Believing it to be the most profound
game, a man greedily thinks he pits
against Mother Nature
only to find, too late, that
She has been playing him at Chess.
The man who believes Checkers to be the most profound game, when he pits himself against Mother Nature at The Board Game Of Life, not only assumes the rules of Checkers, but thinks Her moves are shallow.
Within every realm of human life, whether the medical, nutritional, educational, social, sexual, etc., there are wrong things and right things. And, some of the wrong things are abominably wrong, worthy of death for the severity of natural adverse consequences to others by such wrongs.
But, hhumans are not omnipotent in their physical makeup. Which is why they die and get disease. Further, in line with ‘Murphy’s Law’, there is not even one human sense about the right things which is exempt from being distorted. Ask Hitler.
I feel deeply comforted that homosexuals can value marriage and family as much as anyone.
But, for me to appreciate that homosexuals revere marriage and family is merely for me to appreciate that there is a certain equality between humans: regardless of sexual orientation or sexual practice, a more-or-less socially sensitive person easily appreciates the value of family and marriage.
So, here’s a question: Is society a bunch of disembodied psyches? Not on your life. And, it should go without saying that the physical world of which we all are a part is not strictly random. Rather, despite is variables, that world is highly ordered. Finally, basically, that order is made of, by, and for, life. Your life. My life. Everyone’s life. There are no shortcuts.
In fact, any ‘corner’ of the natural order that we ignore, we tend to ‘cut’. To our detriment. To all of our detriments. And to some of us more detrimental than to others.
It’s fairly easy to see that any weakening, distorting, or misdirecting of the social fitness of progenitive pairs, and of the individuals that potentially comprise such pairs, is just another way of saying ‘the weakening of society’. But, it may not be quite so easy to see that any weakening, distorting, or misdirecting of the microbiological fitness of these pairs likewise means the weakening of society. The central social instinct is about mating and reproduction. So, homosexual acts, regardless of the sexual orientation of its participants, at best borrow upon the microbiological capital of a reproductive community.
This begs another question: What are the physical connections that comprise a sustainable society? For one thing, we are connected by a common air. If each of us lived always-and-entirely in our own separate little bubbles, we might all claim near-innocence in terms of everyone else’s diseases, disabilities, and dysfunctions. But, we don’t live as a bunch of Bubble Boy’s, so we can’t rationally make such a claim.
Another way society is physically connected is that everyone has physical parents. This connection has to do with epigenetics: the ability of a fetus’s relative genetic integrity to be effected by its environment, and by the prior health-style of its physical parents.
But, all of the basic kinds of human social instincts are driven by―and, in turn, inform―human microbiology. Sex most of all. After all, that’s how we all got here. So, society is actual, physical people, sharing every kind of physical connection. And, while we can’t practically hope to avoid a general physical connection, we generally shouldn’t want to avoid it. Society is, after all, the function of mutual benefits. All the way down to the microbiological level.
However, as with those benefits, any potential problems likewise go all the way down to the microscopic. And that microscopic is a very ordered world. So, society is not just physical people, society is contagion―for better and worse. The fact that we are chemically mutually beneficial makes possible the introduction of mutual chemical detriment.
It may be obvious to scientifically ‘enlightened’ persons that to share a common physical environment tends to inoculate them against many diseases. But, it should be well-understood—by a deeply open sensitivity―just how sharing that environment also can put them at risk of other diseases.
You see, the potentially adverse half of our common physical connection is, in effect, the far more complex half. This is because we take the mutually beneficial half so over-simplistically for granted. For a really atrocious example, in the Middle Ages it was commonly thought that ‘licking a plate clean’ was just as good as rinsing it with fresh spring water; or, that drinking from a cup did not add anything to its contents. In other words, that, regardless that anyone had a ‘subjective’ sense to the contrary, the Middle-Age’s level of official scientific knowledge of contaminants was obscenely primitive. And, to top it off, they had virtually no clue that air is a prime means of contamination.
But, as atrocious as was the level of official biological science in the Middle Ages, only in the last century has anyone’s subjective sense about the ill-effects of second-hand smoke been ‘scientifically proved’ justified. And, absurdly, it was long prior to that official justification that it was well-known that one could contract a lung disease even without the aid of smoke, by a senseless, or even accidental, proximity to persons who, for unascertained reasons, clearly were ill in their breathing.
So, even if we never come in direct contact with anyone, or with any solid surface that others have touched, society is connected, for better and worse, by the air that surrounds us all. And, short of some relatively advanced technology, society cannot even hope to live as a bunch of Bubble Boys.
Even with the new appreciation of epigenetics—that realm of genetics in which the potential rubber for health and disease meets the actual road―people today love to think that the plain old genetics still easily determines 90% of the health/disease balance. As if it actually ever did. Just like licking your plate clean.
But, there once were no genes on Earth, while there always has been an environment that could act on genes, to shape them—even distort them. So, just the principle of ‘biologically detrimental substance’ is complex: there is no simple difference between a detrimental one and a helpful one. As a simple example, water is good for humans to intake, but not too much, and not down the wrong tube. The microbiological level of human health is vastly more complex, and in terms of many more substances, than just water. And, now, with their ‘basic’ knowledge of epigenetics, too many people today think as if they deeply understand, in terms of ‘scientific fact’, the physical connections we share.
Again, the plain old genetics is where the potential for health and disease reside, and epigenetics where that potential gets its cue to act. Yet, no one really knows more than a very few of that actor’s words, much less an entire sentence.
Again, society works precisely because people are mutually beneficial. That’s what society is. But, the more people’s habits counteract that mutual benefit, the more society dissolves, and even families fall apart. And, that ‘dissolution’ and ‘falling apart’ is not a simple fading away and crumbling. It’s more like chaos: a chaos of disease and dysfunction. We all learned that much in grade school, if not in kindergarten. The question is how well we really care to understand it.
For example, it’s one thing to accept a person who is addicted to smoking. It’s another thing to make them feel there is nothing wrong with smoking. And, if you’re so uniformed, or so willfully senseless, as to believe that second-hand smoke is harmless, then at least don’t try to make your version of ‘harmless common air’ legally compulsory on the rest of us. In short, given a world full of every kind and degree of bad habit, there is no such thing as a free ride to the mutual benefits of society.
The reproductively normative bi-gender-ness of humans means there are basically two directions possible for a person’s ‘subjective’ sexual orientation. We’re fairly exempt from be sexually oriented toward an entirely new, imaginary third gender―or, for that matter, toward crude oil and rocks. But, if ‘evolutionary’ fitness involves the potential to reproduce, then, notwithstanding the normal mechanical option, a ‘reversal’ of one’s sexual orientation may very well be a class-A social disability. Possibly the class-A social disability.
You see, sex is a social instinct, and the most deeply social one. And, that instinct is so deep not simply because of the intensity of our ‘subjective’ drive toward it, but because of the very-real-and-concrete microbiological exchange which takes place within it. Even with a condom. Your brain exercises it, and so it becomes strengthened, ingrained, in you. We’re sexual beings because we are conceived by sexual beings.
The question is whether a disability ought to be exercised as such, or, instead, worked through. No one wants to practice a limp that much. No one wants be that realistic in pretending to have no arms.
There are all sorts of disabilities possible, and many co-occurrences of different disabilities in an individual human. But a disability in terms of a basic instinct seems pretty serious to me. One wouldn’t want to wake up to find oneself hungry for asphalt instead of oatmeal. Some science fictional creature may ingest your neighborhood roads for sustenance. But, we humans don’t have science-fictional digestive/nutrient-uptake systems. And, the microbiological exchange which is the process of digestion-and-assimilation is an example of what really, most deeply, goes on in sexual attraction and sexual activity:
We live in a common, organized soup of the microscopic world. So, the more chaos we input into that world, the more chaos it gives back. Sex is such a deeply microbiological power, so the question is whether deliberately practicing a disabled version of it causes that disabled version to be reproduced (and, or, a host of other microbiological problems which present as disease and dysfunction). No one in their right mind wants to eat soup that has had petroleum products mixed into it, and there’s a reason the dinosaurs became extinct.
Don’t get me wrong. I know too well what it’s like being disapproved of for being a sexual creature-for having a sexual orientation of any kind. And, for those who think that’s bad, it was a disapproval not by intent, but merely by effect. I’m that sensitive. So, believe me when I say that I empathize with the wish, on the part of homosexuals, to be simply accorded what a heterosexual society already simply accords its heterosexual members: the natural and, therefore, civil right to be married to whomever with whom they share a most deep-and-broad kind of attraction.
To my mind, for a person to be homosexual in a heterosexual world is for that person to be oppressed, even if the whole world were ‘Ok’ with homosexuality. It’s an aberration of the microbiology governing the most basic social-and-reproductive instinct. Most of the more empathic or otherwise open heterosexuals know this (which is why Social Liberals are morally liberal towards homosexual acts).
But, knowing that to be homosexual is to be oppressed in a normatively heterosexual world does not say in which direction to prosecute the case for the sake of those who find themselves either sexually attracted to members of their own gender or born with a blended gender. Compulsive gamblers can be very friendly people, but you wouldn’t trust your money to them. As anyone with a libido knows, sex is most deeply powerful force in the human psyche. So powerful that, if allowed, it may easily overrun its rightful bounds: not in all individuals at the same time, but in a population over time and generations. It’s all about how much society is willing to reduce itself to its lowest common denominator.
So, it is not irrational to suppose that homosexual sex, and same-sex marriage, is bad for the ‘social’ and legal fabric of our civilization. Is it irrational to suppose that sexual relations between heterosexuals of the same gender might necessarily have some long-term adverse microbiological consequences, both to themselves and to others???
It is not irrational to suppose that some of those adverse consequences can be so ruinous to some others’ microbiology’s as to make some of those others wish to end their own lives. In fact, to reject out-of-hand the possibility of such consequences to such relations is, in effect, to reject that such consequences necessarily ever obtain in regard to any human action no matter how instinctively repulsive some possible human actions may be.
The microscopic environment is a complex continuum with which a properly functioning human individual’s microbiology has a mutually beneficial relationship. But, the possibility of mutual benefit between organisms makes possible a deep imbalance between them. And, once such an imbalance exists, their mutual benefit makes possible a short-sighted act which compounds any deep imbalance already present. So, the reason why ‘Anything that can go wrong, will’, is because ‘Bleep adds up so long as people keep doing bleep.’
Social Liberals rightly abhor economic greed for the disease and dysfunction that such greed causes both to the human and non-human parts of the Earth. But, in how many of the basic features of human life is it possible to cause disease or dysfunction to others? Surely, the sexual feature of human life cannot be one of the least.
It’s fairly easy to see that any weakening, distorting, or misdirecting of the social fitness of justifiable actual and potential progenitive pairs means the weakening of society-at-large. What may not be so obvious-at least until you think about it―is that any weakening, distorting, or misdirecting of the microbiological fitness of progenitive pairs means the weakening of society-at-large. The problem, of course, is tracking any such social or microbiological weaknesses to their sources.
But, all ‘merely‘ social actions are very much microbiological actions. And, some kinds of social actions are the most deeply microbiological. For better or worse.
A year ago, I wrote a personal email to Condoleezza Rice. It is the first-and-only time I’ve contacted her. I was inspired to write her because I had become informed that she is politically moderate. You see, I, too, am politically moderate, but I feared not in quite all the same ways in which she is. I wanted to inform her of some of those possible differences―differences which I think are of paramount importance. Below is that email I sent her, here edited-and-amended for clarity:
Dear Condoleezza Rice,
Some of the founders of the US Constitution stated that any government of humans by humans in this fallen life must either be directly righteous, or be a formal and legal separation of the three powers of a whole person. So long as humans tended to be too proud for their own good, these Founders knew that the latter was needed to retard the growth of wrong actions, and to preserve society. They even said that the US Constitutional government was not made for an unrighteous people, but for a righteous people, so that once the great People of the Unites States stopped being good, they would end up losing their greatness as well. And, finally, while the process of that loss need not be sudden, it certainly would be chaotic.
Now, the three powers of a whole person are knowledge, action, and judgment; these correspond to the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of all governments. But, what is a person in society? Is a person in society simply an individual? Or, instead, is a person in society a basic and integral part of that society? Consider the natural family: a man and a woman. The man-woman unit is that to which all reproductive societies are logically reduced, and from which, even for non-reproductive groups, all other social relations come. The natural, compatible man-woman unit is the root substance of society.
Adam, as the first human individual, recognized that he was not complete without the other. So, while the human individual is necessary to himself and, thus, to society, the human individual needs other human individuals. The female human, being ‘created after Adam’, was made so as to better appreciate this need, emotionally, than does the male human.
But, this greater appreciation, which the woman has, for the need of individuals for each other, makes the woman the more readily afflicted, and conflicted, than the man, in regard to this need. So, centuries after human history became a history of direct and, thus, relational disharmonies, it was not a man, but a woman, who formulated a worldview of stridently individualistic political economics: Ayn Rand. Even more ironically poetic than the fact that a woman formulated such a worldview is the fact that this woman grew up under an oppressively anti-individualistic government, and that this government was formulated by a man: Karl Marx.
Marx was driven by the hope of creating a society in which individuals lived righteously without bureaucratic oversight. But, his means to that end were by treating individuals as mere cogs in a bureaucratic machine. Marx knew that a righteous society is irreducibly complex; but, in denying that humanity began in a single man, and then in a lone man-woman unit, Marx was left either with admitting his own impotence to cure society, or with becoming convinced that society could be ‘cured’ of its great ills by temporarily suspending some of the basic parts of a good and righteous society.
Rand, in contrast to Marx, sought, in effect, to free the individual even from the freedom to recognize when collective action is the right thing to do: she asserted that civil society could be righteous only to the extent to which the individual’s secular liberty, including his functional material capital, was in adversely-and-superior relationship to the extension of the dynamics of the natural family into the wider society.
So, persons like Marx and Rand, more than any other foolishly dichotomous adversaries, want to throw each other out of society like so many rotten vegetables. They each recognize that society is broken; but, since neither will admit that humanity has a human-transcending Creator, the only way they each see to fix society is by the application of a ‘rational’ regime in opposition to what each respectively feels is ‘irrational’. So, the actual Marx and Rand were the most ironic epitome of the classic ‘odd couple’: the man and woman recognizing that the only thing keeping them together as a couple is their agreement that their relationship is broken, while each of them continues to defensively-and-vindictively reason strictly in terms of their respective gender preferences.
But, for Marx and Rand, their gender preferences were reversed. This is because they each had become ‘traumatized’, in this fallen and very malfunctioning world, in terms of their own gender’s constructive sensitivities. In other words, in that a man and woman, as such, have differing natural occupations, Marx and Rand each suffered the ultimate form of occupational stress disorder.
The mutually exclusive ways in which Marx and Rand wished to effect the attainment of a righteous society can be compared to defining human life as ‘either water or salt, but not both’. But, it ought to be clear that any paradigm which is in opposition either to the primacy of the individual as inherently free, or to the realities of the family as the core of a civil people, is destructive to the well-being both of individuals and of society. This is why God commanded His own nation to give a tenth of their increase for support of the overseers of the sacred truth of righteousness, and for the care of the poor who are made that way by a people’s common failure to be as righteous as they ought.
The individual, and the family, is the rightful End User of economic and cultural capital. This even is why, in the ancient pagan-secular world, their leaders were made from amongst them. But, representative government is righteous only to the extent that it is righteous in terms of God’s Laws, Who alone, as Creator, is always perfectly aware of all the basics of society, and of the complexities of an equitably efficient society. It was no accident that God never instituted correction-by-ward: God knows that such an institution is unnatural-and-ineffective as a means of correction. But, it also is never an accident that pagan-secular economies institute correction-by-ward as a basic means of correction: they find such an institution to be an immediately convenient means of separating their ‘bad’ members from themselves, and keeping them so separated until or unless those ‘bad’ members are deemed sufficiently punished-and-reformed-by-the-separation.
The fact that, for the sake of an economy-of-scale, all the ‘bad’ members are held together in one place, compounds the problem, allowing the badness to breed and strengthen rather than to be washing away in the ‘good’ social and economic context by the ‘good’ members. To live for days and years in isolation from one’s proper context, by the will of that context, is to live for days and years with a huge accusatory finger pointing straight into one’s face. This is a far more dichotomous means of ‘correction’ than a system of lashing, because, even in the event that a lashing leaves permanent scars in the body, those scars are reminders of what one did, not what one is. Living so long with that huge accusatory finger, or the realization of facing such a future upon being caught in an offense, is nothing more, on the one hand, than the force of making the offender re-identify himself as ‘offender’ instead of as ‘fellow-fallen-human’, and, on the other hand, of allowing and encouraging the ‘good’ people to maintain and intensify their own vindictive dichotomy between themselves and the ‘offenders’. Moreover, while that vindictive dichotomy is alternately expressed by strictly vindictive means, such as cutting off the hand of those found to have committed material theft, a system of ‘correction’-by-ward allows the ‘good’ people to couch their own selfish vindictiveness in terms of an enlightened anti-vindictiveness: the offender’s most basic physical needs of survival and comfort are provided for within the isolated context.
Had my father allowed himself to be taken into that isolated, ‘correctional’ context, you would not have this email before you, because the family into which I was born would have been broken from the outside far-and-way more than it had been broken from the inside. But, because my father was determinedly paternal, I grew up well by way of both parents, and in a very stable and contented way. You see, had my father given himself up to the institution of correction-by-ward, my naive mother would have remained angry at him as a husband-who-was-absent-from-her-on-account-of-his-being-bad—far worse than if he had chosen to more-or-less abandon her and her children out of vice or paternal indifference.
But, since my father refused to submit to being taken captive by a system of ‘correction’-by-ward, I knew my father as a ‘bad man’ only once, for about five minutes, by my mother’s so reference to him when I once asked her where he was. So, I never saw him in jail; never saw him cowed like something that society wishes to throw-away-and-forget; never saw my mother see him there, never saw her look at him in anger as the ‘disappointing trash’ that was being ‘justly’ held from her despite her need for him as her husband and as the father of her children. So, I never developed a vindictive dichotomy between myself and my father, because I didn’t grow up under such an unnatural, society-enforced relationship to him. I’m grateful every day to him for having refused to give himself up to that deeply dichotomous, secular ‘correctional’ system.
I’m so opposed to the institution of correction-by-ward that I would rather have lived in communist USSR under Stalin than to have had a father who was a ‘bad guy’ in the Trash Can of the ‘penitentiary’ system of a too-secular ‘God-fearing’ society. That society worships both Ayn Rand and Karl Marx far more than it realizes.
My father, who had a quick temper, was a one-time thief. But, for that theft, it was a ‘God fearing’ society that would take him away and render my mother an angry nag, and me an angry son of my mother’s ‘bad’ husband. But, as it was, she was no nag, rarely angry even at him, and the most kind and mild-mannered person I have ever known. All because she respected him as a man, what a man ought to be: determined to care for his family and be present with them―even if, in a moment of particular desperation, he had once done so by theft. You see, he had grown up as a secular boy in a family of secular care: a family that may as well have been dropped out of the sky for all the wisdom it had to live in this fallen world. He grew up in a culture, in other words, that was living on borrowed cultural capital.
All sin is theft: the selfish creation of imbalance in a complex system of which the sinner is a part. My father was determined to be the least of all thieves, by refusing to assent to the implicit claim, on the part of too many, that the ‘penitentiary’ system is righteous in the eyes of God. It is not. It merely has that intention, like every good-intentioned injustice. It undermines families, and frustrates and destroys those it vainly hopes to correct. The fact that a small percentage of inmates do end up corrected is only because no system of injustice is ‘air-tight’ against the spirit of God. God gave laws to His own nation not simply out of good intentions, but out of good knowledge. And, God’s own nation failed essentially no sooner than would have America under the same laws and by the same lights: without the artifact of a Separation-of-Powers, and without the teachings and inheritances and Jesus Christ, America would have become just as evil as had ancient Israel, and just as soon.
The worldview like Ayn Rand’s is what produced the caste system of India: an initial state of common liberty of equally selfish-and-ignorant persons. This is what secularism is: ignorance of something basic, of something which it is necessary for a society to know to live long and prosper. So, in ancient India, one of the prerequisites of a righteous society, namely a common liberty, was turned against society, resulting in the social and economic imbalance of powers of society.
A caste system is nothing more than an imbalance between basics; an unnecessary injury of some for the convenience, happiness, and aggrandizement of others. Unjust men commit injustice before the victims can find to effectively defend themselves, so injustice has the advantage of being the gun fighter who draws first. This is the ‘penitentiary’ system of correction-by-ward, but with society as the victim of its own selfish wish to rid itself of those who do wrong. In essence, a system of correction-by-ward is nothing more than a portent of the Indian caste system, but without the truly life-long and in-born condemnations allowed by belief in reincarnation. All the roots and the crown of a bad tree. So, this is a society made up one or both Karl Marx’s and Ayn Rand’s: something which is basic to a good society is rejected, thrown away, ignored, condemned, because it sometimes fails to be in tolerable harmony with the rest. Adam and his progeny are far too proud, are we not?
In AN ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LAWS, (http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol29_No3_Allen.pdf) Doug Allen makes the point that laws defining and governing marriage are actually socially-publically recognized/prescribed rules for enforcing a more-or-less ideal balance between the various interests of the natural mating relationship. This is a balance that ideally would obtain naturally, that is, without any such external enforcement, and thus without any of the ‘meddlesomeness’ of the enforcing entit(y/ies).
But, in a non-ideal world involving every manner of imbalance, including every manner of greed or selfishness, there is no reality to a libertarian ideal in any realm of human behavior, especially in the realm of sexual relations. This is because humans were not made for a world of such imbalances, especially not for an imagined sexual world of The Endless Honeymoon (humans are designed to procreate, not just to copulate).
But, this implies that the human individual was not made for exercising self-control and critical self-reflection when faced with adverse circumstances. Rather, the human was made for acting simply as if the world is, or ought to be, in harmony with him/herself at all times and for all reasons. The fact that the world is not that harmonious with the individual means there can only be an accumulation of disharmony for any society that takes the present, fallen world as if that world is the only world that ever existed. It’s a naive (and often very selfish) individual who does not appreciate that him/herself is, and occasionally adds to, the adverse imbalances that constitute the imperfections of the world.
Doug Allen makes the case that laws which grant or legitimate same-sex marriage are motivated by a naive and ignorant libertarian idealism: ignorant about the nature of the human being and, thus, about society. And, to be naive about society is to be even more naive about civilization, because civilization is a more-or-less deliberative-adaptive social and economic construct. As I hope to show, and as I think Doug Allen does show, the legal institution-and-recognition of same-sex marriage is one variety—and the most profound variety—of the inbreeding of a legal system.
Herebelow is an excerpt of AN ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LAWS (all in-bold emphases are mine), with my final comments after it.
Although economists generally see individuals coming together for cooperative exchange and production as generating much more wealth (broadly defined) than they could on their own, such cooperation also enables people to take advantage of one another or behave opportunistically. For example, employees shirk their duties, people write bad checks, spouses commit adultery, and so on. To mitigate these opportunistic behaviors, successful societies create institutions that constrain private incentives. These institutions are wide ranging, and at a general level include firms, families, laws, customs, and governments. Within each of these there are vast arrays of rules and norms to regulate opportunistic behavior at the relevant level. When societies were successful in adopting the optimal rules for their particular circumstances, they tended to outperform other societies. Eventually, only those societies with optimal rules survive.
How institutions actually come into being is irrelevant to the question of efficiency. Intentions do not matter; whether constructed in order to achieve a specific goal or developing by chance, only optimal institutions survive in the competitive world of social interactions. The implication is that surviving, or long-lasting, institutions are economically efficient. In the context of marriage—perhaps the oldest institution—the survival criteria are quite obvious. Societies incapable of replicating themselves in numbers and quality relative to competing societies simply die out or are taken over. In dealing with the legal regulation of marriage, courts and legislatures form laws that either work well or do not in varying degree. Poorly designed laws lead to lobbying efforts and appeals that result either in successful regulation of marriage or in unsuccessful marriages, which in turn lead to low fertility, low quality offspring, and ultimately a decline in the society. Either way, the Darwinian conclusion is inevitable: the general institutions of marriage we observe today are efficient, as they are the result of centuries of evolution.
Starting with the idea that long-lasting institutions efficiently regulate or constrain behavior, a question is presented: what is being regulated in the context of marriage, and for what purpose? Many economists have concluded that marriage is primarily (but not exclusively) designed to regulate procreative behavior because the private incentives of men and women at various points in their life cycles are often incompatible with the social objectives of the marriage. On the surface, this argument seems ridiculous. The alternative, that marriage is based fundamentally on love, seems more reasonable. However, the love hypothesis is over- and under-inclusive. Many people love one another in both sacrificial and sexual ways (for example, cohabitants, polygamists, homosexuals), but are not married. At the same time, there are loveless marriages in which love, though once present, no longer exists, and arranged marriages in which love is not present at the beginning. Historically, love played almost no role in marriage; matches were arranged between kinship groups. Ultimately, however, theories of marriage must be tested empirically. As this Article argues, at least in the context of no-fault divorce laws, evidence does not support the love-based marriage hypothesis.
In the context of marriage, the conflict between the private and social incentives is often linked to the biology of procreation. For example, because women bear children at a young age, they make large, family-specific investments early in their lives. Such investments place them at risk of abandonment by men who initially indicate commitment in exchange for sex. But biology cuts both ways; because men seldom know the paternity of their children with certainty, a woman who mates with a given man might be able to “breed up” by exchanging sexual intercourse with a higher quality male, allowing the original mate to raise the latter’s child unknowingly. These are just two examples of how biology could create a conflict between private and social incentives. Rules restricting abandonment, punishing adultery, and restricting male-female interactions are ways to mitigate these problems. In general, though, marriage is designed to deal with the myriad issues that arise between a husband and a wife, and to create incentives to procreate and to invest in their offspring so that they will be successful members of the next generation. An implication of this theory is that the optimal marriage rules have been remarkably constant across time and cultures, because these issues remain relatively constant across heterosexual couples.
Legal recognition of same-sex marriage means that three different types of relationships will be regulated under the same legal umbrella. Advocates of same-sex marriage portray gay and lesbian couples as similar to one another and portray both as similar to heterosexual couples. All couples love each other, all couples seek the benefit of marriage, and all aspire to equality and dignity. No one claims, however, that they are identical, and in many cases the differences between couples could matter for successful legal regulation. In terms of observable behavior, heterosexuals, gays, and lesbians appear to form three distinctly different types of relationships. In an early study on couples, researchers found major differences in behavior between the three types. Gay men had very high rates of sexual activity, while lesbian couples had sex on average once per month. Heterosexuals, especially during the childbearing years, have sexual frequency rates similar to those of gay men. Gay men were more likely to have multiple partners than lesbians or heterosexuals. In a study on same-sex registered unions in Sweden and Norway, researchers found a number of differences between gay and lesbian unions. Surprisingly, gays were almost twice as likely as lesbians to be married. Gay men were much more likely to have wide age differences in the couple, while lesbians were most likely to be of the same age. Gay men were more educated, and more likely to not have been in a previous heterosexual marriage. Most significantly, they found that gay marriages had dissolution rates fifty percent higher than heterosexual couples, and lesbian marriages had dissolution rates three hundred percent higher. The lesbian rate of separation was twice that of gay couples.
These differences may not be the result of a lack of legal regulation; rather, they may reflect a more basic difference. The fundamental difference between these three types of unions is the biological relationship between parents and children. In a heterosexual marriage, biology is perfectly aligned with the definition of parent. Indeed, the legal notion of “natural parent” is the biological parent. In a properly functioning heterosexual marriage, there are two parents; they are married, and they are biologically linked to the children. Indeed, the institutional apparatus of marriage is designed to produce this effect. In a same-sex marriage, if there are children, this biological link is necessarily severed. This difference, whether one believes it to be good or bad, produces a different set of incentive problems between heterosexual and same-sex marriages.
Historically, marriage was designed to create a bond between a biological mother, father, and their children. This was not always possible: some marriages fail, spouses die, and some couples are unable to procreate. The result has been allowance for remarriage, adoption, artificial insemination, and the like. These have been second-best solutions to unfortunate circumstances; there was never the threat that these ex post outcomes would influence the institution of marriage. The impossibility of same-sex procreation, however, presents a different set of circumstances. All children in a same-sex marriage necessarily have a broken biological link to at least one of their parents, whether because of a previous marriage by one of the partners, artificial insemination, or adoption. What is the exception for heterosexual marriage is ubiquitous for same-sex marriages. It is not obvious that current structures—such as adoption and reproductive technology—that are adequate for heterosexual marriage will be sufficient for same-sex marriages.
There is another problem that arises in every same-sex marriage: children receive only one type of gender influence from their parents. In addition to the uncertain direct effects of same-sex parenting on children, this situation may give rise to difficult contractual issues. No doubt many of these families will seek out role models for their child from among the other sex, perhaps from the biological parent. These third parties are likely to play more important roles in the context of same-sex marriage, and with this increased importance may come increased legal rights of the third party. Or, perhaps the solution will take another route, with the state playing a larger role in the inculcation of gender identity. One wonders if such an approach would lead to greater state involvement in the raising of children from heterosexual families as well.
The point is simply this: the ability to procreate is a fundamental difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. This difference is likely to manifest itself in hundreds of different issues that may require or warrant some type of legal intervention. Thus, any transfer of rights permitting same-sex marriage may harm heterosexual couples, for whom the present regime was created, and for whom it is efficient.
In short, only if ‘love’ between two individuals were the sole issue in defining and enforcing marriage could same-sex marriage justifiably be recognized by society. Yet that’s the libertarian ideal being used to rationalize the legal recognition of same-sex unions as essentially equal to heterosexual unions. But, if such a simplistic ideal were the reality which same-sex proponents in effect claim it is, then any two individuals should have the right to ‘marry’, no matter what natural relations they have to each other and to human society, including whether either of them is human, adolescent, progeny-of-the-other, serial murderer, terrorist, etc.. In other words, in a world full of every manner of natural and unnatural adverse imbalances, the more open is marriage to being redefined inclusively, the more indifferently and otherwise chaotically is any instance of marriage allowed to be dissolved (or force-ably dissolved by meddlesome external entities even for the sake of some twisted idea of a ‘wider’ social benefit).
The simple fact is that sexual activity between two persons of the same gender, regardless of any sexual attraction between them, is an act which borrows upon the natural mating drive of heterosexuality (even if one of both of these homosexually-acting persons feels little or no sexual attraction to anyone of the opposite gender). And, the ultimate question is whether such ‘borrowing’ is not, in fact, stealing. If one or both of these individuals is heterosexual, then their homosexual action certainly can be seen as stealing (such as in a world populated only by two men and two women in which all four are heterosexual). You see, the question is whether sex outside of a stable, intentionally life-long marriage is stealing, or is simply the right of every horny SOB. Because, if it’s not stealing, then who of us can rightly command (and expect the wider society to enforce) that anyone ever be faithful to us as a sexual/reproductive partner? This is the issue.
…And it all bears on whether the mating drive itself is a human and civil right: that a human has the right to the sort of dignities which allow him or her eventually to be married; the right not to have physical and mental health destroyed by the arrogance, greed, and pushy self-interest of fellow citizens, whether parents, employers, official spiritual leaders, or government officers and systems of law. It cuts all the way down and across, even to the right to be born without a conflict of sexual self-identity.
I can only imagine how much of a theft it is for a heterosexual, for sake of a present convenience, to engage in homosexual behavior. As a heterosexual, I call it the most abominable kind of theft, though a theft not on the immediate visible level, but on the level of a microbiological economy which is invisible to humans except in terms of deepest repulsion or disagreement.
The fact that those born with conflicts of sexual self-identity are identified by an open society as caring and empathic individuals says nothing of whether that conflict is a disability or not. Some of the most disabled people are among the most caring of people. So, it is a pragmatic reaction on the part of an open society to legitimize same-sex unions. That would not be the reaction if such conflicted individuals were insensitive and ‘beastly’. But, the nature of that conflict tends to make them more, not less, sensitive, because it involves the very core of themselves as sexual, and thereby biologically reproduce-able, beings.
One can live by eating through a tube, but the deepest and broadest kind of companionship between two creatures is not so subject to alternatives. So, while even homosexuals long for such companionship, and while they hope, and occasionally try, to obtain it, can they ever really attain it if their efforts are misdirected both internally and externally?
To be a homosexual in a heterosexual world is in itself to be oppressed, even if the whole world were ‘Ok’ with it. Most of the more empathic or otherwise open heterosexuals know this. But, knowing this does not say in which direction to prosecute the case for their sake. One can let the child have the entire candy store for free, to be eaten as he pleases, but the fact that he is born so poor that he cannot afford even a piece of fruit does not mean that letting him have the candy store is the sensible way to get food in his stomach. Some things aren’t the food they seem to be.
…is Wendy Shalit.
I’ve thus far read very little of all she’s written (I’m currently reading A Return To Modesty, ©2000), but every few paragraphs I’m so delighted and awed by her words. For example, on the FAQ’s (Q&A) page of her blog, which is about her latter book, The Good Girl Revolution, she is asked What’s wrong with the exhibitionists? Don’t you think women should express their sexuality?
To which she answers:
Some of my best friends are exhibitionists, actually. This book is definitely not meant to be a personal attack on them. The problem is that if we only focus on one narrow notion of empowerment–taking your clothes off in public, being casual about sex, that sort of wildness–then girls don’t have real choices.
Can you possibly get any better than that, any more insightful? I don’t think so. Shalit’s words should be on the front cover of every major news stand publication in the ‘civilized’ world. Now that would be balanced journalism.
“To the man who loves art for its own sake, it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.” —-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Is everything economics? Or, instead, is everything politics? And, for that matter, what is the relationship between the two? Here you’ll find the answers to all three questions. But, first, about a subject that far too many people today think is neither, since they see both terms in terms of the respective adversarial usages (like me saying I hate philosophy, which is true only as far as it actually goes):
Marriage is a male and a female in the deepest and most direct kind of association with one another. Such an association inherently is self-sustaining: it is its own sovereign and most personal society.
But, in a world of death and disharmony, marriage is a commitment, and a community-enforced vow, to remain married.
So, now, marriage—of the enduring kind―consists in the right of two to act on their mutual compatibility; in which their right to so act does not consist in their compatibility, but in their competence in face of factors weighing against the endurance of their action.
Had Adam and Eve been merely one of many couples in the garden of Eden, then when humanity fell, society would have instantly dissolved, forever replaced by ‘the right of the strong to have all whim’s dominion over the weak’, the ‘right of men to rule women like animals’, and the ‘right of the powerful to misjudge and condemn the feeble and the young’. In short, it would have been a world in which competition over the ’scarcity of Eden’ was the sole core motive—just like what Rationalist Evolutionists of the past century had assumed was already the sole core of all human behavior.
…Civilization is but the story of romance and disharmony: disharmony between everyone and everything, but romance between exactly two.
It is uncontroversial that the socio-sexually natural man-woman unit is the most humanistically necessary, and thus the most glorious, kind of relation between human individuals. In other words, that relation alone is what most essentially defines a human society. The good of the wider society is defined as the integration of all other naturally enduring mutual benefits between all free individuals. But, all those benefits are created-and-sustained by the existence of the natural man-woman unit, or couple. In short, all other natural human relations are products of this one relation, by way of reproduction of human persons.
But, in the fallen world, the publically binding form of instantiating the man-woman socio-sexual unit is the root form, and first act, of civilization. ( Note that it is both the root form, and first act, of— )
So, now, again, is everything economics, or politics? Note the assumption of dichotomy in that question. That assumption is absent in the more basic question of “What is the relation between the two?“. In fact, it may be that neither can properly and fully be understood without the other. Two wit:
The psychological underpinnings of Ayn Rand’s socio-political and eco-political views were related to her gender in the same way that Karl Marx’s views were related to Marx’s gender. Namely, by the tendency of the genders to becoming overly sensitive in regard to their respective virtues. The male is most able in matters of individualism, the female in matters of the collective. Ayn Rand’s disfavoring of the female virtues, and her consequent exclusivism in favor of the male virtues, may have been caused (in a modern world in which all good things are turned into more-or-less exclusives by some group or nation) by a particular sensitivity on her part to the female virtues. While it is good to feel things for others, it is not good to have that feeling used, in effect, to make one feel that one has no personal rights and needs. It can be argued that Rand typically felt so used, as do many women, but that Rand, unlike them, found herself with an opportunity to so ‘right the wrong’ that, unknown to her atheism, she went much too far.
Rand’s atheism saw only one way toward a global salvation, namely by the opposite of the natural virtues of women. Marx saw the converse of Rand, by the opposite of the natural virtues of men. This is the true ‘Odd Couple’.
But, Jesus never preached liberation of women from men, nor men from women, but most perfectly empathized with the plights of both in the face of the other. Adam was created without a penny to his name, but he owned the entire Earth. And, Adam never shrugged anything in order to possess it, which means it cannot be owned by a kind of individualism which denies a common culpability for a common plight of the suffering which results from the fact that differentiated individuals and genders cope differently to a given non-ideal situation.
Jennifer Roback Morse made a great point in her recent talk at Skyline Church. She said that there is an imbalance between romantic bonding and respectful love in the practice of cohabitation, in so far as cohabitation is a means of finding the ‘right’ lifelong partner. But, her point goes much deeper than simply to address the false wisdom of cohabitation. Within the fallen state of the world, that imbalance between romantic bonding and respectful love exists in any romantic attachment which is not a maturely formed marriage, even in romantic relationships that do not involve any physical contact.
So, it’s all politics. What this means, firstly, is that, unless ‘politics’ as a national subject has an irreducible core, then such ’politics’ is a haphazard subject about which nothing can truly be known other than the fact that it involves negotiation and compromise between various ontologically isolated interests. Unless the complexities which accrue to national or tribal ’politics’ are evolved from a single original core of society—and, by implication in this fallen world, from an occasional or systematic denial of that core—, then no species of ‘politics’ has anything in common with any other species of ‘politics’. In short, general ’political’ history must have a single common ancestor, such that all species of ‘politics’ are descended from one true political progenitor.
But, secondly, to say that It’s all politics means that an effective denial or cheapening of that core of society is a mutation, and not a proper political species. Nevertheless, all mutated forms of politics involve some of the form-and-substance of the original political common ancestor. This is part of how ‘politics’ becomes increasingly complex, and increasingly difficult to sort out, despite what some people think who live in a civilization that allows dissent against that ancestor far more than it enjoins the faithful reproduction of that ancestor. In short, all the wisdom which alone justifies not only the marriage vow, but every sense of sexual modesty and respect of which even otherwise secularly ignorant people are somewhat aware.
Adam and Eve saw the necessity of the accountable marriage vow more clearly than have any other humans. But, they saw also something which the modern statist and secularist typically fails to see despite any commitment to being ‘Biblical’ and ‘good’ respectively: that marriage is not principally for the welfare of children as such, but for the welfare of what children, by rights, aspire to attain to: marriage (i.e., to their own most personal, most broadly meaningful, society). Bill Bennett wrote:
‘Based as it is on the principle of complementarity, marriage is about a great deal more than love. That “great deal” encompasses, above all, procreation. The timeless function of marriage is childbearing and child-rearing, and the best arrangement ever developed to that end is the marital union between one man and one woman …’ The Broken Hearth, Page 197
Children themselves hope one day to attain to that very kind of natural relation with another human being. So, Bennett almost seems not to have completed his own equation. What Bennett’s words ultimately imply is that, in terms of the value of the natural man-woman socio-sexual unit to anything which stands outside of that unit, that unit is most principally for the production of additional such units.
In other words, in terms of producing things which exist outside of itself, marriage is not principally for the reproduction of individuals, but for the reproduction of marriages.
This is what God meant by ‘be fruitful and multiply’—otherwise Rand and Marx each was right.
But, if neither Rand nor Marx was right, then they both together are the short answer to the question. Rand was the economist, the salesman. Marx was the politician. And, notice that it was the politician who took to the most forceful kind of means to forward his agenda. The economist was the meat in the sandwich which both fools refused to eat. To defend the sense of life from those who’s greeds destroy it, the loss of some lives are sometimes the necessary-and-wise price. Rand’s confused notion as to what all constitutes a healthy self-interest was like a diet of bread alone—but alone by which it is said that man does not live.
Elijah was fed by the ravens, who were wise enough to give him both bread and meat. The simple and the complex. The immediate and the long-term. Neither of these can ignore the other without ignoring itself. And, the willful ignorance of a neccessity is an act of destroying a good which, exactly because of such ignorance, takes effort to preserve. All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.
…and when a boat sinks, it need not stay sunk.
If humans beings were made in and for a unfallen world, then the fact that they now are born in a fallen world is a complicating factor: the human mind and psyche is not automatically able to make the right sense of the world as it is now. People who are ignorant of, or unwilling to accept that, the world was once unfallen tend to feel that the present world can be understood entirely on its own terms. Worse, many people whose education in wisdom far exceeds their intelligence tend to think of that unfallen world as having been regulated by all the normative wisdoms so necessary for a good life in the fallen one.
The ignorance/unwillingness to accept that the world was once unfallen is the essence of secularity. The ignorance/unwillingness to accept that the unfallen world is not defined as the-perfectly-abiding-of-the-wisdom-necessary-for-life-in-the fallen-world is the root of self-righteous/self-wise viperous Pharisee-ism.
The most spiritually enlightened secularists are the Buddhists. But, the Buddhist’s spiritual light is very poor in terms of its ability to preserve society. This is because society is not a function of stoicism, fatalism, passivism, or any other form of desperate toleration-ism/acceptance-ism. Society is merely the natural harmony, or complimentarity, between differentiated individuals. Civilization is another matter.
Adam and Eve were the first society. And, this is marriage as it was then: the most personal society, with the most personally meaningful range of benefits, and with the most productive potential. In short, marriage is simply this: male and female.
But, then, the world became fallen, disharmonious. The world has ever since been one of disharmony between everyone and everything. In the social realm, the disharmony is of both the rightful and wrongful kind: that between conflicting rightful needs, and between one person and other in terms of the ways they advocate for their respective conflicting needs. In short, triage, and the need of society to balance the rightful needs of all members. This balance is civilization.
So, firstly, the wider society is based on, and originates in, marriage as the core social unit. And, secondly, specifically civil society is a post hoc construct for the sake of fallen society as the equitable association of rightfully differentiated individuals. I really like the article at http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/sex_and_intimacy/understanding-your-husbands-sexual-needs/so-whats-the-holdup.aspx, which makes the point that fallen man and woman in marriage must each move toward the benefit of the other without regard for their own prior satisfaction.
There is no garden of Eden for us in this fallen world, and no endless natural complete harmony between man and woman. The complication of find themselves in a world that is at odds with their expectations/hopes is that their own most natural inclinations are to expect from the other a harmony with themselves, each selfishly personifying the other as that lost Edenic life which the other seems simply to be selfishly denying to them. So, rightful self-interest becomes a selfishness which fails to seek to understand and help their fellow drowning victim. But, this Titanic need not sink to the bottom of the ocean. And even when it does so sink, this ship can still be made to sail in glory again. Even more gloriously than it had at first.