It was one of the more awkward moments in the presidential campaign. Senator John McCain was appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and she was asking why McCain did not support same-sex “marriage.” A well-prepared DeGeneres made the usual arguments about inclusiveness, and compared those who reject same-sex “marriage” to those who once refused to allow women or blacks to vote. It was all about fairness, she said.
McCain’s response? “I just believe in the status of a marriage between a man and a woman . . . We just have a disagreement.”
Maybe, given the sensitivity of the situation, that was the best answer Senator McCain could come up with. But suppose the senator and Ms. DeGeneres could talk backstage, away from the glare of TV lights. What could he say to seize the moral high ground? To start, he could discuss the true meaning and purpose of marriage.
In his book, The Clash of Orthodoxies, Princeton professor Robert George writes that matrimonial law reflects a moral judgment. That judgment is that marriage is inherently heterosexual, monogamous, and permanent-a union of one man and one woman. This judgment is based on both the biblical and natural law understandings-that marriage is a two-in-one flesh communion of persons. This communion is consummated and actualized sexually.
That is, marriage is made real by acts that are reproductive, whether or not these acts result in children. They unite the spouses as a single procreative unit. This organic unity is achieved even by infertile couples. Only a mated pair can be a complete organism capable of human procreation.
By contrast, homosexual acts cannot be procreative and cannot unite people organically. As a result, these acts cannot be marital, which means relationships integrated around them cannot be marriages. In other words, same-sex partners are physically incapable of marriage; it takes a man and a woman to become “one flesh.”
I can already hear the arguments your secular neighbors will make: “Okay,” they will say, “that’s your definition of marriage. But why should your views be imposed on everybody else?”
That is when we have to be ready with additional, non-religious arguments for traditional marriage. For instance, if we expand the meaning of marriage to include same-sex partnerships, on what grounds could we legitimately oppose marriages between three or more people? Or weddings between siblings?
Remember, we are not just defending the Christian view of marriage. Since the beginning of recorded history, virtually every society and every major religion has revered and protected traditional marriage. Why? It is the institution that produces, nurtures, protects, and civilizes children. And marriage is the cornerstone of society’s foundational institution: the family.
If the proponents of same-sex “marriage” succeed in foisting it on America, marriage itself would be reduced to nothing more than a legal contract between two (or more!) people. True marriage would be abolished, and the damage to our society would be incalculable.
These are the arguments we all need to learn to defend traditional, true marriage, particularly in those states where constitutional amendments are on the ballot this fall.