Why Recognizing Homosexual Marriage Will Further Erode Real Marriage
Marriage: Still held in high esteem, and still a positive force for socializing hot-blooded young men.
I have been in an ongoing email discussion with a former student about the issue of state recognition of homosexual marriage. She is for it, and I am against it. She does not buy in the least my contention that elevating homosexual marriage to a publicly recognized status would further erode heterosexual marriage. Though both of us are professional communicators, I fear we are talking right past one another. Here is where I attempt to explain why recognition of homosexual marriage will only hurt traditional marriage at a time when it is already so weakened that dysfunctional families are a present danger to our society....
To begin my explanation let's first decide why do we publicly honor any good and beneficial deed? When someone is a good citizen, or a good mother, or a good police officer, or a philanthropist, why do we stop and acknowledge their actions as honorable? I contend that part of the reason is that it is because these are the sort of decisions that we want others to make. We “make it a big deal.” We are holding their behavior up as an example for others to follow because the majority of us realize that these behaviors make our society healthy, strong, and a better place to live and raise our families.
I contend that children are best raised in nuclear families, and my basis for this need not be religious at all. I come to the same conclusion based strictly on observational grounds that cultures which lose the nuclear family as the norm are virtually extinct globally and in those in the present are by most measures of civilization, dysfunctional. This does not mean that every family has to be a nuclear one. Things happen and every society can take a certain load of non-optimal situations without harm, but if the load grows greater than the optimal socializing capacity of that society then decay begins to occur. So far we are still good I think because you have already expressed some sympathy with this position…..
Now let’s put these two together. The traditional nuclear family, with a life-long commitment between a man and a woman is the optimal way to conceive, care for, and socialize young children. Society wants to honor people who do things that are good for that society.
The hope is that by “making it a big deal” it will encourage those on the margins to make that choice.
You contend that altering (or opening up if you prefer) the definition of marriage that is recognized and held up by the state to homosexuals now (and who knows what other arrangements later, for polygamy has a much better historical case than homosexual marriage) will not alter the esteem in which people hold marriage, and therefore will not negatively impact long term marriage rates. This I think is where our opinions diverge.
Can you agree that it is usually men who are the ones which have to be encouraged or guided into marriage? Do we agree that men are generally more recalcitrant to “settle down” and own up to the responsibilities of raising children? I did not get married until I was over 40, so I am an example of what I am talking about, albeit not one who was a “playa” (playas wind up alone sitting in their own poop).
So we have guys who want to keep their “freedom” from family responsibilities. To steer them away from that and get them to do what is in society’s (and theirs too, though they don’t realize that at 25) best interest, we make a “big deal” out of formalizing their commitment in marriage. We make it special.
If this is so, then any policy change which increases the special status of such marriage is good for society, and anything which attenuates it is bad for society. I realize that you don’t think that honoring homosexual marriage will have any impact on the willingness of the next generation of young men to succumb to the pressure to tie the knot. I need you to step outside your own skin for a moment and consider not how YOU feel about marriage and commitment, and not even how your florescent-enlightened post-modern quiche-eating metrosexual male friend may feel about it, but how a young redneck, soldier, or factory worker might feel about it.
A change in social policy affects things at the margins, not in the center. That is where you have to look in evaluating the effects of a change in social policy. And the plain truth is, whether the reason is “religious bigotry” or (more likely because most of these fellows are not devout) a natural revulsion related to an evolutionary or built in response to things that are harmful to the tribe, most of this group are going to have negative associations with homosexual marriage.
Whether you consider it right or wrong is not the key. You had to be trained into, via media exposure and post-modern education, what you now consider the “right” position on this issue. It did not come to you naturally. The revulsion is the more natural response (that in itself does not make it morally right, I am speaking in utilitarian terms here). They don’t want to attend such marriages, and they don’t consider such arrangements wholesome or honorable at all. The harder society tries to lump all such arrangements in the same boat the more young men like this are going to do what the pig-side of them wants to do anyway and sail independently. If that is what being in the club is, all the more reason not to join it. Young men are increasingly losing faith in societal institutions of all sorts. Marriage is one of the last of them that still retains somewhat of an honored and special status. People still respect marriage, even if they don't much respect the church and the government sanctioning it.
You might argue that younger male attitudes towards homosexual marriage are not like that at all, that most young men have been educated out of any revulsion and have a liberal attitude on such issues. I agree that this is the attitude of about half the young men out there, but I also note that this is the half that is also more likely to want to shack up or otherwise avoid marriage. IOW they have no problem with expanding the definition of marriage to include homosexuals, but they also have a more casual view of marriage itself. The half that have retained the natural revulsion to a life-style choice that is detrimental to the tribe’s future are also the half more oriented to marriage to begin with.
Again, correlation is not causation, but that’s the way to bet. Furthermore, it indicates that even if half the young male population is for state recognition of homosexual marriage the change in policy will still have a disproportionate negative impact on marriage. It’s like saying half the people are OK with an income tax increase, but they are not the ones most likely to pay significant income taxes. Those who will have to pay the tax are the ones who would be strongly against the change in tax rates, and will be altering their behavior (working less, investing differently) to avoid paying increased taxes.
This is not to say that state recognition of homosexual marriage is the worst problem that marriage faces. I am not saying the effect will be immediate and dramatic. That is not usually how these things work. It’s more like erosion from many sources, and when the levee breaks no one can say for certain what the exact cause was. The only reason I am focusing on state recognition of homosexual marriage is that it is the bad idea that is popular right now. No one is out their advocating that we exalt adultery to an honored status, or absentee fatherhood to an honored status. Indeed people across political and religious lines are still mostly unified in their distaste for such activities and their willingness to honor faithful spouses and committed fathers. So I am only fighting here because this is where the fight is.