed arguments that J. Budziszewski has posed, and have been cited on Breakpoint.

I believe there are answers to your questions. It's important not to give incorrect or weak ones.
Yes, race used to play quite a role in society's view of marriage. But within marriage itself? As one of the natural functions at the heart of marriage that helped to form a family?

I don't recall saying that homosexuals *couldn't* have sex.
Billy, you're already setting up your argument based on the existence of God, the inerrancy of the Bible, and the idea that sex and marriage are primarily about procreation. Catholics may accept these, but Protestants don't accept the third one, and other people disagree with other parts. These ideas are not very helpful for setting secular policies.

But even if we accept those, I can't follow your argument:
You say that God can work within nature, but can't make two men or two women (or one woman?) get pregnant. But can't God do anything?
Matt 19:26 "With God, all things are possible".

Natural pregnancy after menopause is, for all intents and purposes, impossible. It requires a miracle, as a post-menopausal woman no longer produces eggs. For that matter, women who are on the pill are thousands of times more likely to get pregnant than a woman after menopause.. hm.

So I can't see how procreation could be part of God's design for post-menopausal women. Ergo, no marriage for them.
"Likewise, the definition of "family" used to be very patriarchal and authoritarian, where the wife(s) was the legal property of the husband."

Actually, that was rather rare. The only people who are "legal property" in the strict definition are chattels. While at times "property of her husband" was a good metaphor, "legal property" doesn't cut it.

You are probably referring to the old time dynastic or tribal families. In those, the family is a corporation, everyone is an asset and the grandpa is CEO. In those kind of families both the husband and wife are at the bidding of the tribe.
Addressing sterility
The issue has come up a come times regarding this post: can sterile people get married? Yes. The reason is because God can work within nature to make things happen that otherwise seem unlikely, like make an infertile womb fertile (He did this with Elizabeth). But God did not design the world such that two men can EVER have children--and the same goes for two women, obviously. It doesn't merely defy the odds, rather it's impossible.

A man with a low sperm count can still have children, though the likelihood might be slim. Even if there is no sperm count, the possibility of a revived count should not be dismissed because God can, and does, work within the natural order.

Given Scripture's strict condemnation of the homosexual act, we should not condone it as a viable form of conjugal love, and therefore homosexuality shouldn't be viewed as a marriage option either.

So, to be very clear, sterility does not bear negatively on marriage because there is still the possibility of procreation. I hope that helps.
Yes.. and no.
Billy, the definition of marriage may not change with whether it is for love, familial gain, or politics - but certainly the modern Western definition of marriage includes two consenting adults. If the male and female are not consenting or of legal age (or have parents' permission, in some states), then it's not a marriage. In contrast, we can look at Old Testament-era examples of men capturing women to take as their wives. Or, in other countries even today, we see adolescent girls being married to men.

Likewise, the definition of "family" used to be very patriarchal and authoritarian, where the wife(s) was the legal property of the husband. Obviously this is different today, as families may or may not be patriarchal.

Or, again, our country doesn't recognize polygamous marriages. And in Europe in the 1500s-1800s, marriages weren't recognized unless they were both public and religious. Or, the marriage of a divorcee was not recognized in Catholic countries.

At various times throughout history, marrying someone of a different race, religion, or culture could get you disowned, if the marriage was even recognized.

Procreation isn't part of the definition of marriage, but just, as you put it, an "instance". We have absolutely no restriction on sterile men or women marrying. Sure, God could use a miracle to make a post-menopausal woman conceive, but He can likewise make unmarried virgin conceive - or undoubtedly, He could do it to a male.

But a bigger part is that, since the founding of our country, people get married for all sorts of primary reasons other than procreation. Some even do their best to remove any possibility for procreation, and there has never been any legal discrimination against them. How can you use this as a basis to start discriminating against homosexuals - and *only* homosexuals?
Same sex marriage
I am a female Christian in a wonderful 39 year marriage and have been blessed with 3 children. I believe that this is smiled upon by God. This follows traditional definitions of conjugal love, committment and procreation.
I know other both Christian and legal marriages that seem to be supported by society and even religions but by choice produce or adopt no offspring yet society honors that and they are allowed to be married. Or older heterosexuals get married when the child bearing years are over. The question I have not seen discussed is how are these childless heterosexual marriages in God's plan or what do they offer to society in their committed conjugal love without procreation?
If we assume that God created homosexuals with different bilogical urges or for that matter cross genders, changed gender,etc. then why is would a union between them be different than a heterosexual marriage with out procreation? What is the essence of marriage? In both the Biblical and world view? I wish we would focus more on heterosexual marriage and what's that all about than focusing on same sex marriage or union or whatever.
Some Hispanic cultures don't marry until they have children. Permanence is important for the children and thus societal benfits as well as God's graces and blessings. What I am saying gis a bit radical but I think we need to change the questions for discussions because we arent' getting anywhere on both sides.I don't know the answer but just sticking to literal words in the Bible isn't working. In biblical times , for example, hormones weren't fully understand.
For example, assume a lesbian or gay relationship lovingly brings up a child. How can that be compared to "selfish" childless heterosexual couples?
Why as a society do we offfer benefits to childless couples?
I pray that we can all come to a place where we highly respect and value "traditional" marriage and yet enter a dialogue with the "other side" to be examples and not just opposers to other people ideas. If our marriges were better examples of Christian living we wouldn't have such issues. AS we know you can't change others-we can only change ourselves. We need to love others, not judge others and be a wonderful example of Christian life.
I am not saying I am comfortable with same sex marriage and I don't view it as the same as the traditional marrige I have been blessed with, but then neither do I think what I have is the same as a childless heterosexual marriage. I answer to God and I cannot judge others.
Ben W.
Ben, you're not showing when there were changes in the "definition" of marriage, rather you are showing changes in the "instances" of marriage. The def. of marriage has been consistent.

When was procreation, or at least the openness to, not a priority in marriage? That's simply false. Marriage obviously has other implications (i.e. Theology of the Body), but procreation is built into marriage, and is one reason why the one man, one woman element of marriage is vital. Without opposite sexes getting married, we cease to exist, which is a natural argument for traditional marriage.

Thanks for your reply, and I agree -- challenging debate is (or at least can be) a very healthy thing.

I'm not buying into the assumption that the definition of marriage is flexible; on the contrary, I agree with you that it should not be (hmm...with some reservation, which I'll touch on in a moment). Rather, I'm pointing out that, as I see it, the progressive position acknowledges past precedent and asks if things can now be more flexible. Your reply here doesn't say "No, and here's why", but says instead "Your question doesn't make sense because of how it's always been." You're trying to stand on a foundation (the definition of marriage) that is itself the thing that is called into question. From the standpoint of formal logic, that simply doesn't work.

My hesitation on how solid the definition of marriage really is comes from the realization that the institution itself has actually undergone a bit of change over the course of a few thousand years and across various cultures. Issues like polygamy, arranged marriages, and child brides have all been culturally established only to later be called into question and gradually modified. You may wish to point out that even with any and all of those in place the marriage was still between male and female, to which I would reply in two ways. First, the gay marriage proponent would declare the weight of one difference over the other to be an arbitrary distinction, for which I'm afraid you would have no stronger a reply than "I disagree". Secondly, I would ask if you then would rather we were debating the merits of re-normalizing consensual polygamy (man and woman, very procreative, potentially strong family structure, etc) instead of normalizing gay marriage.

- Joel
Billy - the definitions of "marriage" and "family" have indeed changed over the millennia.

Marriage has been:
- for political reasons, or for love
- for life, or allowing divorce
- between consenting adults, or non-consenting adults, or even between not-consenting not-adults
- sometimes a civil and/or religious ceremony, often not
- sometimes only between members of same race, religion, or nationality
- monogamous, other times polygamous
- allowing mistresses, or not
- between equals, but more often the husband had authority over or owned the wife

And for quite some time, "procreation" has not been an important part of what constitutes a legal marriage. (Procreation is important socially, but not part of what defines a marriage).

We've changed the definition of marriage countless times. Some of those changes - such as the idea of free choice and equal rights for both parties - were pretty big. Why is this time different?
Getting to the root of the issue
This article takes the discussion in exactly the right direction. The answer to the question, "where does the definition of marriage come from?" is the same as the answer to the question "where do our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come from?".

By appealing to "Nature and Nature's God" we are pointing to principles and truths that are even more fundamental than government and constitutionality. False imprisonment does not destroy the right to freedom; neither can a judge redefine marriage though he tries.

Truth is a rock; you cannot break it, but you can break yourself upon it. The same applies to individuals and nations.
I appreciate your thoughts, but it's flawed and overly simplistic. You've also missed my central point.

You're addressing whether or not definition X could be expanded to include Y. I'm saying that we should take a step back and determine whether or not there is proper principle in place for Y to be included in X's definition, and I also ask, does Y logically and naturally contradict X? I say 'no' to the former and 'yes' to the later.

Also, Mr. Colson's comments about constitutionality, due process, and judicial activism are certainly strong arguments. I don't disagree with them, but they are a separate point from what I'm saying. I'm saying that marriage is a pre-political institution and existed before the constitution or political structures. The family is the foundation of society and culture, and therefore politics as well. Because it is pre-political, it's definition is not contingent on a judge's ruling.

You seem to buy into the assumption that the definition of marriage as a conjugal union between one man and one woman is a flexible, alterable definition. You seem to be buying into the cultural lie I'm talking about--or at least considering it.

Thanks for reading and getting in the game. This kind of debate amongst people who agree on the conclusion is very healthy--so thanks!

Unsound argument
Let me preface this by saying that by and large I'm on your side of this issue, so please don't take this as a generalized attack on your position. Rather, I'm replying from the position of wanting to encourage more thorough thinking and reasoning than I see at work here.

There's a logical fallacy at play in your argument that isn't quite "begging the question", but I don't have the name handy. In short, you're saying "Marriage is defined as X, therefore Y doesn't make sense" when the entire question is whether to broaden X to include Y. That's the whole argument, the whole point. Yes, historically humanity has defined marriage as heterosexual and procreational, but what they're trying to do is broaden the culturally-accepted definition of marriage in order to gain broad legal, economic, and (most importantly to them) cultural legitimacy for their lifestyle. In effect, your stance here is akin to saying you always have eggs and bacon for breakfast, so the possibility of having Cheerios instead is a logical contradiction. Hopefully I don't have to expound on how that comes across.

One of the biggest problems I have with a piece like this is that even though it's internally focused ("rally the troops", so to speak), its content is ripe for regurgitated talking points by folks who agree philosophically but don't have the time or inclination to fully wrestle with the depths and nuances of the issue. They'll take points like this, use them in an argument with someone on the opposing side, and promptly get ripped to shreds.

If you're trying to drum up grassroots action, you need to give people solid tools to use out there. Colson's comments about constitutionality, due process of majority of voters, and judicial activism are much stronger responses and therefore tools. This one needs some rethinking.

- Joel