It always irritates me when people discuss complex, nuanced, historically sensitive cultural issues like this as if it were a simple black and white matter of good vs. evil. Of love, liberty and equality vs. bigotry, superstition and reactionism. This is why I like playing the devil’s advocate in favour of unfashionable things like religion. Over a year ago now I tried my best at defending the anti-same sex marriage (SSM) position with this article. I was indifferent to begin with but in the process I decided I agreed with what I’d written. The overriding purpose, however, remained to defend those who are against SSM from the popular charges of homophobia and irrationality. But over the course of the year I’ve decided that the arguments I thought were decisive made too many assumptions. Read the rest of this entry
In the UK at least, the question of whether the law should call civil partnerships marriages is a merely semantic dispute. It is not about equality, under the existing legislation in Britain same-sex couples already have that, and it’s not about homophobia either. It is that the term ‘marriage’, by contrast to near synonyms ‘wedding’ and perhaps ‘union’, requires two heterogeneous elements mixed to create something new. To make a crude example, some salad can go together to make a nice salad, but fried chicken and piri piri sauce- that’s a marriage. But of course it goes deeper than that. It is also about mystery, and here the mystery is the unknown nature -yet wondrous complementarity- of the other (in both mind and body).
The semantic dispute doesn’t only come down to whether or not the ceremonies take place in the context of a belief system, but also to the content of a belief. Surprisingly, many people disagree with gay marriage even though they don’t believe that homosexuality is condemned by god.
In our cultural heritage, marriage has always been the Christian sacrament of holy matrimony, a ritual practise which symbolises not just a committed romantic relationship between two people, but the union of two people into one biological whole from which new life (literally) flows as a transformation of their love. Read the rest of this entry