The marriage argument that conservatives are no longer allowed to make
If you’re actually reading this article, I’ll be surprised. Because it’s about homosexuality, and when it comes to arguing about homosexuality, the ground rules are different for conservatives and liberals. Strangely enough, we’ve gotten to a point where liberals are allowed to use reason, and conservatives are not — even in conservative publications.
Here’s how it works. When gay activists go after Christians and a place like Chick-fil-A, which supports traditional marriage, they make an argument that strikes right at the heart of the Bible. They argue, as Noah Michelson recently did in The Huffington Post, that,
For some reason this country still thinks that it’s OK to treat [homosexuals] like we are, at best, just not quite as worthy to have all the rights afforded straight or cis-gendered people or, at worst, just plain evil. Many of these statements are bolstered by religious arguments using the Bible as ammunition, but, as it’s been pointed out time and again, the Bible demands we do or don’t do a lot of things that we no longer do or don’t do (like that we should own slaves and we shouldn’t eat popcorn shrimp), and Jesus himself never uttered a single word about being queer (and if he wanted us all to be “traditionally married” so badly, you’d think the guy himself would have gotten married).
For anyone reading this in a Chick-fil-A, “cis-gendered” is an academic term for straight people. It’s a way for the left to make it seem like “heterosexual” is just another PC category. Also, Jesus did indeed talk about marriage — “male and female he created them,” etc. Finally, I don’t know any civilized person who considers homosexuals “just plain evil.” This is self-serving martyrdom that Michelson is engaged in.
But in an important sense Michelson is right — there are contradictions and weird commands in the Bible, and some of them have to do with marriage and slavery. Gay marriage advocates often point this out, and they are right to do so. As a Catholic Christian, I believe that God is a God of reason. We should be forced to use logical arguments to defend our positions.
Yet conservatives are not allowed to argue on equal terms. Not in the pages of The New York Times, and often not even in the pages of National Review. We’re not allowed to argue from the same place of reason. For instance, the following argument, which is in two parts, would most likely not be considered publishable anywhere.
Part one: While we stand foursquare against the bullying and disrespect of anyone based on race, politics, sexual preference or gender, there are certain irreducible things about human beings that to ignore would constitute ignoring reality. The first is that the male and female bodies are different. For most of the human species, there is a complementarity between male and female that is not only physical and biological, but psychological and even spiritual. This complementarity, even as much as the rearing of children, is the reason for marriage.
That is part one of the argument. It may seem obvious, but I once literally spent 20 minutes in my kitchen talking to a gay friend of mine who was about to get married. She had just become a doctor, and I was amazed that she could not and would not agree with the simple premise that two males or two females together constitute something different than a man and a woman together. Not better or worse, mind you — just something, even in a simply anatomical sense, that is different. As incredible as it may seem, we have gotten to a point in the culture when it’s possible to deny reality at its most basic level. We can no longer say that there is a difference between male and female. If the other side can note the odd commands in the Bible, we should be able to point out that male anatomy is different from female anatomy, and that for 50,000 years at least there has been a complementarity and attraction between the two — that the two, for lack of a better term, fit.
The more difficult part of the argument is the second half, because such truth-telling is verboten even in the conservative press. It goes something like this:
After years of arguments over gay marriage, those who support it have yet to adequately answer the question of why, if gay marriage is legalized, marriages cannot thenceforth constitute multiple people, or even relatives. Love is love, right? Furthermore, many mainstream Americans are not comfortable with the propensity of gay activists to sexualize everything. The Chick-fil-A gay “kiss in” — a protest against the fast food chain that involves gay people making out in public — is a perfect example. Whereas an earlier generation of activists may have just showed up with picket signs, today’s gay marriage advocates have to emphasize, in a tacky and public way, their sexuality. To many people this is a reminder of the kind of lack of self-control that led to the spread of diseases in the gay bathhouse culture of the 1970s. This is not to argue that homosexuality is a pathology; it’s possible that gay culture became so saturated with sex because the repression of the larger culture made gay people think about sex much more than they would have in a more accepting society. But logically the harping on sex is a contradiction: the gay marriage movement is both insisting that their sexuality is no big deal and not worth the freak-out by the “cis-genders,” yet at every turn, from “Will & Grace” to gay pride parades to the Chick-fil-A kiss-in, they emphasize their sexuality. Is it no big deal or is it everything?
It is entirely right and proper that Noah Michelson should take to The Huffington Post and argue from a position of reason that the Bible is full of strange rules about marriage and family. Yet when a conservative agrees to put the good book aside and also argue from human reason, he is called pathological, and a bigot and a hater. If he gets heard at all.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.