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The Annihilation of Marriage-Part One

Yesterday Iowa became the third state in the Union where individuals can receive a legal document purporting to confer on two people of the same sex the legal status of a married couple. A combination of judicial fiat and executive imposition has produced a result that strikes at the heart of the moral understanding that supports the existence of civil and political society not only in Iowa, but everywhere in the United States. A new law has been enacted in Iowa without the consent of the people.

As elsewhere, a combination of factors has produced this tyrannical act. However, I think the main contributing factor is a profound, and in some cases willful, misunderstanding of the nature of the issue involved. The judges promoting homosexual marriage pretend that their opinions are justified by the equal rights argument used to attack the regime of racial discrimination in the United States. But the equal rights argument only applies where the criterion for discrimination has no objective validity. When a minor league baseball team holds tryouts for a new pitcher, someone with a bad arm cannot claim an equal right to be made part of the bull pen. The assertion of right arises from a standard or rule that reflects the substantive requirements of the activity in question.

Every assertion of fundamental right similarly involves the invocation of a standard or rule that governs the human activity with respect to which the assertion is made. The standard or rule establishes the rightness of the activity. The nature and extent of the asserted right depends in turn on the nature and extent of the authority that governs its rightness. Under our constitutional system the ultimate authority for positive law is the will of the people, as expressed in laws enacted by legislatures composed of their constitutionally elected representatives. Judges have no authority to enact new laws. They may only apply laws properly enacted by the appropriate legislative body.

How then do the Iowa judges purport to establish as law a practice that contradicts and overturns existing legislation? They may do so only if and when existing legislation contradicts a higher law. The highest form of human positive law in Iowa (the State constitution) provides no explicit basis for overturning existing Iowa’s existing marriage legislation. But using a specious application of the equal rights argument, the Iowa judges appeal to the still higher legal authority from which the people themselves derive their right to representative self-government, i.e., government based upon the consent of the governed. This is the authority of substantive rightness, which is the basis for the concept of unalienable right that underlies both the people’s right of self-government and every individual’s claim to equal treatment under the law. But unalienable right arises (as the term suggests) with respect to actions or activities that are inseparable from the human existence and identity of the individual. It is not only about what individuals are free to do. It is about what they are substantively required to do in order to preserve their human existence and identity. Unalienable right is therefore grounded in the obligations connected with human self-preservation. Since it is right to fulfill these obligations, every individual has the right to do so. Respect for moral obligation thus constitutes the rightness of the right.

Every assertion of right therefore assumes some such ground of rightness. The ultimate and most general assertion of rightness arises in the context of the standard or rule that constitutes the human existence and identity of each individual. The American Declaration of Independence alludes to this standard when it asserts that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” On account of this standard, government must be based upon the consent of the governed. As they exercise the sovereign authority they acquire on account of this requirement of justice, the people cannot violate it, not without destroying their claim of sovereignty and vitiating the lawful authority of what they do. Where it can be shown that marriage legislation involves such a violation, the Courts may rightly reject it, on the grounds that the people are obliged to respect the exercise of unalienable right (that is the fulfillment of the obligation to act rightly) by individuals seeking the legal status of a married couple.

Obviously this means that before a right to marry can be understood and asserted we must understand the rightness of marriage, which is to say the connection between the activity the institution of marriage regulates and the human obligation it fulfills. The individuals forming the marriage bond formalize an existing or prospective relationship. But so do individuals who join a club, or form a business partnership or a political association. However a special purpose or intention distinguishes the bond of marriage from other contractual private associations, one that is special in the precise sense that it relates not only to the preservation of the individuals, but also of the species as a whole on which their identity as individuals partially depends.

In the debate over homosexual marriage, much is made of the emotional bond established by mutual consent. But all human friendship involves such a bond. No institution is required to regulate emotionally formed human friendships. Indeed the element of coercion involved in institutionalizing an emotional relationship in some degree contradicts the freedom of choice and action that makes real friendship such a cherished (and rare?) experience.

The institution of marriage necessarily involves an element of obligation. The individuals involved must agree to be constrained in their relationship by rules and expectations that at every moment contradict, or at the very least cast doubt on the notion that their actions are freely performed on account of the emotional tie between them. This ever present whiff of constraint is what leads some couples to shy away from marriage. They sense that it involves something inconsistent with the precious reality of the freely formed and sustained friendship that they cherish toward one another.

Yet we recognize this element of obligation and constraint as an essential feature of the marriage institution. Marriage is established in the first instance by a binding promise or vow. Though at first freely made it is thereafter supposed to constrain and command the behavior of the marriage partners. Unlike other vows of intimate, private friendship however, this one is a public commitment which places at the disposal of the marriage partners an apparatus of law and enforcement that signifies a public interest in what is up to that point a private and personal relationship. What explains this public interest? What explains the implication of legal coercion otherwise so alien to the very idea of a friendship sustained by love, freely given and received?

The answer of course is simple and has been obvious to common sense throughout human history. As a legal and public institution marriage has nothing to do with satisfying the emotional needs of the parties involved, except insofar as those needs arise from and relate to the activity of procreation. The coercive elements of marriage reflect the existence and fulfillment of obligations that naturally arise from the activity of procreation- the business of conceiving, bearing and rearing human offspring. Apart from this activity, marriage can have no justification as a legal institution distinct from other contractual human associations and activities ( such a business partnerships, professional firms and other such private enterprises.) But the public interest in this activity does not arise solely from the need to regulate consequences of procreation. It arises from the obligation of each individual, and the society as a whole, to the preservation of the human whole (the species) which any given individual or society partially represents.

Ironically, this fact explains a misunderstanding that continually bedevils the debate over homosexual marriage. It has to do with the relationship between what we imprecisely refer to as sexual activity and the marriage institution. The contemporary concept of sexual activity simply refers to physical relations that involve the pleasurable stimulation of the physical organs and senses otherwise involved in the act of procreation. Obviously once the term is applied to homosexual behavior, the actual connection with procreation is gone, and even the reference to sex becomes equivocal. (It once signified the particular syndrome of responses associated with the moments of life that most acutely and especially aroused the sensual awareness of the sexual difference. This awareness is precisely and necessarily absent from homosexual relations.)

The conceptual connection between procreation and the institution of marriage gave rise to a customary association between marriage and sexual activity. Those who intended to procreate were expected to marry. As a public institution, marriage necessarily acquired the respectability associated with institutions subject to public approbation and support. Sexual activity not connected with procreation, and therefore not conceptually connected with marriage, enjoyed no such respectability. For those who valued public respect, the conventional rule arose that sexual activity outside of marriage was not respectable. Respectable people who wanted to have sex therefore felt obliged to get married.

As is often the case with conventional wisdom, this maxim represented a misplaced kernel of truth. It preserved the element of coercion necessarily connected with the concept of marriage, but lost sight of the logical rationale for it. The necessary logical connection is not between sex and marriage, but between marriage and procreation.

Insofar as the push for homosexual marriage is part of the homosexuals’ quest for public acceptance and respectability, this misunderstanding accounts for it. But because it is a misunderstanding of the marriage institution it results in what is presumably (for those sincerely seeking public respect) an unintended consequence- the conceptual annihilation of the marriage institution. This conceptual consequence will inevitably lead to calls for the abolition of legal marriage, since without the conceptual connection with procreation there is no public interest justification for its existence. By the same token, however, it destroys the rational basis for asserting that there exists an unalienable right to marry that trumps the sovereign will of the people when it comes to legislation on the subject. In my next posting we will take a more extended look at this self-contradictory result. In the process we will more fully explore the transcendent moral obligation of society as a whole that the institution of marriage is intended to fulfill. We will see how the present push for homosexual marriage denies this obligation in a way that threatens the very idea of the unalienable individual rights legitimate government exists to secure. Even more ominously, it involves disavowing the compact or covenant that is the basis for civil society as such, and so portends its moral and material dissolution.

Series NavigationThe Annihilation of Marriage- Part Two
{ 19 comments… add one }
  • randycrawford May 12, 2009, 9:34 pm

    The homo “marriage” gambit is basically another turn of the crank we have seen hundreds of times here in Iowa, for decades. Their repeated scam works like this: make things seems complicated, i.e. create a lot of fog and mist. Then move the truth around in the fog and mist and hope nobody notices what is actually happening. In fact, the truth is exceedingly simple: Homosexuality is devious perversion. It is inherently wrong. Homo “marriage” is a side issue that is being promoted as another stepping stone toward creating the larger mirage that homosexuality is somehow OK. All anyone really needs to bother about is (a) homosexuality is inherently wrong and perverted, and (b) it contributes nothing whatsoever to society other than promoting diseases like syphilis and AIDS.
    *********** All the blather and side issues the perverts fabricate are merely distractions calculated to waste people’s time running in engineered circles.

  • chiu_chunling May 1, 2009, 4:28 pm

    “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    I cannot give that last, full measure of devotion. Even were it in my power, it is not my place to continue the work for which those who love liberty have given their lives.

    It is in your power to show that resolve. The price has already been decided, all you have left to choose is what you will buy with it.

  • cora May 1, 2009, 5:01 am

    I don’t know if anyone has even really thought of the result of the changes taking place in this country. The “government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth”, is quickly perishing from this earth. When the will of the people is overthrown for the convenience of others, we have already entered socialism. Trouble is, we are asleep at the wheel, due to making our lives so perfect in every way. We are throwing away the perfection that our constitution gave us. I don’t know if America as the founding fathers designed will last for long.

  • chiu_chunling April 30, 2009, 6:50 pm

    Okay, I’m pretty sure that we’ve established that the “aaaaaaaaaaah! run for your lives!” post was intended sarcastically. But is SC actually holding my failure to query that point against me, or discussing something else entirely? Can anyone else make some sense out of this?

    Kudos on finding that link to Obama’s inability to express or answer any sort of Christian perspective. Then again, the guy isn’t very good at expressing much of anything except by rote.

  • Friar Matt April 30, 2009, 8:23 am


    There was no questioning of then Senator Obama’s citizenship in any of the Senate debates. The quote that has been altered was made in response to Dr. Keyes’ showing how Obama’s views and actions are in actuality in stark contrast to Christ’s teachings. Obama then responded that he didn’t need to be lectured on his faith, etc. Thus, “I’m not running to be the minister of Illinois. I’m running to be its United States senator.”

    It is a really good exchange between the two of them. It shows Obama’s inconsistency and lack in serious thinking and praying over some very critical moral issues.

    The clip can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-yUCg0TASc

  • The Silent Consensus April 29, 2009, 10:46 pm

    I was under the impression that you were believing the sentiment of what I was saying was insincere. Nothing but a miscommunication. But there you go again accusing me and assuming the situation without asking first

  • chiu_chunling April 29, 2009, 10:38 pm

    So, was the snark about my questioning your sincerity also intended as an ironic device? If so, that would seem to mock all your other complaints about my argumentative style.

    And if not…then you were seriously accusing me of…recognizing your sarcasm? I’m sorry, but do you not see how difficult it is to take anything you post seriously when you’re that inconsistent?

  • danl1985 April 29, 2009, 10:18 pm

    this is why God’s judgment is coming to America. I don’t think any of us can even fathom what that is going to be like. the cup of iniquity in America has boiled over and we will have to drink it. all i can say is buy what you need, pray and fast, and scope out a place to get to if u should be forced from your home.

  • The Silent Consensus April 29, 2009, 8:03 pm

    The sentiment behind my sarcasm was sincere, the actual words weren’t

  • chiu_chunling April 29, 2009, 3:23 pm


    Is Silent Consensus actually claiming that the earlier “aaaaaaaaaaah! run for your lives!” post was intended to be taken as sincere? Or are we to assign all those other posts denigrating my arguments as ad hominem the same level of credibility?

    Sometimes it’s just hard to believe that the literal content of a post is intended seriously, after all. Is there anything wrong with saying so?

    On the senate race debate issue, it may be interesting but hardly conclusive compared to more recent admissions (like telling a court that the Obama defense team needs even more time to obtain a birth certificate, for instance). And it probably was only an admission that Obama wasn’t a native of Illinois. Besides, we’re talking about Mr. 57 states here too.

  • Joe April 29, 2009, 2:34 pm

    Dear Mr. Keyes,
    I copied this from the Hannity forum. It was posted by “newstand”. Could you please confirm if it is true and if it is, could you get the video?

    “There is a report that in one of Obama’s senate race debates with Keyes..
    Keyes actually mentioned that he was not natural born..
    Obama replied,”that’s o.k. I’m not running for president”.

    -indicating that the Kenyan birth was probable…

    Someone documented the dialog but the actual videotape is of course missing….from the web shortly after the controversy arose..”

  • The Silent Consensus April 29, 2009, 1:31 pm

    There you go again Chiu, questioning not people’s arguments, but their sincerity.

  • chiu_chunling April 29, 2009, 4:53 am

    I think that’s probably my fault. As a (self-proclaimed, but no less actual) iconoclast, anarchist, and all-round evil-doer, I am filled with deep satisfaction tinged with a sense of chagrin.

    After all, there used to be a sense of challenge in the art of refuting SC’s rather standard arguments with interesting rather than trite constructions.

    “I mean please, spare me”

    I only wish the request were sincere. It is not in my power to grant it in any case, but I wish it were sincere. Though I have no safety to offer, those who seek it may yet find refuge somewhere. Or perhaps not. In the storm that approaches there is no assurance to be had, except that the world is going to be very different when it is over.

  • Terry Morris April 29, 2009, 2:43 am

    By the way, I’m torn between which is more surprising to me — that (the self-proclaimed eminently reasonable, self-governing) Silent Consensus actually wrote the above post bearing his name, or that the he actually hit the send button. Rolls eyes.

  • Terry Morris April 29, 2009, 2:36 am

    Don’t pay any mind to it y’all, that’s Silent Consensus’s Randian “reason” in action.

    “…but reason, without cultivation, without experience, and without revelation is a miserable guide. It often errs from ignorance, and more often from the impulse of passion.” -Noah Webster

    From the impulse of passion, you say?

  • The Silent Consensus April 29, 2009, 1:23 am

    Amen to Keith Olbermann

  • The Silent Consensus April 28, 2009, 10:49 pm

    aaaaaaaaaaah! run for your lives! the sky is about to fall! procreation as we know it is about to end and the human race is going extinct! No one will ever be raised with a mom and dad again! Everyone’s going to be born out of wedlock and raised by parents who are greedy pigs! Everyone else is going to divorce their opposite-sex spouse and rush off to marry someone of the same sex! Hell is about to be raised onto Earth!

    I mean please, spare me

  • John Sanzone April 28, 2009, 9:40 pm

    You make a great argument Chiu, this is a question I’ve wondered aloud about, whether marriage should be institutionalized by governments or whether it would return to a truer purpose if it were dictated and ordained by churches alone? The comparison of societies who maintain the dignity of women and those which don’t is something I haven’t really heard before in scholarship or commentary on this subject.

    I look forward to your next post on this matter, Mr. Keyes. My initial thoughts are that the historical context of marriage derives from control/monarchical systems rather than among people, in an institutional sense; and that, yes, the greater movement for acceptance of homosexual relationships regards marriage as an ultimate, but it seems to serve the interest of leftists and atheists in general rather than the relationships between homosexuals. The marriage issue shouldn’t be about rights–the majority of which, it should be noted, pertain to the destruction of marriage in the first place. Of NY Gov. Paterson’s 1,300 or so rights, the majority regard the legal bonds of joint possession and the disbursement upon the termination of the marriage. Can it be examined in a wide sense of social institution, whether society can or cannot function adequately to protect the rights of all its citizens, without the presence of an institutional ‘marriage’?

  • chiu_chunling April 28, 2009, 8:02 pm

    I agree that ‘right’ arises from the actual requirements of a directed, purposeful activity. But I have trouble understanding how you then allow that the judges who derive their authority from a democratic republic could ever contradict the expressed will of the people by mere appeal to principle rather than to more binding expressions of the people’s will.

    The fundamental requirement of government is the consent (however obtained) of the governed. The fundamental requirement of law is the actual power (of whatever form) and will needed to enforce that law. The principle of majority (and super-majority) rule is aimed at fulfilling these unalterable requirements. The people consent to the government because they choose the legislators. The economic and physical demands of enforcing the laws are provided for from the possessions and selected persons of the body of the people, the majority of whom voluntarily obey the law with minimal coercion.

    If the people insist on choosing to make laws which ignore the fundamental requirements of protecting themselves from servitude, or invasion, or famine, or any other danger, there is no basis anywhere in the constitution of a democratic republic for thwarting their decision, however foolish. It is the people that ultimately provide the consent to be governed, and who provide the means of enforcing the laws.

    In past societies where the protection and government of society depended on a small class of superior warriors, it was only the warrior class which was necessarily accorded basic rights (the implications of modern civilization’s return to dependence on a separate warrior class are not lost on me, but I digress). Democracy has always been connected in its generation with the superior combat power of a society able to recruit citizen-soldiers rather than depending on a smaller warrior class. When the great number of the people have the means of effectual resistance to outside imposition and the self-discipline to willingly abide necessary laws, they will become self-governing. Where they lack either, self-government becomes impossible.

    It may be that the American people no longer possess the means or will to be self-governing. But if that is the case then the authority of such masters as do wish to establish government must be based on the actual possession of sufficient will and force to impose their laws against the remaining will and force of the American people. I detect no true strength of will behind the decisions being made by these judicial usurpers, only spineless capitulation to vocal interests. But even assuming this is mistaken, where is the force sufficient to override the people should they resist?

    A judge, as anyone else (technically there are several categories of persons better suited, but that is not the point), may be a prophet in declaring that the class of society providing the means and will to govern is making unwise or destructive decisions. But the role of a prophet is only to declare, not to impose, righteousness. The extraordinary prophet may presage some power sufficient to destroy a wayward government or civilization, but this is not the discrete power needed to govern.

    Nothing can redeem that person who, ignoring the source of government’s actual power to enforce its authority, pronounces laws unacceptable to those by whose will that power is granted. It doesn’t matter if those who grant the power are wrong, they are still the source of the law’s authority. Unless a new source of power to enforce the laws can be found and brought to bear, such posturing will only destroy the protections law accords to those who do not possess sufficient force of themselves.

    Which brings us, by and by, to the true purpose of marriage (as it is understood in Western civilization). It is not required for efficient procreation of the human race. A system which reduces the female population to a form of valuable property to be acquired and used by the most powerful males is just as effective for reproduction, indeed, apparently far more so. We should properly term this arrangement concubinage rather than marriage, as indeed such systems usually recognize either tacitly or explicitly themselves. The current trend towards a system in which reproductive females are made the charge of a powerful central authority is unusual, but not conceptually incompatible with concubinage.

    Indeed, while concubinage is efficient for procreation of the human race, it is not incompatible with simple sexual use of the concubine, including homosexual use. Certain periods of history, including Western history, illustrate this point very well. That widespread homosexuality always seems connected with a decline in the power and integrity of societies is not important to this argument.

    The point is to discover the fundamental purposive and practical distinctions between marriage and concubinage, the two competing systems by which men and women may interact in society. The most obvious, that in concubinage women are essentially sexual slaves (or at best menial sex workers) as opposed to relatively equal relationship partners, explains why women strongly prefer marriage to other forms of sexual interaction. But why do men, with their enormous relative advantage in both physical power and liberty from the main burden of reproduction, choose marriage rather than concubinage?

    The simple answer is that they generally don’t. Men are overwhelmingly the force behind the developing system of state concubinage in which women are the charges of the state, available to be used sexually by whichever men have the energy and desire. That this system is contributing to the imminent failure of the state that supports it is of no concern to such.

    But not all men choose concubinage over marriage. So what distinguishes men who value marriage from those who do not? The answer is complicated in detail, but boils down to a very simple principle. It is experience with and exposure to companionable marriage between men and women which teaches men to value marriage despite their native attraction to concubinage. Experience with marriage teaches men to value women as persons rather than as objects. This makes them willing to enter genuine partnerships in which the relative strengths and abilities of both men and women will be accepted and valued.

    While this is not the only purpose of marriage, it is certainly one that best distinguishes it from concubinage. It is not a mere historical accident that it is societies which practice marriage which have developed and protected rights for women, while societies which practice concubinage disparage and actively resist the development of women’s rights. One arrangement teaches men to regard women as individually distinct and personal, the other reinforces the natural tendency to perceive them as objects of conquest and domination.

    Thus legal recognition and protection of marriage is necessary not only to protect the current interests of women (in desiring stable, committed marriages) but also the future preservation of women’s place in society as citizens rather than property. The evidence that widespread concubinage rather than marriage has destructive long-term effects on women’s rights is overwhelming, the evidence that only widespread marriage–in which women are presented as essential partners to men–provides a firm basis for women’s rights is persuasive.

    Can experience of homosexual ‘marriage’ teach men what they learn from marriage between men and women? Obviously male homosexual relationships dispense with the woman entirely. Even if one partner in such a relationship assumes a ‘feminine’ role, that only emphasizes the disposability of the actual female. What about female homosexual relationships? Observation of male perceptions of lesbian acts indicate that the tendency to objectify women engaged in such a relationship is markedly higher than for women not involved in such a relationship. This probably relates to the issue of perceived interchangeability. But whatever the reason, the evidence is clear.

    Homosexual ‘marriage’ does nothing to incline males exposed to it towards regarding women as essential partners in life. Even if we discount the evidence that they actually do substantial harm to the long-term interests of women of themselves, dilution of the meaning and social protections afforded marriage between men and women will inevitably result in reductions in the relative number of marriages. This will unarguably diminish the exposure to marriage necessary to teach males to value women as persons rather than commodities.

    The trend towards concubinage in American society is probably already so overwhelming that only complete reformation of society can prevent women from being generally reduced to sexual serfdom in the next few generations. It is most likely that this would degenerate into outright slavery soon enough. Indeed, with the widespread availability of compliance inducing drugs in the criminal market, Americans are already are fighting a losing battle against the encroachment of human sex trafficking.

    Does homosexual ‘marriage’ then represent a pressing threat, or merely another way-post on the road to utter denigration of the rights women have achieved only in Western Civilization? The key point here is the demand that homosexual ‘marriage’ be treated equally to marriage between men and women. Advocates in favor of homosexual ‘marriage’ understand well that enforcing even the reduced legal protections now afforded marriage for homosexual relationships will prove untenable. They do not seriously want most of those protections for themselves anyway. The real objective is to abolish all remaining legal support for marriage, throwing state supported concubinage into uncontested dominance almost immediately.

    That this plan is so utterly infeasible that it will lead to the general destruction of society is not recognized by all advocates of homosexual ‘marriage’. Certainly open homosexuals themselves stand to lose as much or more than anyone else, with the removal of civil society and its attendant protections from violence. Many honestly do not understand the results of denigrating an institution which does more than any other to foster the belief that the strong should protect the weak.

    But there are others who do understand. And they do not want you to understand what marriage really is and what it truly accomplishes.

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