Response to Macklemore II: Arguments Against Gay Marriage Which Do Not Presuppose God

When I wrote the response to Macklemore, I was supposed to, after pointing out the religious arguments against gay marriage, the secular arguments against it, but I forgot. It was going to stay forgotten too, except that I randomly stumbled on a video of one Dan Savage on Youtube, who I can tell is not a philosopher or an honest person, or a respectful person. I have no problem with people who draw a hard line, but when you are speaking to high school students and you use words like, “bullshit” for the Bible and you see students walking out and then you proceed to make jokes about them in their absence, that shows nothing but childish disrespect, so I had to respond. Dan Savage argues that he has a right to defend himself, but his arguments can be contested. In fact, in this post, I will do one better. He says that it is hypocritical that Christians only believe one part of Leviticus, which is preposterous (look at my original response to Macklemore and tell me if Leviticus even comes up), but I will not argue that, I will do Mr. Savage one better and proceed to give only secular arguments against his position. In fact, the arguments will be organized in such a way that each argument has more commitments than the first. It starts from absolutely no philosophical commitments other than logical consistency. So, without further ado:

First, we have the legal argument. As I said, this argument assumes nothing philosophical other than logical consistency. Most gay couples that I have talked to (and surprise surprise I do have gay friends) say that it is about more than just “a piece of paper.” Of course, the ability to be able to marry is important, but a lot of them argue that they deserve the right to get the tax benefits that normal married couples do. Well, the following is a proof that gay couples do not deserve the same benefits.

Let us investigate into the reason why married couples have, historically, gotten special benefits and privileges. In order to have this completely free from Christian influence, let us look at the pagan Roman opinion on the matter. It is funny that a lot of people cite the Romans as an example of a culture that was very much pro gay marriage, when this is the opinion of the Roman jurist Modestinus regarding marriage, “the union of a male and a female in a complete life partnership, the sharing of divine and human law.” (D. 23.2.1) There is no record of any gay marriage ever occurring in Rome and, more importantly, there was never a law against it. Now, some people may see this as a point for gay marriage, but the truth is that that proves a stronger point for the people against. Consider the fact that the US has no rules to regulate teleportation, this shows that there is no need to regulate it, because no one is doing it. The same is true for gay marriage in Rome.

That, however, does not prove enough. Our quest was to figure out why married couples get special benefits. In Rome, if you were the father of three male children, you would get special tax breaks and benefits (sort of like the Feast of the Family in Bacon’s New Atlantis). It is obvious that the birthing of children was seen as a benefit to the state, so it is quite obvious that the state would give married couples special benefits for it. Ah, proponents say, that’s true enough, but weren’t people who were naturally infertile allowed to marry in Rome, even though they could not bear children? True enough, but even to this day those things are not clear cut. For example, a good friend of mine in Scotland was born to a mother who was labelled “infertile.” In fact, it is not a very unusual case, because even today, when we speak about infertility, we speak about a probability, not a clear-cut case. In Rome, these issues were even more muddled and people knew it (because they could see children born to infertile parents), so they allowed people who were labelled infertile to be married, because it could be that they were labelled so inaccurately (it is better to let ten guilty people walk than one innocent person go to prison). On this basis, because gay couples cannot procreate, they should not be able to get the special benefits which are given as part of the marriage package (i.e. the agreement with the state to bring for children) for male-female couples.

Second, we’ll assume the least possible about anything. Being a Protagoras-style relativist just is not logically consistent to the point where one cannot use human language to communicate if we believe it (and even believing it may be contradictory, but that’s beyond the point). One position that you can make work, however, is the cultural relativist. Of course, I think there is an easy way to disprove this brand of relativism, too, but I would think that most proponents of gay marriage would be very sympathetic to such a philosophical position, so I am going to prove, from it, that gay marriage is still non-permissible. Now, because we are talking about America, I think most people would be willing to accept a democratic form of cultural subjectivism (I think it is also the most sympathetic to the gay cause). The basic point of this democratic cultural subjectivism is that, basically, whatever most people say is right is right. California has voted Preposition 8, but for the purposes of this argument, we will still consider them a pro gay marriage state. Now, for ease of calculation, we will also consider that in every state where gay marriage is law 51% of the people are for it and 49% against and that for every state where gay marriage is not allowed, 51% of the people are against it and 49% for it. Now, Texas and California, I think we can all agree, at least cancel each other out. That said, there are twelve states that allow same-sex marriage, which are some of the smaller states in the Union. Against this, there are still 36 states against it. That is to say, even if in each of these 36 states there were 49% of the people for gay marriage, there would still be more people against than for and, therefore, gay marriage is non-permissible if you’re a democratic cultural subjectivist. That is not even considering the fact that it would be heresy within an understanding of cultural subjectivism to try and change the status quo, because in the very act of accepting it is the status quo the cultural subjectivist accepts that it is the right thing to do.

Third, we will accept what the modern metaphysical and philosophy of mind orthodoxy tells us, which is that (through Kim’s dilemma) Eliminativism is probably the correct theory of mind and, therefore, the correct ontological basis for humans. Now, Eliminativism claims that traditional (what they refer to as “folk”) psychology is literally false, as false as the phlogiston theory of combustion. That means that beliefs, desires, etc. literally do not exist. The Churchlands, the champions of this theory, call for a complete drop of the aforementioned elements from language and some of their proponents believe that, eventually, Eliminativists will develop a new kind of language to fit the theory (as it stands, in this language, Eliminativism violates the Principle of Non-Contradiction). Now, if that’s true and the belief of gay people that they are gay literally does not exist, then we have a problem. If all we have to go on are atoms and molecules, then the principle of morality is biology, we should behave in the best way that ensures human survival and, as I understand it, that includes procreation. In that case, same-sex marriage and even same-sex intercourse is non-permissible.

Last, we come to Platonism, having moved through legalism, subjectivism, and the contemporary understanding of philosophy of mind. Because this is my backyard, there are several arguments I can present within the Platonic frame of reference.

1) The argument from anatomy: If the Timaeus is true and the Demiurge created everything (us included) according to the Forms, then our own bodies contain clues for wisdom and, if we are to seek wisdom truly, we should come to an understanding of the principles behind those clues. Because there is male and female, and because both male and female partake in the Form of the Good and because the male and female body are designed to unite in order to procreate, only male and female should be allowed to marry, for the purpose of procreation.

2) The argument from sources: The question at hand here is what gay sexual relations, and with it gay marriage, are supposed to fulfill. If they are simply there to fulfill desires, if they are simply there to satisfy eros, then they have insufficient standing and fall pray to the metaphor of the bottomless jug and the sieve in the Gorgias. Despite what the “brightest minds of the day” tell us, in the very Gorgias, Socrates (and through him Plato) and even Callicles, whom Socrates is debating, explicitly condemn the act of homosexual sex (right after the two metaphors, if you want to look it up). The axiom stands that, if sex is being approached with the eye of simply pleasure, i.e. having a desire and fulfilling it, it is like forever trying to fill a bottomless jug.

3) The argument from consequences: In the Republic, Book I, Socrates argues that one cannot be good by doing evil things and that all things that are not good are evil. It follows from that logic that we only should do things that are good. Well, in terms of everything we do, good things are those that bring us either a spiritual or a physical benefit. Gay sex, and by extension gay marriage, do not bring a spiritual benefit (because it is only the fulfillment of a desire) and, unlike eating, they do not bring physical benefit (gay sex and gay marriage do not strengthen the body, etc). Therefore, because it fails both categories of acceptable consequences, gay marriage is non-permissible.

4) The legal argument and objective knowledge: The first argument I presented, by itself, does not work, because you can make a similar argument in favor of slavery (that’s why I said it comes with the least baggage). However, if you take the three arguments above, which objectively profess that gay marriage is non-permissible and you add the legal argument on top of them, the case becomes stronger.

Well, I have stated my case, anyone who disagrees may feel free to respond, but I, too, have a right to defend myself.


4 comments on “Response to Macklemore II: Arguments Against Gay Marriage Which Do Not Presuppose God

  1. Cynical Roman says:

    I have a question. Plato and Socrates believed in a morality based on a flourishing life based on virtue. They also valued friendship. Surely marriage moves beyond physical pleasure, which not only is worthless as it does not pertain to the soul but attempts to fill the bottomless cup and moves on to a higher form of love. Therefore marriage leads to a flourishing life and, therefore, by not allowing homosexuals to marry we are not allowing them to fulfill their full potential. My question is, heterosexuals are also guilty of sex for the sake of pleasure so why do you only criticize homosexuals for this act?

    • You raise a very good couple of points, I will answer them in order.

      First, if any marriage is to be successful, it needs friendship. However, friendship does not need physical contact. Friendship is the love between two souls, the love which leads to the spiritual intercourse of dialogue and the spiritual fruit of wisdom. As so, there is no need to mix it with physical intercourse, though it can exist side-by-side.

      Sexual desire, like any other desire (though it is one of the stronger ones) is a controllable desire. If the intellect and will judge it to be done for an objectively good end with an objectively good motive, then it is good to do it, if not no.

      In the first part of this response, which was a sort of reducto against Macklemore’s “Same Love” song, at the end I mentioned that a lot of Christians seem to treat homosexual intercourse as if it were some special and especially damning kind of sin, when they use contraception in their sexual unions, fornicate, etc. Those, too, are wrong and of the same weight as homosexual sex.

      Within a Platonic framework, it goes without saying that the same thing goes for heterosexual couples. In this our time, where it seems that the only faux pas is to say that we can and should curb our sexual appetite, this teaching, both of the Church and of Platonism, seems particularly hard, however, we cannot let it go simply because it does not suit us. Quite on the contrary, because it seems so hard, we should cling to it even more, seeing there an opportunity for major growth in both self-control and courage.

  2. mary martinez says:

    (I just wanted to say thank you-you don’t have to publish my comment if it is not appropriate) .

    I would like to share something with you in regards to this topic. I was not aware of the “One Love” song but was watching the grammys when my daughter told my that a SSW was going to be staged there. I didn’t feel it right to change the channel and so I listened to the lyrics. I was hurt by his mocking of the use of holy water and the hatred towards religion in general. He doesn’t understand that we use holy water because WE ARE SINNERS-not the opposite. I am an incest survivor and in my confusion I considered myself gay/bi for many years. I left the church for 24 years and did ALOT of things, all the things you wrote about, I wanted to be happy and I wanted love and I believed that the church’s teachings were hateful up until 2009 when I had a radical reversion back to the church. It was hard fought for and at first I wanted to believe that you could discern for yourself based on feelings what you want to believe but that’s not true. Pain begets pain. I thought I was being honest when I identified as gay or bi. I thought I was let into some great truth by way of the abuses I suffered. My reaction to the abuse was to run away and create an identity for myself that was contrary to my faith because maybe there was a part of me that blamed my parent’s religion for what had happened. I even asked the priest who reconciled me, “How could a person who claimed to be catholic do this to their child?” Father just shook his head and said, “I don’t know. ” The years I spent away trying to dull my pain were very confusing. Society wanted to assure me that I was OK and that others were hateful. Misquoting the bible, cutting and pasting pieces of epistles to bolster arguments only made me more confused and destructive. In all those years I never felt peace. I felt like I was putting off the grief process and letting myself believe that god couldn’t love me. I figured I was too weak to stand up for myself so I never questioned why what I was doing didn’t make me whole again. I had a friend in 2008 who wanted to honestly know what catholics believe. I started to really think about it and I realized I wasn’t sure but I knew inside I was still catholic so I started reading, reading the scriptures that had been hijacked and the catechism and at the end I understood the love of god and what jesus was really saying to us in the gospels and most importantly I understood that sexuality is sacred, a gift and that all gifts given by god are for the purpose of his glory. How sex was used against me and later on by me was not to the glory of god.
    Sex is a complex thing that can be a source of joy and life but can be a source of pain and disconnection if not understood and respected.
    The young lady who sang on “One Love” during the grammys says she was molested as a child and was raised by a gay mom. I see myself in Miss Lambert. I know her pain and her struggles all too well.
    I am studying psychology now and maybe I will be a catholic therapist. I understand how sex can alter a person and how it can dictate the choices we make. It is easily separated from love-you can have sex without love and most people are ok with that. I think its hurtful and disgenuine to convolute the argument for equality by throwing LOVE into it for the purpose of invoking divisive speech that you can use as you label yourself a martyr. The song and the issue is about moral relativism and the right to force lawmakers to sanction immorality in the same way that it is now no longer illegal to cheat on your spouse in a hetero marriage or illegal to live together and have kids outside of marriage. I think it might have been easier for me to stay in that world had there not been opposition to gay marriage etc. but would I have ever been truly at peace, no. Legalization does not validity make nor does it bring real peace to the soul. Understanding that there is a singular universal truth is the only thing that does.
    God bless you, keep writing. Your sister, Mary Martinez.

    • Sorry I did not respond to this when you commented (but I was on a trip about 1200 miles away from my computer). The story that you shared is so touching that I dearly hope you will start your own blog or at least write more about it!

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