Gay Marriage And Politics
Is there some reason why the gay marriage question has become such a hot issue in this Presidential Election? Why does it matter, anyway? Its always been a mystery to me why some people have such a strong opposition to homosexuality - a sexual orientation that has no direct effect on anyone. This includes lesbianism too, of course. There are, no doubt, a lot of women who are lesbians, yet I have never been approached, accosted or threatened by one. There are a great deal of homosexual men too, yet I dont hear of any of them forcing themselves on heterosexual males in our free society. So what is the basis of such fear and hostility toward men and women who simply prefer their own gender for sex?
From what I have observed and read from those who are adamantly opposed to homosexuals in general and gay marriage in particular, the majority of the anti-gay feeling comes from conservative religious fundamentalists, which, to me, says a lot right there. What is their basis for their opposition? Many of the anti-gay moralists tend to tap dance around their reasons without offering a straight answer. At least, they havent come up with an answer that makes sense to me. So that leaves many of us, myself included, to speculate on what those reasons are.
The way I see it, the objection to homosexuality by religious conservatives and fundamentalists is that there are no "consequences" to sexual acts between homosexual men or lesbian women. By "consequences," I am referring to pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. I have read enough traditional Catholic and Fundamentalist Christian doctrine to know that they are strongly against the idea of any couple enjoying sexual activity without some sort of "consequence" or "responsibility." They adamantly oppose a heterosexual couple using reliable birth control or engaging in any sexual act other than sexual intercourse that deliberately avoids the risk of pregnancy, calling such activities "sins." So it isnt too much of a stretch to say that if they are opposed to heterosexual couples having sex without consequences, they would be even more against the idea of two males or two females doing the same. As we all know, sex between two men or two women will never create a pregnancy.
But what are the roots for this opposition to sex strictly for pleasure? Where did it all begin? Noted British philosopher Bertrand Russell offered his own theories in his book Marriage and Morals, and I find myself in complete agreement with his viewpoints. In his chapter titled "Christian Ethics," Russell makes the following point: "Christianity, and more particularly St. Paul, introduced an entirely novel view of marriage, that it existed not primarily for the procreation of children, but to prevent the sin of fornication."
Of course, this begs the question: Why is fornication a sin? The answer is simple, really: Because St. Paul said it was. As far as he was concerned, no further explanation was required. Rather like the standard "because I say so" answer a parent gives a child when the parent doesnt feel like providing an explanation for a rule or a punishment. Still, why does St. Paul consider sexual intercourse (the modern term for fornication) a sin? Russell had a theory for this too: "St. Paul holds that sexual intercourse, even in marriage, is something of a handicap in the attempt to win salvation (I Cor. vii. 32-34). Nevertheless, it is possible for married people to be saved, but fornication is deadly sin, and the unrepentant fornicator is sure to find himself among the goats." Where he got that harebrained idea is anyones guess. Obviously, a lot of people believe its true.
Of course, this is strictly St. Pauls opinion. In fact, he would have preferred that all men share his anti-sex views. Still, even he was enough of a realist to see this would never be the case, so he figured it was best to cut them a little slack by offering marriage as a legitimate way of indulging in a practice that he considered undesirable. He personally didnt see anything good in marriage or that physical affection between husband and wife was beautiful and desirable. He didnt even take an interest in the family. His whole focus was centered on fornication, and it formed the basis for his own peculiar version of sexual ethics. To put it more bluntly: St. Paul had serious issues with sexual intercourse (probably any other form of sex activity as well) and decided that everyone should participate in it only under conditions which he determined were acceptable. This would leave only two options open: (1) for a couple to be formally married, and (2) and after being married, to have sex only if the intended outcome was the procreation of children. Sex for pleasure wasnt included in either one.
Given the anti-sex feelings of St. Paul, which still exist in modern religious groups such as conservative Christianity and traditional Catholicism, it is easy to see why people belonging to one of these churches would be strongly opposed to homosexuality, even though it has no direct effect on their own lives.
Still, could there be an even deeper reason for opposition to gay marriage, one that fundamentalists aren't willing to admit? Let's examine another possibility. If a gay couple either lives together or marries, odds are that there wont be any children added to the mix. This means a homosexual or lesbian couple will only increase the amount of money coming into the household by adding an extra income. They will have the freedom to indulge their own desires after the obligations of rent or mortgage, food, utilities and other monthly expenses are paid, because there is a lot more money left over. So, given the extra freedom such a couple will have, one has to wonder if the basis for this strong anti-gay feeling has only a single emotion involved - envy. Rather ironic, when you think about it, considering that envy is one of the "seven deadly sins" of conservative Christians and Catholics. Yet, when I think about it, its the only reason that makes sense. Otherwise, why would anyone consider it an issue to begin with.