[This is rewritten from a post from years ago.]
There are, of course, many factors pushing marriage rates down in the West, and there have been for years. They largely fit within the rubric of “marriage is but a social construct.” And each time society pushes further in that direction, the marriage rate goes down.
It’s not uniquely homosexual marriage. Rather, homosexual marriage is just the most recent sharp nail being driven into the coffin of traditional marriage.
It goes back to the 1960s with the destigmatization of unmarried couples living together, providing a non-marital alternative, which eventually became fully socialized. As a result, the gay-marriage debate suffered from the fact that it’s now perfectly legal for gay couples to live together and be sexually active together. Hence, why was gay marriage even necessary?
The answer normally given is in terms of legal protections — tax exemptions, the right to visit a loved one in the hospital, that sort of thing — arguments that speak to nothing more than social constructs. I mean, the right to file a joint Form 1040 truly is a mere social construct.
The other argument is also legal. It speaks in terms of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Hence, marriage becomes a matter to be decided by the law — either the courts or legislatures — making marriage a matter of positive law rather than a recognition of a pre-existing reality that is in fact much higher and older than the American legal system. After all, people were getting married long before there were constitutions and legislatures of any kind. Indeed, for most of human history, the government had no involvement in marriage and hence no power to create a gay marriage.
Notice that the modern argument is couched in terms of “legalization of gay marriage” as though the question is whether a gay marriage should be legal or illegal, rather than whether there is such a thing as gay marriage at all. After all, the Supreme Court surely has power to decide such things. That’s presumptively given. The only question is whether it’s a good idea, not whether it’s within the power of government to give.
Hence, the modern trend is to treat marriage as a creation of the law — not higher and prior to the law, that is, a mere social construct — all for the convenience of the gay marriage argument and yet contrary to thousands of years of human experience.
Hence, in order for marriage to even be amenable to the power of the state to create new forms of marriage, marriage must be reduced from a God-ordained institution to a creation of government — implicitly empowering the government to create new forms of marriage at will.
And that makes marriage no more right and holy and sacrosanct than, say, a mortgage or a tax return. Marriage is cheapened when it becomes a creation of the state — especially in a world where most people have a fairly low view of those in charge of the state.
Hence, the gay lobby seeks something that will be received with all the glory of Obama-Care or the national budget. Just another law. Just another success by a powerful lobbying group.
That is, to achieve gay marriage, marriage itself must be converted into a political act achieved in all the worst ways that politics happen. The problem isn’t that gay marriage is being elevated to the level of God-created marriage, but that God-created marriage will be reduced to become the product of political hucksterism.
And the inevitable result is that marriage has become less desirable because it has become less holy. Even among the secular-minded, marriage was once recognized as a serious institution with roots independent of and more ancient than the government. But we are headed toward a world in which marriage carries all the ethical and moral weight of an extension of the federal debt limit.
Thus, couples will marry, if at all, solely to gain the legal benefits of marriage, as marriage has now been redefined to consist merely of a bag of legal gifts from Congress. Those couples who aren’t worried about joint tax returns and hospital visitation rights will see no reason to bother — except maybe to please parents who are still old-fashioned enough to find something holy, blessed, and vital in the institution.
And the only counter-argument that’s left to preserve the holiness of traditional marriage I can even imagine is to argue, not that the Bible is silent or permissive on gay marriage, but that gay marriage is ordained by God himself as revealed in the scriptures. And that’s an impossible burden of proof.