In this writing, I would like to take the time to address the institution of marriage and discover its context within modern society. I will deal heavily in the philosophy and underpinnings of marriage primarily, but not exclusively, from a biblical standpoint. I will also seek to point towards an objective, rather than subjective, moral value paradigm for marriage.
To begin a task as monumental as this one could be, we must first begin with an acceptable definition of “rights”, more specifically, “human rights”, what they are and what it means, and “civil rights” and what they are and from where they are derived. If we are successful in rendering an acceptable definition of both human rights and civil rights, I believe that we will not only go a long way to understanding how rights are applied within society, but also discover the foundation of each type of right and why both human and civil rights are essential to every individual.
With that said, I will offer the following definitions:
Human Rights: These are rights which result from the condition of being human. These are rights that the founding Fathers of the United States claimed to be “inalienable” and from “God”, given to every man who has been created in the same “equal” state of being. Human rights also offer a certain set of undeniable values that stem from humanity. The pursuit of “Life”, “Liberty, and “Happiness” are among the ideals embedded within the human right value paradigm. Interestingly, while one does also have the right to pursue lower values and ideals, the pursuit of higher values are generally those associated with “human rights” pointing out or at least suggesting that humanity itself is based on positively evolving pursuits and values rather than negative values or pursuits.
Civil Rights: These are rights conferred upon individuals by the Civil, State, or other governmental authority. These rights may or may not exist as a result being human or the human condition. To a degree, civil rights are subjective in nature and are open to the subjective application of societal values and norms. Civil rights have often been human rights that were previously undiscovered or overlooked by authority, such as the right of freedom, that is a condition intrinsic to humanity, but was not recognized civilly, at least in the United States until the 13th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution.
What I will do is attempt to use those definitions to unravel the institution and concept of marriage and affirm the foundation of the concept within society in general.
Procreation & Marriage
It is procreation that allows the human race to continue. Without procreation the human race cannot be sustained. The right of procreation is natural and has never been restricted or otherwise controlled by the state. This is a human right and the reason or cause for the existence of life itself which cannot be granted by the state or civil authority. The essence of this is that the state cannot confer to individuals what is not theirs to confer or give.
Based upon rights of procreation, the institution of marriage, which society has recognized as the foundation of the family, cannot solely be a matter of the extension of civil rights. It (marriage) by virtue of its nature, must be a matter of human rights. Even in instances where there is or has been an inability to procreate or when there is a choice made to avoid procreation, it is still yet obvious that the procreative union is the primary standard for what society deems marriage and ultimately family.
As stated, marriage cannot be defined outside of its human rights context and application. To provide any other context for the definition of marriage is purely arbitrary. More specifically, if the state can redefine marriage, or what makes a marriage a marriage, then it must provide a basis upon which to do so. To merely argue that marriage is a “civil right” as has been posed in nearly every venue where alternate definitions of marriage have been accepted, is circular reasoning and is there fore a logical fallacy. i.g: “These two should be able to marry because they should be able to marry” is not a logically coherent argument.
Civility & The State
Nearly everyone recognizes that the state or government can extend a civil right as it so chooses, but the extension of civil rights has traditionally been required to meet certain standards and criteria prior to acceptance. Both interest, benefits and truth must be weighed carefully.
One such criteria of state intervention into these matters is “compelling interest”. Compelling interest basically asks “why is this necessary?” or “is this essential?”. The simple question could be is it essential to the state that marriage exist and what benefit does the state gain from the regulation of the institution? Marriage as an institution provides clear benefits not only to the preservation of mankind, but to the state as well through continued revenues (taxes) and individual productivity.
Further, we must look at where the benefits come from. The question is, do the benefits exist merely needing recognition, or is this a new right invented wholesale?
e.g: Civil rights is a natural extension of rights related to race or creed. Whether there was a “civil” right of equality or not, it is readily recognized from a human biological standpoint that skin color makes no significant difference in the scope of “humanity”. Therefore, under this example, the civil right of racial equality is only an extension of the human right of racial equality. Recognizing racial equality as a civil right provides nothing new. The extension of the civil right of racial equality only recognizes the relationship of human equality that already exists. Ultimately the extension of racial equality as a “civil right” is essential and necessary for the advancement of the state and for all people.
One could also ask, “how is the state made better by associating marriage with “civil” rights? Or is it the states business to even be concerned? To balance this out, one could also ask, do the individuals, who desire to be married, suffer because certain rights are not recognized as civil rights ? This is where another criteria in assessing rights, “equal protection”, comes in.
Equal protection has driven the acceptance of homosexual marriage through the court and legal system because it is a legal doctrine. In short, under the law, all individuals have and enjoy rights of equal protection to live peaceably in society. This alone levels the playing field between the “majority” and the “minority” and guarantees that the minority won’t be swept away by the majority and will be able to equally participate within society. Historically, federal equal protection laws were the centerpiece of laws that overcame alternate state laws and regulations opposing interracial marriages in the Southern United States(1) A reinterpretation of equal protection laws are currently the foundation for laws in favor of the ratification of homosexual marriage. By far and large, the relationship between homosexuality, homosexual marriage and the legal system has depended upon an expanded and specific definition of what it means under the law to have “equal protection”.
At any rate, and without entering down the equal protection rabbit-hole, the extension of homosexual marriage has not been based on the nature of the institution itself, but based on the interpretation of the institution’s relationship to equal protection and the obligation or the duty of the state or government to “protect” all of its citizens. In short, the civil right extension that has been granted to redefine the institution of marriage is not based on human rights and is not true to a human rights paradigm or foundation. This is problematic as we will discuss further.
Another aspect of human rights is that they (all rights) are based and rooted in truth. All rights that exist, both human and civil, must exist because they are true. Because the redefinition of marriage has been disengaged from its relationship to human rights, the set of civil rights established and endorsed to shore up alternate definitions of marriage are themselves disengaged from the truth and are therefore inadequate to add to what humanity teaches us about marriage.
What this writing affirms, if it affirms anything at all, is that human rights are not merely arbitrary in nature and that civil rights are not merely a product of societal trends and desires, neither should a civil right be conferred, invented and or created to address matters in which the state does not have a compelling interest.
Homosexual Marriage, Are We On The Right Track?
To grant or confer the right of marriage to a homosexual couple, as a matter of human rights, is not rooted in truth as I believe this article has demonstrated. To confer the right of marriage to a homosexual couple based on civil rights, is not only arbitrary, but has no foundation in the paradigm of truth that would be the essential foundation in affirming human rights which can be the only basis for civil rights and civil rights legislation. Further, and quite surprisingly, we find that to confer marriage upon a homosexual couple does not meet the level of scrutiny normally applied by the state when the extension of civil rights are considered.
In truth, the homosexual is no less human by not being allowed to marry. There are many individuals, such as those who practice various forms of prodiginy who are not allowed to marry. They are no less human because of the restriction of marriage. On the other hand, allowing the homosexual to marry seeks to change the unchangeable nature of the foundation of marriage which has been proven to build society and which is rooted in truth.
The rights of the homosexual should be protected as the rights of all humankind should be. However, to create a new right and call it “civil” absent of any foundation, is disingenuous and is a wholesale encroachment upon a paradigm of truth that under-girds all humanity. In addition I cannot see any compelling reason that homosexual marriage should be granted and approved within law, while other marital arrangements denied. That bias in favor of homosexual marriage to the exclusion of all other marital arrangements is a double standard and as such is sufficient to affirm that the endorsement of homosexual marriage is a deviation from the right track of marriage and is therefore not in line with the solid foundation of human rights.
Pastor Harvey Burnett
1- Antimiscegenation statutes were held to be unconstitutional in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct.1817, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1010, because they violated Equal Protection of the laws.
Questions & Push-Backs:
Q1- Has the homosexual also been created equal?
Q2- Does not the homosexual also enjoy the privilege of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Q3- If that is the case, then how can the request for the homosexual’s right to marry be denied?
A3- Homosexual have the right to marry within the proscribed context of human rights. The right to marry has always been defined and rooted within natural laws, procreation and values of truth.
Q4- Not all heterosexual couples choose to have children. Some cannot have children due to medical reasons and various circumstances. Yet these people, because they are heterosexual, are recognized as being married. Homosexuals, may not be able to biologically procreate, but we can adopt children which is a benefit to society, therefore nearly all arguments of procreation are overcome and ineffective as a restriction on homosexual marriage.
A4- Procreation is only one part of element of the human right to marry and marriage. Truth values rooted within human nature is another part which is essential to the validation of a human right. An imitation of truth does not a truth make. Although having children certainly does not make a marriage or a marital union, having children is an aspect of marriage in line with the natural foundation of marriage from which human rights flow. To engage and endorse marriage because it satisfies or addresses socioeconomic needs to the exclusion of human values centered and based upon truth is disingenuous. While adoption is commendable for loving parents, the act of adoption is yet not an act of procreation in and of itself.