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Why "Gay Marriage" is Wrong

Robert A. J. Gagnon

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Advocates of homosexual practice often argue that "gay marriage," or at least homosexual civil unions, will reduce promiscuity and promote fidelity among homosexual persons. Such an argument overlooks two key points.

"Gay Marriage" as a Contradiction in Terms

First, legal and ecclesiastical embrace of homosexual unions is more likely to undermine the institution of marriage and produce other negative effects than it is to make fidelity and longevity the norm for homosexual unions. We will come back to this later.

Second, and even more importantly, homosexual unions are not wrong primarily because of their disproportionately high incidence of promiscuity (especially among males) and breakups (especially among females). They are wrong because "gay marriage" is a contradiction in terms. As with consensual adult incest and polyamory, considerations of commitment and fidelity factor only after certain structural prerequisites are met.

The vision of marriage found in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures is one of reuniting male and female into an integrated sexual whole. Marriage is not just about more intimacy and sharing one's life with another in a lifelong partnership. It is about sexual merger--or, in Scripture's understanding, re-merger--of essential maleness and femaleness.

The creation story in Genesis 2:18-24 illustrates this point beautifully. An originally binary, or sexually undifferentiated, adam ("earthling") is split down the "side" (a better translation of Hebrew tsela than "rib") to form two sexually differentiated persons. Marriage is pictured as the reunion of the two constituent parts or "other halves," man and woman.

This is not an optional or minor feature of the story. Since the only difference created by the splitting is a differentiation into two distinct sexes, the only way to reconstitute the sexual whole, on the level of erotic intimacy, is to bring together the split parts. A same-sex erotic relationship can never constitute a marriage because it will always lack the requisite sexual counterparts or complements.

By definition homosexual desire is sexual narcissism or sexual self-deception. There is either (1) a conscious recognition that one desires in another what one already is and has as a sexual being (anatomy, physiology, sex-based traits) or (2) a self-delusion of sorts in which the sexual same is perceived as some kind of sexual other. As one ancient text puts it, "seeing themselves in one another they were ashamed neither of what they were doing nor of what they were having done to them" (Pseudo-Lucian, Affairs of the Heart 20). The modern word "homosexual"--from the Greek homoios, "like" or "same"--underscores this self-evident desire for the essential sexual self shared in common with one's partner.

Read the entire article on the Robert Gagnon website.

Posted: 10/10/04



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