Redefining Marriage—The Bigger Picture
California’s Proposition 8 has propelled gay marriage back into the forefront of popular debate, and the arguments, both pro and con, most of us could recite in our sleep.
The common refrain from traditional-marriage advocates is that families are the building blocks of society and only one man and one woman can create a family, and, therefore, tradition should remain intact for the sake of children. Besides, studies have shown that children fare better with a mother and a father, as opposed to the mix-and-match, create-your-own brand of family so common, particularly in the gay world.
Children are certainly the primary reason voters in liberal California adopted Prop 8. Most citizens wish love and stability for everyone in the gay community, and our public institutions should honor the intrinsic dignity and worth of every human being. Nonetheless, all Americans share a stake in maintaining the social and sexual harmony of traditional marriage.
For-the-children arguments alone leave a gaping hole in the front line of defense of traditional marriage. Gay advocates and their supporters can and often do counter that if it’s all about children, then why do we allow elderly people to marry? What about childless couples, shouldn’t their unions be legally null and void?
In truth, traditional marriage protects not only children from the excesses of male sexuality, it protects women and men, as well. Someone once wrote that for any society to maintain stability, the vital question is what do we do with our young men? Economist and author George Gilder wrote in 1986s Men and Marriage that “The crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses to the long-term horizons of female sexuality.”
The rush of energy fueled by testosterone inhibits fidelity and responsibility. The expectation, indeed the pressure to marry is society’s way of taking a young man by the collar and saying, “This way, son.” Redefining marriage chips away at an institution created not so I can have visitors in the hospital (and, of course, I already can) but to keep male sexuality in check. By diluting its meaning, over time, marriage can mean anything I want in to. In fact, the gay marriage movement is not solely responsible for the erosion of the traditional family, it is only the latest salvo in a forty-plus year campaign to instill instant gratification and perpetual adolescence as society’s crowning achievements, begetting subcultures of dependent single mothers, fathers who feel rootless and irrelevant, as well as children with cloudy concepts of responsibility, commitment and the continuity of familial generations.
The sexual exploits of Hugh Hefner and his three 20-something girlfriends create lively entertainment news, and somehow he makes it look like PG-rated fun. Sadly, in real life, men with no compulsion to marry, and who use and discard women, leave behind broken lives measurable not just by economic numbers and statistics but by neglect and heartbreak, both of which become less, not more, bearable with time.
Gay and nontraditional marriage can certainly offer love and sustenance, but human nature, free of politically correct groupthink, recognizes that testosterone-times-two, as public policy, is a recipe for disaster. It is women who, via childbirth and nurturance, tame male sexuality and offer roots, responsibility and permanence. A family headed by two lesbians, of course, can provide love and permanence, but it remains a fatherless household.
The majority of couples who marry will, at some point, have children. Social norms and customs recognize the rules of human behavior and not the exceptions, meaning that marriage belongs even to childless couples. Homosexuality, as opposed to individual homosexuals, lies at the periphery of society and thus cannot claim the same recognition or protection as heterosexuality.
It is not enough merely to expect such pliable concepts as commitment and responsibility — a few hours ‘quality’ time a month is enough commitment for some parents — it is the structure and high expectation that those who create a life should nurture that life that make traditional marriage the building block of a free, prosperous society.
Is marriage a perfect institution? No, but then none is because people are not. Still, when anarchy reigns, the last ones left standing in the sexual and economic arenas are the most powerful — successful men and young, nubile women, each of whom takes from the other. Sadly for women, their prime time is limited and they are replaced by the younger and more attractive, and, finally, the men stand alone. Gay marriage, as loving as it sounds, only hastens the onset of sexual anarchy. The warriors against traditions always want more than they are asking for — indeed, their sexual adventurism feeds on itself. They don’t want merely to modify or expand the rules, they will keep hacking away until there are no rules left at all.