July 24, 2003

My big fat gay wedding... post

I'm increasingly convinced that within a very short time (possibly months, certainly years) gay marriage will become a huge issue, the next great front in the Culture Wars. And under the present circumstances, the liberals will almost certainly win if conservatives hold the "one man, one woman, one lifetime" position. We need to come up with some creative ways to save this institution, as the folks over at National Review seem to understand. Right now this is just a thought exercise. In three years at the most, it will no longer be. And we've got a handy CS Lewis quote:

Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question--how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.
Lewis seems to be suggesting something along the lines of the libertarian idea of privatizing marriage. The problem is that the prevailing current in that line of thought seems to be that the State basically legalizes marriage between any two persons, then the churches step in and establish their own codes. The problem is that Lewis is thinking of this from an English perspective, where there is for all intents and purposes one church. If that is tried here, the result will likely be several dozen forms of marriage with differing levels of strictness. I don't think this will work.

What we need is action, now. The National Association of Evangelicals or whatever needs to come up with one specific proposal. Christianity Today and World Magazine should be writing editorials. We need to get the Catholics, the Orthodox and the conservative Jews in on this too. Possibly Muslims, but that's probably not politically possible right now, and I'm not sure how compatible their marriage traditions are. We have to get a clearly distinguishable version of marriage, one that has a ban on any divorces save in case of abuse or adultery. We need to do this right away. Denominational solutions will not work; a stronger approach is needed.

Posted by Tim at July 24, 2003 03:48 PM

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