Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Frank Turek: is “equality” the issue in the same-sex marriage debate?

Here’s part one in a two-part series.

Excerpt:

Here is my thesisMarriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of civilized society and should be the only sexual relationship promoted by the government. That is the essence of the Marriage Protection Amendment, and its passage in no way violates anyone’s civil rights.

In order to see this, we need to ask, “For what primary purpose is the government involved in marriage at all?” It’s not because two people love one another or to make individuals “happy.” The main reason most governments promote the union of a man and woman exclusively is because only the committed union of a man and a woman perpetuates and stabilizes society. I’ll call this union “natural marriage” because of the natural biological compatibility of male and female bodies and to differentiate it from same-sex marriage.

Here are four ways natural marriage perpetuates and stabilizes society:

1. Natural Marriage procreates and provides the most stable, balanced and nurturing environment for children. While not every marriage results in children, the only marriages than can procreate are those between a man and a woman. And statistically, children and the country do best when kids are brought up in a biological two-parent home. Children from intact natural marriage homes are:

a. Seven times less likely to live in poverty

b. Six times less likely to commit suicide

c. Less than half as likely to commit crime

d. Less than half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock

e. Develop better academically and socially

f. Are healthier physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood

This makes sense in light of the fact that men and women are different and parent differently—each sex brings unique abilities and role modeling that aids in child development. While single parents do amazing work, every child starts with and deserves a mother and a father. If you deny this, then which parent is dispensable?

2. Natural Marriage civilizes men and focuses them on productive pursuits such as procreating and caring for their family. Studies invariably show that marriage reduces crime. (How many married men do you know who roam neighborhoods in street gangs?) Civilization requires civilized men, and natural marriage does that well.

3. Natural Marriage protects women from being used and abandoned by uncommitted men. Women often postpone or give up their careers to have children, and Natural Marriage protects them and their children from deadbeat dads.

4. Natural Marriage lowers social costs to government and thus taxpayers. One major reason for our soaring deficit is the breakdown of the two-parent family. When the family breaks down, government expenditures swell to deal with increased crime and poverty. Increased taxation also slows the economy. That’s one reason why you cannot bifurcate the social and financial issues. They are inescapably connected.

In short, when our natural marriages are strong, our society is strong. When they are weak, our society is weak. That means all in our society—even those who never get married—benefit immensely from government promotion of natural marriage.

He is promoting fusionism there, which is my view of economics. Social and fiscal issues are tightly coupled and mutually reinforcing.

Here’s part two of two.

Excerpt:

But why not promote both natural marriage and same sex marriage?

Several reasons, but I can only briefly mention three.

First, same-sex marriage would make the institution of marriage genderless. There would not be two forms of marriage—natural and same-sex—but marriage legally and culturally would become a genderless institution about merely coupling. In Massachusetts it’s Partner A and Partner B. In other words, same-sex marriage divorces children from marriage. The law is a great teacher, and same-sex marriage teaches that marriage is about adult desires, not the needs of children. Marriage should be more about what children need than what adults want. If marriage isn’t about the needs of children, then what institution is about children and the next generation? So homosexuality really isn’t the issue here—making marriage genderless and childless is.

Second, since natural marriage and same-sex marriage are different behaviors with different outcomes they should not be equated legally. To see this, consider two questions.

Question 1: What would be the benefits to society if everyone lived faithfully in natural marriage? It would benefit everyone in society because it would result in a massive reduction in poverty, crime, child abuse, welfare, and government spending.

Question 2: What would be the benefits to society if everyone lived faithfully in same-sex marriage? It would be the end of society itself.

Now, I am not suggesting that a law would fully achieve either, but only to point out that natural and same-sex marriage should not be legally or culturally equated. The truth is homosexual and heterosexual relationships are not the same, can never be the same, and will never yield the same benefits to individuals or society. We hurt everyone, especially children, by pretending otherwise.

Finally, as jurisdictions with same-sex marriage show us, people lose their freedoms of speech, association, religion and even parenting due to the imposition of same-sex marriage. InMassachusetts, for example, parents now have no right to even know when their kids as young as kindergarten are being taught about homosexuality, much less opt out of it; business owners must now provide benefits to same-sex couples, and they can be fined for declining to provide services at homosexual weddings; Catholic charities were forced to close and leave Massachusetts and Washington D.C. because both governments mandated that all adoption agencies had to provide children to homosexuals. So much for freedom of religion! And in Canada, same-sex marriage has led to such a chilling restriction on speech, that my speech here today could get me fined or jailed if given there.

If you like what Frank Turek had to say there, just keep in mind that he’s written a book about the issue.

And I just have to throw in a quick quote from another case in favor of natural marriage by Ryan T. Anderson (one of the famous Gang of Three who wrote that fabulous new book on marriage).

Excerpt:

Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing.

Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children. It would deny as a matter of policy the ideal that a child needs a mom and a dad. We know that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and a father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and cause welfare programs to grow even more.

In recent years marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. Redefining marriage represents the culmination of this revisionism: Emotional intensity would be the only thing left to set marriage apart from other kinds of relationships. Redefining marriage would put a new principle into the law—that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is.

Redefining marriage to abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity would also make other essential characteristics—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional. But marriage can’t do the work that society needs it to do if these norms are further weakened. All Americans, especially conservatives who care about thriving civil society capable of limiting the state, should be alarmed.

Redefining marriage is a direct and demonstrated threat to religious freedom that marginalizes those who affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman. We have already seen this in neighboring Canada and right here in places such as Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

I keep hearing people talk about tolerance, tolerance, tolerance. But I don’t think they understand the purpose of marriage. If they did, they would see that we need what marriage provides, and that we need to promote it. The marriage issue is not a buffet where you pick what you like.

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19 Responses

  1. Cory C says:

    If I can remember correctly, Turek was smeared by a gay lobbyist leading to him losing his consulting job. Am I right?

  2. Kunoichi says:

    ” I don’t think they understand the purpose of marriage.”

    They have redefined the purpose of marriage into being all about the whims of the adults involved.

  3. ChristianJR4 says:

    Frank Turek writes:

    “Question 2: What would be the benefits to society if everyone lived faithfully in same-sex marriage? It would be the end of society itself.

    The truth is homosexual and heterosexual relationships are not the same, can never be the same, and will never yield the same benefits to individuals or society. We hurt everyone, especially children, by pretending otherwise.”

    Question 3: What would be the benefits to society if everyone lived faithfully in a traditional marriage but had no children? It would be the end of society itself.

    Therefore……let’s force married people to have children, and prohibit opposite sex persons who can’t have children from getting married. Ah, but let me guess, Frank Turek won’t be going down that road.

    Frank Turek just doesn’t get it. Not all marriages are equally beneficial to society. Still, just because some may be less beneficial to society doesn’t therefore mean we ought to pass laws restricting certain individuals from getting married, such as those who can’t have children, or those who choose not too. Why then restrict it for same sex couples?

    Honestly, the more I hear apologists speak on the issue of same-sex marriage, the more I’m convinced they really don’t have any good arguments against it, and that the real motivation for their opposition is only their religious beliefs.

    And no Mr. Turek, this “speech” of yours wouldn’t get you fined in Canada; the recent supreme court ruling involving Mr. Whatcott is not an example of this, which I’m almost sure you’re probably referring to.

    • [I initially linked a particular case to show how free speech critical of homosexuality is dealt with in Canada]

      Regarding the case against gay marriage, I’ve published a secular case against gay marriage, and religion has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

      Regarding “forcing married couples to have children”, no one is advocating that. Not sure where you got that from.

      Hey, can you explain to me what the qualification is for marriage on your view? What is the standard that you are using to decide who should be allowed to be married. Can anyone get married, on your view?

      • ChristianJR4 says:

        I already agree with Ezra Levant in his mission to dissolve the Human Rights Commissions in Canada. They do indeed tend to be censorship machines than in genuinely protecting against hate-speech. That said, this case comes nowhere close to what Frank Turek has put out. Consider the invective and outrageous remarks put forward by the Reverend Stephen Boissoin (the capital letters are my own emphasis):

        [REDACTED]

        Contrasting this kind of kind of anti-Christ like, pathetic speech with that of Frank Turek’s measured, albeit misguided, article makes it clear that Mr. Turek is well within the bounds of free speech in Canada.

        With respect to your case against gay marriage Wintery Knight, I know it doesn’t involve religious arguments, but can you honestly say that religion isn’t motivating your opposition against it. Would you still be against same-sex marriage if you were not a Christian, but an atheist?

      • ChristianJR4 says:

        You said:

        “Regarding “forcing married couples to have children”, no one is advocating that. Not sure where you got that from.”

        Yes,of course no one is advocating for that position. But if we follow Frank Turek’s reasoning in his article to its logical conclusion I’d think we’d logically end up in that position. His argument against gay marriage appears to be based on the lack of perceived benefit it brings to society involving children. If this is his argument, which it appears to be so, then why not restrict other individuals who also lack the ability to bring the benefits to society that he has in mind?

        And my standard for civil marriage is one in which two people who love each other desire to get married, but that such a relationship, once it is recognized as a marriage, does not plausibly entail obvious negative social consequences or social policy.

        • First, I do want to have other restrictions on marriage, like abolishing no-fault divorce laws, and eliminating subsidies for single motherhood, and rewarding married couples who stay together to raise their children to be the next generation of law-abiding workers and taxpayers. Opposition to sam-sex marriage is no more or less important to me than these other issues, and more besides. (I opposed to the hook-up culture as well, because recreational premarital sex undermines the stability of relationships, putting the stability that children need at risk)

          So you think that love is the standard. OK, so then why only two people? Why not more people, if they all love each other and want to be married?

        • “And my standard for civil marriage is one in which two people who love each other desire to get married, but that such a relationship, once it is recognized as a marriage, does not plausibly entail obvious negative social consequences or social policy.”

          Obvious to who? To you? It’s obvious to a lot of people that recognizing same sex “marriages” does indeed produce negative social consequences. That was one of the main points of Turek’s article.

          Also, not promoting a behavior and restricting or prohibiting it are completely different things. One does not entail the other. The same is true for promoting a behavior and requiring it. They are not the same and one does not entail the other.

          The reason that we do not force married couples to have children is that forcing people to do such things is a violation of their inalienable right to liberty. However, there is no right to marry whoever one wishes. Thus, not recognizing same sex couples as being married is not a violation of anyone’s rights.

          And government treats all people the same now. There is no unfairness. Everyone has the same right to marry a single person, of the opposite sex, of legal age, who is not a close relative and who consents to marry them. The government doesn’t ask or care if the people getting married “love” each other. That is totally irrelevant to marriage, legally speaking.

          • ChristianJR4 says:

            “Obvious to who? To you? It’s obvious to a lot of people that recognizing same sex “marriages” does indeed produce negative social consequences. That was one of the main points of Turek’s article.”

            Is that so? I bet the vast majority of people opposed to same sex marriage in the U.S. can’t articulate their reasons for being so past “the Bible is against it”, or “that’s what I was raised to believe”. This style of argumentation by Turek and others like him who argue against same-sex marriage based on alleged negative social consequences is a relatively recent phenomenon in response mostly to the ever increasing support of same-sex marriage among the public, and one that notably isn’t supported by mainstream academic research on same-sex relationships and their consequences on society. The negative social consequences envisioned by Frank Turek boils down to simply “it’s all about the children”, “they can’t produce children” and “all these bad things might happen if we legalize same-sex marriage”. I can think of many counter arguments to his claims based on sound research and the obvious benefits that these relationships could produce; one would be hard pressed, however, to do the same for already mentioned polygamous sort.

            “Also, not promoting a behavior and restricting or prohibiting it are completely different things. One does not entail the other. The same is true for promoting a behavior and requiring it. They are not the same and one does not entail the other.

            The reason that we do not force married couples to have children is that forcing people to do such things is a violation of their inalienable right to liberty. However, there is no right to marry whoever one wishes. Thus, not recognizing same sex couples as being married is not a violation of anyone’s rights”

            By the word “restricting”, I mean’t specifically the restricting of people to get married in certain situations (ie. not promoting it according to Turek). Turek’s reasoning seems to be that because same-sex couples cannot biologically produce children the government ought not to recognize their relationship equally as a marriage to those of opposite sex couples. But why not then apply this to opposite couples who can’t have children for themselves and conclude that the government equally ought not to recognize their relationship as a marriage? Turek seems to be singling out same sex couples for special consideration.

            And true, you can’t force married people to have children for the reason that you described, but if children are so paramount to the marriage institution as Frank Turek imagines, then one wonders why the government doesn’t require it anyways. If liberty is the reason for the voluntary situation of traditional couples opting not to have children, then why not just permit same-sex couples to get married and fall within those exception cases of people not having children? And If promotion (based on children) is what you’re really worried about, then simply let the government promote the desire of so many same-sex couples to raise children.Frank Turek seems to completely overlook this aspect of same-sex relationships.Or does Frank Turek actually believe that same-sex couples adopting unfortunate children out of orphanages is not a benefit on society?

            “And government treats all people the same now. There is no unfairness. Everyone has the same right to marry a single person, of the opposite sex, of legal age, who is not a close relative and who consents to marry them. The government doesn’t ask or care if the people getting married “love” each other. That is totally irrelevant to marriage, legally speaking.”

            I here this argument all the time and I find it so unsympathetic to what so many gay people have to go through. For a person such as myself who can’t form sexual attractions or emotional connections to members of the opposite sex, how is this comforting? How is it fair? The only way I can get married under this state of affairs is if I force myself to get with someone I find sexually repulsive. Of course you’ll probably just say “too bad, that’s the way it works”, but I’d bet that you’d almost certainly be saying that from your privileged heterosexual position. If you actually knew what it was like to be gay while also desiring to be married you’d understand why this type of response just doesn’t wash with gay people as being fair and equal. Moreover, this kind of response could be used for undeniably immoral laws like the miscegenation laws that existed prior to 1967 in the U.S. Just imagine the conversation:

            Pre 1940′s John: “Does the government treat all people the same now?”
            Pre 1940′s Lindsay: “Sure, white people can’t marry black people and black people can’t marry white people. Everyone has the same rights you see. There is no unfairness”.

            Yeah….sounds perfectly fair and just to me.

          • So do you think, then, that the difference between men and women are as inconsequential to children as the differences between skin colors?

            Also, do you think that children do better with mothers and fathers, or do you think that mothers and fathers are optional? Do you think that children have a right to a mother and a father, or should adults just be able to do whatever they want and children just have to live with it because they are smaller and weaker than selfish adults who want to be happy regardless of who is harmed?

            Also, do you think that a stranger is as safe and loving for the child as their own biological parent is likely to be?

            Do you think that single motherhood harms children? Should we celebrate and affirm single motherhood as being equivalent to marriage?

            Do you think that divorce harms children? Should we celebrate and affirm divorce as being equivalent to marriage?

          • ChristianJR4 says:

            “So do you think, then, that the difference between men and women are as inconsequential to children as the differences between skin colors?”

            I do think there are differences between men and women that have some effect on a child’s upbringing, I just don’t think they are nearly as important to a child’s upbringing as you seem to think they are.

            “Also, do you think that children do better with mothers and fathers, or do you think that mothers and fathers are optional? Do you think that children have a right to a mother and a father, or should adults just be able to do whatever they want and children just have to live with it because they are smaller and weaker than selfish adults who want to be happy regardless of who is harmed?”

            Your questions depend on individual cases and circumstances. Do children do better with mothers and fathers? If the alternative is a single parent then clearly yes. If the mother and father are bad parents then not necessarily. This applies to same sex couples as well. Should children have a right to a mother and a father? Not at the exclusion of all same sex couples. I think children fundamentally ought to be able to have a family that can lovingly support and care for them. If same-sex couples can do this responsibly then I see no good reason to restrict them from adoption rights. Indeed, I think any honest person can see that a child raised by a loving, caring and responsible same sex couple is obviously better than a situation in which that child has no parents and is living in an orphanage or under foster care.

            “Also, do you think that a stranger is as safe and loving for the child as their own biological parent is likely to be?”

            Again, this depends on certain situations and circumstances. If the biological parents decide that they don’t even want their child then obviously a stranger(s) whom have expressed a willingness to love and care for that child are going to be more safer and loving for the child.

            Perhaps you’re mainly referring to the ideal situations involving children. Maybe you’re asking something like “if a mother and father are loving and responsible, is this preferable to strangers, single parenthood, same sex couples etc”. I would answer yes, all things being equal that is preferable. But the fact of the matter is that reality isn’t like this. There are situations when children can’t be raised by their biological parents, for whatever reasons, and if so, then I see no reason why a committed and responsible same sex couple can’t care for these children. To me this is as obvious as night and day in terms of the benefits it provides to society concerning the well being of children. Of course all of this entails that same-sex couples have a role in raising children, which therefore undermines the arguments put forward by Turek against same-sex marriage.

            “Do you think that single motherhood harms children? Should we celebrate and affirm single motherhood as being equivalent to marriage?

            Do you think that divorce harms children? Should we celebrate and affirm divorce as being equivalent to marriage?”

            Yes, I think that single motherhood and divorce generally harms children, since it separates children from the other half of their typical support structure.

          • Oh, here’s something else for you:
            http://blog.acton.org/archives/50857-when-free-speech-died-in-canada.html

            Not sure if this will matter to you, since it is written by Christians who care about free speech.

          • ChristianJR4 says:

            I read large parts of the report from the supreme court of Canada, and agree with their final assessment. They struck down parts of the Saskatchewan human rights decision and upheld others in their case against Mr. Whatcott.

            And it’s not that the article you linked to in your post is written by a Christian who care about free speech. It’s that the author is just wrong when he claims that the Bible can be deemed as a hate speech document. The report clearly states that Bible passages can’t be taken as inspirations to hate speech and that “courts cannot be drawn into the business of attempting to authoritatively interpret sacred texts such as the Bible”.

            In any case, even if this is a bad day for free speech, Frank Turek’s piece against SSM comes nowhere even close to the kind of rhetoric and statements made by Mr. Whatcott in his anti-gay flyers.

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