News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Not radical enough

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Gay “marriage” will lead to the destruction of the traditional understanding of the American family. It will open the door to a push for legalized polygamy — with “marriage” open to groups of people. Gay “marriage” doesn’t make sense because “marriage” is, by definition, a monogamous union between a man and a woman.

Are such pronouncements from the latest fundraising letter of a pro-family organization? Are they lifted from the much-derided comments of Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum?

No, on both counts. They are from one of the nation’s leading homosexual rights activists.

Judith Levine of the radical Village Voice newspaper wants full legitimization for gay and lesbian couples. Neither she nor her newspaper could be described as fans of what she derides as the “complementary-genitalia crowd.” Even so, Levine is skeptical of gay “marriage.” It is, she says, not radical enough.

In a recent article titled “Stop the Wedding,” Levine argues that gay “marriage” legitimizes gay relationships, but at too much of a cost. Gay “marriage” proponents, she writes, “in seeking to replicate marriage clause for clause and sacrament for sacrament,” may inadvertently “stall the achievement of real sexual freedom and social equality for everyone.” This is because, she says, “marriage” as defined as the union between two people in a monogamous union alienates “the queerer queers of all sexual persuasions — drag queens, club-crawlers, polyamorists, even ordinary single mothers or teenager lovers — further to the margins.”

Homosexual activists should call instead, she contends, for the complete societal destruction of marriage as a civil institution. Gay liberation could then be achieved by civil recognition of “personal partnerships” in the place of marriage. And these partnerships should be open to more than just two — which is, after all, a relic of Christian morality.

“Because American marriage is inextricable from Christianity, it admits participants as Noah let animals onto the ark,” Levine writes. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. In 1972 the National Coalition of Gay Organizations demanded the ‘repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit; and the extension of legal benefits to all persons who cohabit regardless of sex or numbers.'”

And such group “marriage” wouldn’t hurt women or children, Levine notes. “Would polygamy invite abuse of child brides, as feminists in Muslim countries and prosecutors in Mormon Utah charge? No. Group marriage could comprise any combination of genders. Guarantees of women’s and children’s rights and economic well-being would be more productive than outlawing multiple marriage.”

Levine’s progressive critique of gay “marriage” is one to which traditionalists would do well to listen. She recognizes that the issue at stake is about “marriage” as much as it is about “gay.” She recognizes that the seemingly inevitable civil recognition of gay unions is only part of the agenda of today’s sexual libertarians. And she recognizes that “marriage” is more than just a social contract. It is bound up in a particular understanding of an exclusive male/female union — a union Christians recognize as intentionally woven into the warp and woof of the created order.

And, on that, she is right.

The debate about marriage is, by definition, radical — because it deals with the root of human society. And marriage, at root, is a man and woman, created to complement one another physically, emotionally and spiritually, abandoning all others to cleave to one another — for life. With such the case, the gay rights movement’s assault on the Constitution might win, but their assault on nature never can.

That’s because gay “marriage” can never reflect the Creator’s intention — an intention written in the natural order and in human consciences and reflected in every human society since the primeval couple.

It just isn’t “radical” enough.
Russell D. Moore is assistant professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He also serves as executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. This commentary is from Moore’s new web log at www.henryinstitute.org.

    About the Author

  • Russell D. Moore