Saturday, September 17, 2005

Since Massachusetts Hasn't Crumbled to the Ground and Fallen Into the Atlantic Ocean, I Think I'll Change My Position on Homosexual Marriage

One of the themes we see repeated often in scripture, particularly the Old Testament, is the concept that the consequences of sin don't always arrive immediately after the sin is committed. The people of Israel were often rebuked for reasoning that they had avoided judgment because judgment didn't occur quickly. Apparently, the New York Times is slow in learning this lesson as well:

There's nothing like a touch of real-world experience to inject some reason into the inflammatory national debate over gay marriages. Take Massachusetts, where the state's highest court held in late 2003 that under the State Constitution, same-sex couples have a right to marry. The State Legislature moved to undo that decision last year by approving a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and create civil unions as an alternative. But this year, when precisely the same measure came up for a required second vote, it was defeated by a thumping margin of 157 to 39.

The main reason for the flip-flop is that some 6,600 same-sex couples have married over the past year with nary a sign of adverse effects. The sanctity of heterosexual marriages has not been destroyed. Public morals have not gone into a tailspin. Legislators who supported gay marriage in last year's vote have been re-elected....

As a Republican leader explained in justifying his vote switch: "Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry who could not before." A Democrat attributed his change of heart to the beneficial effects he saw "when I looked in the eyes of the children living with these couples." Gay marriage, it turned out, is good for family values.

I don't know of any opponent of homosexual marriage who expected the sanctity of heterosexual marriage to be "destroyed" and public morals in general to be in a "tailspin" so soon after legalizing homosexual marriage. When divorce occurs in a home, we don't conclude that the divorce must have had few or no negative consequences because there isn't "destruction" and a "tailspin" within a year or two of the divorce.

We have logical reasons to expect negative results to homosexual marriage. We have experiential reasons to expect negative results, given what's happened in other nations. And we have reason to expect negative results from revelation, namely the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Does the New York Times' editorial overturn any of these three lines of evidence? No. Does a year or two in Massachusetts without "destruction" and "tailspin" overturn any of these three arguments? No.

The Times quotes a Democratic legislator commenting on what he supposedly saw in the eyes of children who were living with homosexual couples. Yes, the New York Times has a firm grasp on objective and convincing argumentation. They'd probably see the same look in the children's eyes if they gave them candy to eat for breakfast or let them watch television all day rather than going to school.

What the Times and these Massachusetts legislators need to do is interact with the arguments actually being made by opponents of homosexual marriage, interact with the sort of data we see from homosexual marriage in the Netherlands, for example, and interact with the Biblical data, including the evidence we have for the reliability of the Bible. Judged by those standards, today's New York Times editorial is weak, unconvincing, and embarrassing.