Marriage, family alleged to be terms searching for new uses

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By David Tulis

The debate over Chattanooga’s domestic partnership ordinance and its repeal often flings itself upon a haze of unreality. The question is quite different than what backers of the gay theory propose. The issue before the voters is not about emotion; it’s not about whether giving gay partner benefits ends a long oppression, opens the way for loving partnerships to be rewarded as family and the basic claims of equality.

The conflict is not about emotion and injustice against gays. The conflict is over words and their content. What is marriage? What is family? The arguments in favor of Mr. Anderson and gay benefits presuppose the very point in dispute. They presuppose that marriage is a wide-open and malleable concept, that it is open, and that practitioners of homosexual sex are oppressed by not being allowed in, and not being treated in the same category as lawful families.

Are family, are marriage, understood already, and fixed in human society? Or, as the Andersonians suggest, are these terms wandering about, seeking to attach themselves to new forms of human activity?

To hear same-sexers (please call LGBTers lugbutts for short) tell it, marriage and family have never been defined positively and surely. If they have, it has been for the purpose of sexual oppression and harassment. They are terms unmoored, drifting across the landscape of civilization, as if they had had too much to drink.

Family is not a man and a woman, married, legally committing to live together before God and man, conceiving their relationship as producing of children, that warm bosom into which they arrive and are at first given tender suck.

If gays appeal to emotion and sympathy, the family man resists by appealing to the families of the gay activists themselves. They were not born to machines, but to couples, a mother and father. They were conceived most likely in the normal miracle of conception, without scientific apparatus standing by with syringes, swabs and petri dishes. The vote Aug. 7 in Chattanooga for the sanity of the ordinary appeals to the idea that there is a norm, a universe and not a multiverse, a standard based on creation — a standard based on the distinction between the sexes, that unvarying and amazing diversity between man and woman, who are in love brought together in marriage, that most amazing and self-fulfilling poetry.

Family is not loose nomenclature, a clipping in an editor’s set of index cards of disconnected words. Family is not a shell, waiting for new definitions. Marriage is not the abstraction into which the judges convert their understanding so as not to see the power of God’s creation, human history and the plainness and tedium of human tradition. Rather, marriage is a “comprehensive, exclusive, permanent union that is intrinsically ordered to producing new life,” as Ryan T. Anderson puts it, while the gay or “consent-based” view of marriage sees it as a commitment marked by emotional union.

ACTION STEP: Inform your friends about the coming plebiscite in Chattanooga against its domestic partnership benefits ordinance Aug. 7.  Buy and read What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis et al. Please make use of this website as a resource; click the category “Gollum’s bedroom.”

David Tulis is married, the father of four home educated children, and a deacon at Brainerd Hills Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga.

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