A spike in my otherwise flatlined traffic alerts me to the fact that Bill Vallicella has breathed some new life into an old post of mine which connects the same-sex marriage debate with postmodernist anti-realism. Check out Bill’s commentary and then consider the following:
Opponents of same-sex marriage (a.k.a. defenders of real marriage) are routinely characterized as hateful. But who are the real haters? What does the empirical evidence tell us?
On May 8, residents of North Carolina will have the opportunity to vote on whether the following amendment (“Amendment One”) should be added to the state’s constitution:
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
Not surprisingly, numerous yard signs are on display around Charlotte, where I live: some for the amendment, some against. One house on a busy road between my home and my office has three “Against” signs in its yard, right next to the road. They’ve been there for over a month now and no one has removed them, defaced them, or otherwise interfered with them. Free speech has been honored.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine put a “For” sign outside his house in a quiet middle-class neighborhood. Within days it had been vandalized with obscenities. A few weeks ago the seminary where I teach placed a single “For” sign on its grounds. Since then our receptionist has received what she described as a series of “ugly” telephone calls. Apparently these aren’t isolated incidents — far from it. They’re just two instances of a pattern of intolerance, intimidation, and flagrant disregard for free speech.
So who are the real haters here? Perhaps Freud’s projection theory has something to it after all.
Addendum: Another despicable example from yesterday’s local news. (This is also close to home: Pastor Kulp is a friend and a graduate of RTS.)
Consultations have been launched, first in Scotland and now in England and Wales, to consider whether the definition of marriage should be changed to include same-sex partnerships. Some opponents have argued, on various grounds, that marriage shouldn’t be redefined. Commendable as this response may seem to most Christians, it concedes far too much, for it misleadingly implies that marriage is the sort of thing that could in principle be redefined. (If you don’t see this point, just reflect on the difference between “You shouldn’t drive faster than the speed limit” and “You shouldn’t drive faster than the speed of light”.)
To grant that marriage could be redefined is to capitulate to a postmodernist anti-realism according to which all social structures and institutions are mere human conventions and there is really no such thing as human nature, understood in traditional metaphysical terms. We must insist that marriage is not something that can be defined and redefined as we see fit. Marriage is a divine institution, not a human social construction like chess or money that we invented for our own purposes. There wasn’t a point in time at which humans ‘defined’ marriage in the way that, say, a foot was once defined as 12 inches. Marriage was bestowed upon us, not created by us.
If the traditional view of marriage is correct then the idea that we could redefine marriage to include same-sex partnerships is on a par with the idea that we could redefine elephants to include hippopotamuses. Only the most deluded postmodernist would say that elephants were defined by humans. (Don’t make the mistake here of confusing elephants with the English word ‘elephant’. Words don’t have trunks and tusks.) But of course, we humans didn’t define humans any more than we defined elephants. To think otherwise would be to put the cart before… well, the cart. And if marriage is grounded in the very nature of human beings, as the traditional view maintains, then we humans didn’t define marriage any more than we defined ourselves. Nor are we in any position whatsoever to redefine marriage. It simply can’t be done — and Christians, along with other traditionalists, should be quick to point out the presumption and absurdity of claims to the contrary.
The very fact that these consultations have been launched in the first place, never mind their final outcomes, reveals just how deeply Western culture has sunk into the mire of postmodernism.