It has been a constant charge from those opposed to same-sex marriage that marriage equality will lead, somehow, to the collapse of society. Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain pushed this idea, once again, in a video aimed at stoking fears within the people of Washington State.
To suddenly change the God-given and time honored understanding of marriage would be a very harmful thing for our state and for the world. Put simply, it is not in the compelling interest of the state to change the definition of marriage. There are many ramifications for such a redefinition. Suffice it to say, should marriage be redefined in our state the very foundational nature of marriage for the good and strength of human society would be harmed beyond repair.
The reality is that the definition of marriage is not God-given, and certainly not time honored. The religious sanction of marriage did not come into being in Christianity until well after the codification of the Bible. It was about AD500 when the early Catholic Church was forming that marriage as a sacred rite was even decided upon, and then, only upon the slimest of religious grounds.
Most early Catholic leaders argued that, since Christ never married, marriage was not something that God saw as fitting. They argued that humans should remain celibate and chaste throughout life and devote themselves to spiritual matters. Eventually, a compromise was struck whereby the Catholic priesthood would remain celibate, but the laity would not, and in order to sanctify people having sex, they made up a rationale regarding God approving of marriage based solely upon the miracle at Canaan.
Sartain’s rationale mirrors that of one judge who ruled against the Lovings in Loving v. Virginia. That judge stated “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
The Tennessee Supreme Court even stated back before Loving that interracial marriages would be a “calamity full of the saddest and gloomiest portent to the generations that are to come after us.” Another judge stated “Civilized society has the power of self-preservation, and, marriage being the foundation of such society, most of the states in which the Negro forms an element of any note have enacted laws inhibiting intermarriage between the white and black races.”
So, the question then is, how is society suppose to collapse should same-sex marriage be enacted given that it did not collapse when interracial marriage became law?
Most of these fears of how society is going to collapse come from an attempt to preserve the old views of gender and sex in society. The fear is that these changes in how women and men interact will threaten the power of men in society and diminish the patriarchal institutions such as the Catholic Church.
Male-centered society has always tended to define society between men and not-men. Men are anyone who is born with a penis at birth and not-men are everyone else. To male-centered society, men penetrate not-men. Anyone men who dare to become not-men are automatically anathema and must be suppressed or destroyed. This is one of the reasons why, despite the fact that there are many anti-lesbian hate crimes, the anti-gay groups are often focused solely on male homosexuality. To their mind, all gay men engage in anal intercourse, and the act of being penetrated means that this person who has been penetrated has chosen to become a not-man, and to choose to be a not-man is a debasement of all masculinity. After all, male-centered society believes that men are greater than not-men.