Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Gay Marriage

Gay marriage is once again a thorny question, I see.  But marriage is what you want it to be.

The Church of England seems to have a bit of trouble knowing what it believes in. It should be telling its followers the will of God so they don't get any nasty surprises when they die, but either they simply don't know the will of God, and have to make it up as they go along, or they are just one more social organistion jockeying for influence by following a trend and calling it leadership. Either way, you wonder what use the CofE is to those who seek moral guidance. The Catholic Church at least makes it clear that it's passing on the Boss's orders and if you don't like them you can take your chance with Him.

Marriage looks far too much like people giving other people permission to do what they want and to think of themselves in the way they choose. I dislike the very idea of marriage as a social ritual. Marriage is not about other people, it is a matter for the contracting parties.

Nearly all societies have taken it upon themselves to ritualize union in some way, and to reserve the right to give permission before permitting or tolerating overt sexual union and breeding, with the consequent restriction of freedom of all involved. The desire of gay couples to have the government determine whether or not they are married strikes me as a bit perverse. Why would they want to have their freedom restricted in this way? Presumably it isn't all about tax or inheritance.

Where’s the problem? It doesn’t fit the church’s idea of what marriage is, but it doesn’t matter. It needs to fit the couple’s idea of what their mutual commitment means and how they choose to make it public, if indeed they do. I would rather the state got out of the marriage business and left people to define their own unions. Not everyone will take your union as seriously as you do, but the law can't do anything about that. After all, it is likely to be the one of the most important things in your life, whereas almost nobody else actually gives a damn.

This has got a bit confused and rambling. In short, though I like Marriage as state, at least the way I'm experiencing it at the moment, I reject the idea of marriage as paperwork. I only got married because i was already Married, and should I cease to be Married I may or may not do more paperwork to become unmarried, but at that point it will no longer matter. This post is therefore written from the perspective of one who doesn't understand why people who have never had to bother with the paperwork are so keen to be allowed top do it. I am quite certain I'm mising something; the question is, is that something more than trivial?

Is it possible that we have reached such a state of dependence that we think nothing is real until a government official allows it to exist?

Forget politics and marry your horse if you want to. After all, you are as married as you think you are.


Vincent said...

Yes, I endorse your view on this, I think, but have my own simple position on the matter, which I wish would be more universally adopted.

I see marry, married, marriage as very traditional words, which doubtless exist in every language in the world, along with mother, father, child, eat, drink, birth, death. These are the words whose meaning remains unchanged over millennia because they refer to such basic concepts.

Many words have changed their meaning radically over the centuries, but not usually through diktat or political manipulation.

But then sexual politics was born, flexed its infant muscles and was delighted to find itself with extraordinary power to dictate and redefine moral standards, because somehow the masses cowered under its strident voice.

Today we have the spectacle of Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State dictating to the world on Gay Rights, and declaring that "being gay is not a Western invention".

Well, excuse me but it is. "Gay" originates in US slang and was used by gays to describe themselves, not being in use outside their own cliques till some time in the nineteen-forties. The word homosexual was invented by R. von Krafft-Ebing in the eighteen-nineties as a medical term.

Naturally the inclinations and practices have been around since the beginning of time. Different societies have taken different attitudes, according to whether they considered it tolerable or beneficial within society or particular enclaves of society, particularly in all-male institutions such as boarding schools, sailing ships, regiments, monasteries and so on.

The idea that you were born that way - that there are two kinds of men - is a modern one arising from the West, from psychologists and mainly from propagandists. Their greatest triumph has been - in America - to get liberal-minded citizens to swallow the idea that promoting gay rights, however defined by them the propagandists, is the same thing as stamping out race hate left over from the days of black slavery.

Homosexual acts used to be criminal in England too, till 1967. It merely meant that most men behaved discreetly without causing outrage. In Jamaica they are still illegal, and the people have a different attitude. Religion doesn't create the attitude but reflects it.

Any person with a sense of justice wants tolerance and equality. But the US Government is out of order on this one, and the word marriage should not be redefined by activists.

CIngram said...

Language is easily politicised because it's the first tool of manipulation, which is what politicians are good at. Get your definition/judgement in first and stick to it.

Most of the time I expect people to leave me alone, at least in matters that don't affect them, and so I do the same. I don't mind other people using the same word for the condition they feel the exist in as I do, even though we may not conceive those states identically.

But soem people do. Some people who were married in church want to be more married than people who had civil weddings, or no wedding at all; mixed sex couples want to be more married than gay couples. Conversely, many gay people want to feel the same as other couples (I imagine, or they would not campaign so vocally for permission to use the same word, a permission which, as I have said, I don't think they need to ask for).

James Higham said...

The CofE might but Christians know exactly.

CIngram said...


Christians know what they mean by it, but it isn't necessarily the same as what others may mean.

On the other hand, it is one thing to understand marriage in a different way to other people, and quite another, almost the opposite in fact, to demand that people interpret your marriage in the same way that you interpret theirs.

Vincent said...

I rather think you are being a little too liberal in stretching this idea that words can be so elastically interpreted. I'm not talking about metaphors. Metaphorically I can be married to anyone or anything.

I refer back to my first comment on this post, when I mentioned some basic words which in any language can be traced back over the millennia, because their meaning and use does not change: mother, father, child, eat, drink, birth, death. Marriage, one would think, is one of these. Or has been until recently. If it changes over a timeframe of 20 years this is a very odd event indeed.

I think you overdo the aspect of interpretation here.

CIngram said...


Sorry to be so late replying- I'm a very busy hedgehog at the moment.

As I said in the original post, I take a relaxed attitude to the idea of marriage because I very much want to be left alone to live what I think of as marriage in my own way. Thus I am prepared to accept other people's understanding of the word, and take their interpretation of their relations on their own terms, as long as they don't try to tell me what marriage should mean to me. Undoubtedly this makes me overly liberal,but it's more laziness than an intellectual or moral position.

The churches will define things in their own way, with or without attempts to identify the will of God, and we are free to accept or reject their interpretions. The law, as usual, is obsessed with making a perfect world according to its own designs, without regardless of what people think or want and even what they are. As such, and because this particular matter doesn't affect me or bother me much, I tend to ignore the legislators.