To be precise, the purpose of marriage is not simply “children, children, children,” as some critics so eloquently put it, but rather, i) the maintenance of the human race and ii) the mutual benefit and perfection (or sanctification) of the marriage partners. The former end is achieved by the bearing and raising of children. The latter end is achieved by the lifelong, monogamous commitment to each other that goes along with raising children. It is not in the interest of a society to commit major social backing to a form of marriage which does not reinforce the goods to be had by marriage. So, any kind of marriage that undermines the aims of marriage simply has no basis in nature or in legal policy. It is a different matter entirely whether any specific case of the marriage kind results in the ends intended by it.
For example, if the state were to sanction, say, polyamory and polygamy as an acceptable kind, it would thereby undermine the second end of marriage, even if (for the sake of argument) that particular case managed to achieve the desired end (i.e. the partners became healthier and more virtuous). It would be a false positive, as it were, and thus an unsound basis for shaping policy meant to achieve the natural ends of the human race. In a similar vein, just because a handful of drunk persons get from the bar to their homes without causing any damage, that is not a good argument, as far as the state is concerned about the common good, to legalize drunk driving. It is a natural fact that drunk people and large machines at high speeds is bad for the common good, even if specific cases of this unnatural conjunction can be cited that did not lead to any apparent harm. Likewise, just because a particular married couple‘s union does not result in the sanctification of the man and the woman––say that they only reinforced each other’s vices more and more as they aged––that does not entitle the state to judge their marriage invalid, since it was formally of the proper nature to achieve that end, all things being equal.
In the case of infertile couples, just because a particular case of the marriage bond does not achieve the first end of marriage (say the man had a vasectomy), it does not follow that their marriage ceases to be of the right kind for normally achieving that end, and thus of the kind that society had long-standing rational interest in defending. Hypothetically, a perfectly fertile couple who just happened to have sex on a day when the wife was in her infertile phase, and thus who never conceived any children for as long as they were married, would not undermine the natural form of marriage as the natural basis for maintaining the human race. If, however, to enter an alternate universe, every case of a man and a woman’s union had been seen to fail at producing children, humans long ago would have acknowledge that “the union of a man and a woman is by its very nature an unsound basis for furthering the species,” and thus would have long ago diverted its energies towards supporting the kind of union that actually achieved the desired end. Let’s imagine the saving union were between a man and a banyan tree.
In the hypothetical past I’m discussing here, even if it were discovered that a man and a woman could manage to raise other people’s banyan-children more or less to everybody’s satisfaction, it would not follow that humans should, much less ‘must’, include––by sheer legal re-definition––”the male-female union” as an equally sound kind of arrangement for maintaining the species, since the union of men and banyan trees by its very nature achieved the desired end. Everyone in that alternate universe would realize that man-woman unions are simply of the wrong nature to achieve the desired end, and thus would have no rational basis for supporting them as carefully as they supported “manyan” marriage.
Well, even though advocates of so-called “same-sex marriage” haven’t noticed by now, no matter how much they try, when gay men have sex and lesbians have sex, no children result as a natural fact. Hence, the kind of thing they’re doing when they try to unify their lives, even with the intention of aping marital monogamy, simply is not of the nature to achieve the proper end of what marriage is. As such, society has no rational basis for diverting support for a kind of arrangement that in principle is not ordered to achieving one of society’s chief ends. Indeed, putting children in the care of such unnatural––and thus unsustainable––unions, is opposed to the state’s interest, insofar as such children will grow up valorizing an improper kind of a basis for sustaining the human race, which will only lead to them avoiding paths in life that promote the species’ flourishing. Once you learn to valorize one kind of policy that harms the long-term common good, it’s only a matter of time that you’ll promote other kinds of harmful policies. Why should the state promote such a fatal and self-stultifying trend?
At the end of the day, arguments for gay marriage are as sound––and thus as objectionable––as arguments for legalizing drunk driving. If friends don’t let friends drive drunk, they also don’t let friends marry gay.
- The Benefits of Marriage (insureyes.com)
- A Rational Basis for Marriage between One Man and One Woman (insightscoop.typepad.com)