Pascal said, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” So-called marriage “equality” is attractive. Who could be against equality?
But what if the word “equality” is being misused? What if that kind of equality will have the unintended consequence of hurting children, individuals and the nation? And what if everyone already has true equality?
True equality does not conflate people and behavior. People are equal but their behaviors are not. When liberals claim that certain sexual behaviors are equal – or that all outcomes must be equalized—they are misusing an important word and advocating a society that will ultimately smash itself into an unforgiving wall called reality.
Conservatives realize that for any long-term happiness to be possible, we must adjust our desired behavior to fit the unchanging laws of nature. Liberals mistakenly think we can adjust the unchanging laws of nature to fit our desired behavior.
I don’t question the motivation of liberals—in fact their intentions are often noble. But the problem lies with their definition of “equality” and the results of their policies. On the issue of marriage they want to legally equate biologically different behaviors, which ultimately will hurt everyone, especially children.
Last March I was asked by our local NPR affiliate to debate an attorney who was against the marriage amendment here in North Carolina. The debate was held at a theater in downtown Charlotte that held about 600. Despite the amendment passing comfortably a couple of months later, it seemed like 598 people in the theater that night were against me. That shows you who listens to NPR. (I still thank my Mom and Dad for showing up!)
The organizers gave me only nine minutes to make my case before the format degenerated into the Jerry Springer show. The time constraints made it impossible to cover the topic adequately. But like word constraints in a column, they force you to hone your position. This column and tomorrow’s column contain what I said that night, with a few minor edits.
Good evening. I wish I could be arguing for same sex marriage here tonight. On the surface, it’s an attractive position. I have friends who believe same sex marriage will help make them happy. In addition, I would rather not be slurred as a “hater,” a “bigot” or “intolerant” for opposing what is becoming more fashionable in our culture today. I would rather not be fired for expressing my political beliefs about marriage in a book, as I have been. I would rather not argue against powerful slogans such as “equal rights,” “don’t put discrimination in the constitution,” and “I have a right to marry the one I love.”
But I do argue against them because those slogans and slurs are based on fallacies, not truth. And as Chesterton pointed out over 100 years ago, “Fallacies do not cease being fallacies when they become fashions.”
Why are they fallacies? I’ve written an entire book on this topic. But since I only have nine minutes, I can’t touch on everything. Nevertheless, I am hopeful our discussion tonight will help us all to realize that this debate over marriage should not be reduced to slogans, slurs and sound bites. In the spirit of inclusion, diversity and tolerance, I am hopeful that we will consider one another’s diverse arguments carefully and respectfully so we can generate more light than heat on this critically important issue.
Let’s be clear about what this issue is not about. It is not about whether people with homosexual attractions are equal citizens who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. All human beings should be treated with equal dignity and respect. But while all people are equal, all ideas and behaviors are not. I hope to evaluate the different ideas and behaviors we are each advocating tonight by being correct, not politically correct. I mean no offense.
Here is my thesis: Marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of civilized society and should be the only sexual relationship promoted by the government. That is the essence of the Marriage Protection Amendment, and its passage in no way violates anyone’s civil rights.
In order to see this, we need to ask, “For what primary purpose is the government involved in marriage at all?” It’s not because two people love one another or to make individuals “happy.” The main reason most governments promote the union of a man and woman exclusivelyis because only the committed union of a man and a woman perpetuates and stabilizes society. I’ll call this union “natural marriage” because of the natural biological compatibility of male and female bodies and to differentiate it from same-sex marriage.
Here are four ways naturalmarriage perpetuates and stabilizes society:
1. Natural Marriage procreates and provides the most stable, balanced and nurturing environment for children. While not every marriage results in children, the only marriages than can procreate are those between a man and a woman. And statistically, children and the country do best when kids are brought up in a biological two-parent home. Children from intact natural marriage homes are:
a. Seven times less likely to live in poverty
b. Six times less likely to commit suicide
c. Less than half as likely to commit crime
d. Less than half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock
e. Develop better academically and socially
f. Are healthier physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood
This makes sense in light of the fact that men and women are different and parent differently—each sex brings unique abilities and role modeling that aids in child development. While single parents do amazing work, every child starts with and deserves a mother and a father. If you deny this, then which parent is dispensable?
2. Natural Marriage civilizes men and focuses them on productive pursuits such as procreating and caring for their family. Studies invariably show that marriage reduces crime. (How many married men do you know who roam neighborhoods in street gangs?) Civilization requires civilized men, and natural marriage does that well.
3. Natural Marriage protects women from being used and abandoned by uncommitted men. Women often postpone or give up their careers to have children, and Natural Marriage protects them and their children from deadbeat dads.
4. Natural Marriage lowers social costs to government and thus taxpayers. One major reason for our soaring deficit is the breakdown of the two-parent family. When the family breaks down, government expenditures swell to deal with increased crime and poverty. Increased taxation also slows the economy. That’s one reason why you cannot bifurcate the social and financial issues. They are inescapably connected.
In short, when our natural marriages are strong, our society is strong. When they are weak, our society is weak. That means all in our society—even those who never get married—benefit immensely from government promotion of natural marriage.
But doesn’t promoting natural marriage exclusively violate the rights of people who are attracted to the same sex? That’s what I’ll address in tomorrow’s column.
Frank Turek is coauthor of I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, and the author of Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case. See more of his work at CrossExamined.org.