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Body and soul

"Body and soul" Continued...

Issue: "Foster care's future," March 5, 2005

I try to show them the unsavory logical consequences of their willingness to equate sodomy with marital sexual love. To justify same-sex "marriage" one must abandon the concept of marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses. But if we do that-if we embrace the idea that marriage is fundamentally an emotional union of people who find their relationship enhanced by mutually agreeable sex acts of any type-we eliminate the rational ground for restricting marriage to two people (as opposed to three or five or eight) and for regarding marriage as intrinsically requiring mutual pledges of exclusivity and fidelity. People who accept same-sex "marriage" have no basis of principle (as opposed to mere sentiment or subjective preference) for opposing polygamy, polyamory (group marriage), promiscuity ("open marriages"), and the like. What then is left of marriage? Nothing.

Similarly, most secular liberal academics do not want to join Peter Singer in endorsing infanticide and the mass production of children to be killed in infancy for the purpose of harvesting transplantable organs. I try to show them that by accepting abortion they remove any principled moral basis for objecting to such a nightmarish view. After all, birth is of no moral significance. The child a moment or a month or nine months prior to birth is the same living human being as the child a moment or a month or nine months (or 90 years) after birth. My argument against the rather chaotic collection of moral views held by many secular scholars is not that they violate the tenets of Jewish or Christian faith (though they do); it is that they fail-sometimes spectacularly fail-the test of reason.

WORLD: What do you say to conservatives with a federalist perspective who want the same-sex marriage issue to be decided on a state-by-state level?

GEORGE: On their own terms they should favor a federal constitutional amendment to prevent the courts from imposing same-sex marriage nationwide, either by manufacturing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage or by ruling that Massachusetts same-sex marriages must be given "full faith and credit" by other states when same-sex couples from Massachusetts move into those states. We need more than that, though, and after the success of socially conservative candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate in the 2004 elections, we can get it. The "more" we need is a uniform national definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Here's why: Marriage is fundamental. Marriage is the basis of the family, and it is in healthy families that children are reared to be honorable people and good citizens. So marriage and the family are the basic units of society. No society can flourish when they are undermined. Until now, a social consensus regarding the basic definition of marriage meant that we didn't need to resolve the question at the federal level. Every state recognized marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman. (The federal government did its part at one point in our history to ensure that this would remain the case by making Utah's admission to the Union as a state conditional upon its banning polygamy.)

The breakdown of the consensus certainly does not eliminate the need for a uniform national definition. If we don't have one, then marriage will erode either quickly-by judicial imposition, unless judges are stopped-or gradually by the integration into the formal and informal institutions of society of same-sex couples who, after all, possess legally valid marriage licenses from some state. In the long run, it is untenable for large numbers of people to be considered married in one or some states of the United States yet unmarried in others. As Lincoln warned it would be with the evil of slavery in his time, it is inevitable that the country will go "all one way or all the other." Slavery would either be abolished everywhere or it would spread everywhere. The same is true of same-sex "marriage," in the long run-and perhaps even in the not-so-long run.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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