U-T San Diego letter writers have continued trying, within the U-T word allowance for letters (125 words per the letter editor’s email to me a while back, though the paper’s posted guidelines only warn vaguely against being too “lengthy”), to debate whether “marriage” should be redefined to include homosexual unions. Leonard Foster’s 12/12 letter, opposing redefinition and citing the importance of procreative potential for valid marriage, was followed on 12/13 by a letter from Gloria Espeseth supporting redefinition, arguing that only lifelong commitment matters and emphasizing how non-procreative heterosexual unions are not denied the “marriage” label. This is turn was followed, on 12/14, by a letter from Martha Martin opposing redefinition and focusing on the social function of marriage related to child rearing (“not every marriage produces children, but every child has a mom and a dad”). Though I was able to trim my remarks on this micro-debate to 201 words, this was still well over 125, and I could see no acceptable way to shorten it further. Instead, I opted to replace some of what I’d removed, add this introduction, and post it here.
Though posting something on this issue so soon after the mass murder of children in Connecticut may seem odd, given that everyone else is focused on the mass murder (which I suppose could only have been more shocking, and its perpetrator more manifestly evil and cowardly, had it happened in a maternity ward rather than at a school), I actually perceive a distant connection between the marriage redefinition debate and this latest expression of human evil. This mass murder, like countless crimes perpetrated since antiquity, chose children as its targets, undoing accomplished procreation. Efforts to redefine “marriage” to include homosexual unions also work against “be fruitful and multiply” by elevating unions that, in their essential nature, do not and cannot produce children, to a status equal that of potentially-procreative unions. Mass killings with children as victims, murder of individual children, abortion, and homosexual “marriage” all work against fulfillment of the “be fruitful and multiply” directive to procreate.
Re: recent U-T San Diego letter writers debating the question of whether “marriage” should be redefined to include homosexual unions (against redefinition, Leonard Foster, 12/12 on B5, citing importance of procreative potential, and Martha Martin, 12/14 on B6, citing social functions of marriage related to child rearing; for redefinition, Gloria Espeseth, 12/13 on B6, arguing only lifelong commitment matters).
Foster and Martin seem to me more nearly correct than Espeseth. The latter’s effort to justify redefining “marriage” to include homosexual unions (always incapable of procreating) by pointing out that some heterosexual spouses do not procreate resembles efforts to justify abortion by pointing out that some pregnancies end in miscarriage.
The natural and expected outcome of conception is birth; that miscarriages occur neither alters this fact nor justifies abortion. Similarly, procreation is the natural and expected outcome of the heterosexual activity that marriage regulates. Even those heterosexual spouses who do not have children (by choice or because unable) are still modeling the heterosexual bond that naturally tends toward procreation.
As the natural and expected outcome of abortion is prevention of birth, so the natural and expected outcome of homosexual union is prevention of procreation. Homosexual couples, even if they call themselves “married” and seek to adopt, model rejection of the procreation-tending heterosexual bond. Calling this rejection “marriage” is nonsense.
In fact, one should note, constructing our laws in a way lending any support at all to such rejection is a highly suspect maneuver that seems calculated to weaken our society. The debate we should be having is not over whether “marriage” should be nonsensically redefined to include homosexual unions, but whether homosexual unions can safely be granted any official status. Though our commitment to individual liberty may make us unwilling to outlaw homosexual activity between “consenting adults,” sober reflection on the social implications of government-sanctioned homosexuality may persuade us that even something so ostensibly harmless as homosexual “civil unions” should be opposed.
I know these are dangerous ideas in today’s cultural climate, and I offer them only as tentative reflections that the reader might ponder, not as dogma. Your thoughts?
Update (2013-03-29): Readers may find this recent contribution to the debate of interest.