[I was going to present a list of links, but my commentary on one of them ballooned out of control. Now it is a post. Also, if any people in gay relationships are reading this, I don't hate you; I want only good things to happen to you. It's just we don't agree on which things are in fact good.]
In light of the recent Supreme Court decision in which Justice Kennedy (a man whose fundamental job description is to interpret a written Constitution in light of precedent, remember) overturned thousands of years of precedent in light of few decades of liberal opinion concerning alternative sexualities, I begin by presenting:
Judaism's Sexual Revolution
This article explains, from a Jewish perspective, why the Torah's prohibition of (male) homosexuality wasn't just based on mere bigotry. Some good insights in here; though some of the statements about historical causation seem oversimplistic, in broad outline I think the narrative is true. Christians will need to make a few obvious corrections. For example, we believe that celibacy is not only permissible, but—for those able to accept it—an even higher calling than marriage. (And, since we don't accept double standards of chastity between the two genders, we believe that lesbianism is also wrong.)
I'm not going to analyse the legal reasoning of the Supreme Court decision right now, nor do I wish to explain in detail, in this particular post, why homosexual relationships are morally problematic. Instead I would like to focus on the implications of gay marriage for the culture. (It should go without saying to any reader of Plato, that it's a huge philosophical mistake to talk about the cultural effects of gay marriage without first discussing the morality of gay relationships! But I'm going to do it anyway.)
God loves all of us, and his rules are not based on hate and contempt for any person. They are based on his knowledge about what is genuinely best for us, "the perfect law that gives freedom" (James 1:25). It really only takes a mustard seed of faith to believe that an omniscient being just might know a bit more about healthy sexual boundaries than we do.
Even nonreligious people should have the humility to realize that we aren't the first generation to gather experience about how the world works. We live in a culture which is shockingly unrooted from the past. Those who seek to normalize gay relationships should start by taking a long and hard look at previous cultures in which it was culturally tolerated for many generations, and ask whether they would really want to live in a society like those.
Mind you, history never repeats itself exactly. Even those cultures which endorsed same-sex relationships have viewed them as an obviously distinct cultural category from Marriage. That is because they were in tune with basic biological facts which we prefer to ignore, but still, it presents a new situation. For the first time, gay relationships are being modelled on the norms and practices of heterosexual married couples, possibly leading to a more wholesome set of relationship norms.
Except for that annoying rule about not having sex with other people; apparently half of gay couples (not necessarily married) are in explicitly open relationships. (Edit: the underlying study is available here, and some limitations of this study are discussed here.) While I am sure that a small minority of gay couples follow all the rules of traditional sexual morality (no premarital sex, adultury, or divorce) except for the gender of the other partner (and the exclusive use of unnatural sex acts, which necessarily goes along with that choice), let's be honest and admit that, if there were still legal penalties for adultery, Marriage is the last thing that the Gay Rights Movement, taken as a whole, would have wanted. (Not all gay people are on board with this; one of my friends from college is gay and sarcastically pointed out to me that too many gay people regard it as a "license for promiscuity.")
Like anyone else, what gay people need is to turn to Christ and learn to live in freedom from the harmful fleshly desires which are indeed part of the human condition for everyone. But if they cannot accept this, it is far better that they should live in a committed exclusive relationship, than that they should live the notoriously promiscuous, reckless, and obscene lifestyle characteristic of the cultural venues of the gay community. (Note: I do not identify all gay individuals or couples as being members of this "gay community"; those are different things.)
Recently several supposedly Christian denominations have also come out in favor of gay commitment ceremonies. If they are really, really serious about "Marriage Equality", the first step is to emphasize that gay people are otherwise subject to the exact same rules about chastity as everyone else. I have a feeling most of them will welch, saying something about how the "dynamics of oppression" and "homophobia" have made it so that they are "triggered" by hard words like "sin", and that what they really need is "affirmation and welcoming" and some vague talk about "committing to respect the other person for their unique personhood". Bosh. Real love is willing to lay down specific boundaries, the boundaries which are necessary for genuine love to thrive. You simply can't extend an institution like Democracy or Marriage to a new group of people without first giving them a crash course in what the necessary working rules for that institution are. Institutions can't exist without rules, any more than animals can exist without skeletons.
To be clear, a conservative Christian like myself cannot actually endorse any relationship which is forbidden by God. But we can hope and pray that Gay Marriage is at least a step towards a more wholesome life for our friends who are gay, as compared to the likely alternatives. It is a relationship which requires work, sacrifice, and commitment to another person. Perhaps some diluted reflection of God's holiness can shine through a little.
But early signs are not all encouraging. At the most recent Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City, in which the U.S. bishops endorsed new commitment ceremonies for gay couples, the following prayer was offered at an LGBT celebratory Eucharist:
“Spirit of Life, we thank you for disordering our boundaries and releasing our desires as we prepare this feast of delight: draw us out of hidden places and centers of conformity to feel your laughter and live in your pleasure.”
Needless to say, "disordering our boundaries and releasing our desires" sounds more like a pagan orgy than something a Christian priest should say. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33). The Holy Spirit does instill in us the desire for holiness and peace and submission. If a spirit instead releases the desire for sensuality and lawlessness, that's a different kind of spirit, which comes from below, not above. These are ordained Christian clergy, who theoretically believe that gay marriage is required based on justice (due to being the same as straight marriage), but who still can't help but portray it, in their own liturgical ceremonies, as being about transgressive wildness. (Why not celebrate the newfound ability of gay couples to lead honorable and respectable lives of chaste decency, in obedience to God's commandments? Becuase, deep down, they know that's not what they're doing!)
Intellectually, the libertine faction of gay activism (which really wants to destroy marriage) is strictly incompatible with the faction that wants those rules and boundaries (because that's what marriage is), but now for gay people as well as straight people. And yet these two factions are in bed with each other. (Uh, politically, I mean.) Until the "conservative" faction excommunicates the "libertine" faction, even religiously sanctioned gay marriage simply won't approximate to the same thing that it means for straight people.
Many people scoff when conservatives claim that Gay Marriage will harm the institution of Ordinary Marriage, since obviously a small minority of people falling in love with each other can't really affect the majority culture. Unless, of course, the effect on Straight Marriage is positive, then it could totally happen! (Ironically, one of the benefits cited by this article is learning from gay and lesbian relationships that—guess what?—men and women are different and therefore bring different things to a relationship! The obvious next step, of asking whether the "male" traits might naturally complement or balance the "female" traits in some way that produces a more stable and wholesome union, does not seem to occur to them.) Yet, when reading the writings of gay activists, it doesn't take very long to find claims that gay couples can help straight couples break out of the straightjackets of faithfulness and traditional gender roles. Exactly the conservative claim, but now portrayed as a good thing!
But the conservative activists do have it backwards. Gay marriage will not and cannot destroy straight marriage. Straight marriage was already on the rocks, and its boundaries had become disordered to the point where many people could no longer tell what was the difference between it, and another union based primarily on romantic thrills. The existence of gay marriage will accelerate certain harmful trends in how straight people percieve marriage, but not by very much. For the most part, it hurts only the gay couple themselves, and anyone who cares about their well-being.
In any case, there is no need to panic. God's law remains the same as before, and he still works in people's hearts to lead them to repent and follow Jesus. Praise be to the Lord for his unsearchable riches and grace, and may he have mercy on me—a sinner.