Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Limiting the Freedom to Marry is a Good Thing

There have been quite a few yard signs like the one you see on the right that have been popping up in my neighborhood.  The sign says: "Vote NO.  Don't limit the freedom to marry."  The sentiment on the sign speaks to the upcoming Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota state constitution, which seeks to define marriage as between one man and one woman.  The occasion of these signs popping up in my neighborhood, along with my continual pondering of what I consider to be the most important article in the homosexual marriage conversation (which I've been looking for an excuse to repost), has led me to think more about the idea of "limiting the freedom to marry" and why doing so is actually a good thing.

The trick here is the use of the word "freedom," and the idea the yard sign is communicating is that limiting freedom to marry is a bad thing.  Nobody wants to be accused of taking away the rights of another group of people.  But if you think about it for longer than a second or two, the government already limits the freedom to marry in several ways - not even including the current prohibition on gay marriage.  For example, a married man does not have the freedom to marry another woman and take a second wife.  His freedom to marry is limited.  Furthermore, a man does not have the right to marry a sister, cousin, or other close relation.  His freedom is likewise limited.  The same is true for someone who wants to marry an animal.  We have limited a person's freedom to marry out of species.  Children are not allowed to marry.  Their freedom to marry is limited.  So the notion that "limiting the freedom to marry" is an inherently bad thing doesn't hold water.  Furthermore, it can and should be argued that limiting the freedom to marry in matters of polygamy, bestiality, and incest is a good and positive thing.

This is what makes Voddie Baucham's article on why homosexuality is not a civil right all the more important.  Gay marriage is not an issue of civil rights or freedom.  It simply isn't.  That would be like saying that incest and bestiality are civil rights issues.  No one would ever say that a prohibition of marriage to animals is an infringement of rights.  Or that it is unjust to forbid a man to marry his sister. (Note that I am not equating homosexuality to incest or bestiality here - I'm simply making the point that homosexual marriage is not a civil rights issue and so homosexuals aren't having freedom stripped from them by way of a constitutional prohibition of gay marriage in the same way that polygamists don't have their freedom to marry several women stripped from them when polygamy is outlawed.)

The next question I have, and one that is for another posting, is whether or not we as Christians (or just American people) should have ever given the government such power in the arena of marriage.  In other words, why is the government involved in the marriage business at all?  If the government were completely out of marriage, and if marriage were left solely to religious institutions, I don't think we'd have any of the hubbub we do now.  Even when it comes to all of the deviant forms of marriage I've listed above.  For example, no church in their right mind would marry two women to one man.  The same is true for marrying one man and one animal.  If the religious institutions were allowed to define marriage, we wouldn't have all of this political stuff going on right now.  Homosexuals could still be together and co-habitate.  Even people with sick desires to marry their sister or an animal could have a relationship with that person - they just couldn't be married for the simple reason that no one would be around to marry them.  I really like the idea of the government getting out of marriage completely and leaving marriage up to religious institutions.  Till that happens (which it most likely won't), I'm all in favor of limiting the freedom to marry.


Anonymous said...

You say you're not equating gay marriage to marrying an animal or close relative, but your entire argument is based upon the fact that these are not allowed so gay marriage needn't be either. The only other part of your argument is that the government should butt out of marriage completely.
You seem to be completely avoiding the actual issue of whether or not you believe two same sex people should be allowed to marry, which you do not seem to believe.
The other fundamental flaw in your argument is that you don't seem to take into account the number of people who want these things. While the desire to marry a sibling is rare, and to marry an animal almost unheard of, a large percentage of the population is openly homosexual. Another large part of the population is not openly homosexual because they fear not being accepted by their peers or loved ones, for simply following their hearts. Not allowing gay marriage is one more thing telling these people that they are not accepted and will not be treated the same way as others as they cannot marry who they love. I guarantee that you have met many homosexual people in your life. How many do you know that want to marry an animal? My guess is very few unless you run with an exceptionally unique crowd. If you really want to address an issue such as this, try sharing all of your beliefs on the issue for starters.
I think you have the right to your beliefs and I completely respect that. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here a bit so you can further develop and back up your beliefs if you feel the need to publicly assert them. So one thing for you to ponder is why you believe that such a large portion of people should not be able to marry the one they love, and receive all the benefits a man and woman receive from marriage.

Joel said...

Anonymous -

First of all, thanks for reading my blog and for taking time to comment. While I can see the stats of how many people visit my blog, I'm never sure who is actually reading it. It's helpful to know that there are some dissenting views from my own that are at least somewhat interested in what I have to say.

As to your comment, I maintain that I was not equating homosexuality to the likes of bestiality, incest, or polygamy. The main point of this post was to refute the logic that limiting marriage is inherently wrong or bad. My evidence for this is the fact that marriage is limited all the time and in several circumstances. Certainly you would agree that limiting the freedom to marry in the cases of bestiality or incest is a good thing. Whether or not homosexual marriage is a good thing is a completely different issue (which is probably why I didn't explain my own views in this post). But it is logically fallacious to assert that limiting the freedom to marry is a bad thing. (If you want to hear my personal views on homosexuality, you can read a post titled "So Still You Think Homosexuality Is a Sin? Yes. I Do.) That post should give you a good starting point to seeing where I stand on that issue.)

As far as what you deem as the fundamental flaw in my argument, I would respond that your argument is a slippery slope. You imply that a significant reason that homosexual marriage should be allowed is that a significant portion of the population wants to have it (which, if you're speaking about the homosexual population, is actually not that large - somewhere between 3%-10%, but probably closer to 3%). If we take your view to its logical next step, then we must allow bestiality, incest, polygamy, and pedophilia if and when a significant percentage of the population demands those things to be legalized. Do we want that? Certainly not! Even if a significant number of people want them. Furthermore, I could just as easily argue that YOU are not taking into account all of those people who don't want gay marriage, which is almost certainly a larger group of Americans than those who support it. Again, your argument is a slippery slope.

You say, "Not allowing gay marriage is one more thing telling these people that they are not accepted and will not be treated the same way as others as they cannot marry who they love." Again, I would argue that we tell people they can't marry who they love all the time, and in several situations - not just in homosexual relationships. Logically speaking, what makes it OK to limit the freedom of others but not of homosexuals?

Thanks for the dialogue, and I am genuinely interested in what your response(s) might be to what I've written here. I appreciate the opportunity to have what I believed challenged, as I hope you do as well. In the end, hopefully we can both be challenged and learn to dialogue more effectively.