Today, the video below has been floating all over the internet. It is a moving and on the surface, quite compelling speech that this young man gives. However, my friend Chris Van Allsburg gives us reason for pause. He suggests that there is a very logical mistake being made in the celebration of this young man's highly emotive rhetoric. Well, enough of me, I'll let him speak for himself. In this Guest Post, his article is provided in-full below and please, check out his site HERE.
The video shared on the net and primarily through facebook about the fine, young man raised by two lesbians is being used to show that it is indeed possible for a person to be raised as a responsible, educated, and industrious citizen without the aid of a male/female parentage, the latter vision of which so often appears in the minds of people when the term "traditional marriage" is invoked as a cultural norm. After all, we must ask ourselves, is it not better, indeed--far better--for such a situation to occur than for one to be raised in an abusive, albeit "traditional home"? We should not dispute that it is not better. Of course it is better to be raised in an atmosphere of love, compassion, encouragement, et. al, as opposed to one of ridicule, neglect and abuse. What would the world be like if all children had such a life? The world would instantly change into a paradise full of grown-ups fulfilled in every sense with the self-esteem required in order to apply personal ambition and dreams, as well as the selflessness required in order to perpetuate this kind new world rolling with fields of love and compassion. Ah, blessed hope! To this end we are striving.
The young man appeals to the courts and to his fellow citizens to please vote in favor of gay marriage. "After all," we are told, "look at me: I'm a fine citizen and proof of what is necessary in order to make the world a better place. Imagine if I had been raised in a home where there was no love, or an abusive home. I could be a common criminal, but instead I am a fine, upstanding young man." We applaud this young man!
But wait. Let's put our emotions aside and think for a moment. Is something good because it produces a desired result? Let's think of a different scenario. Think of a parent who *does* abuse his child. The child is beaten upon the first instance of disobedience. The child is chided when mistakes are made in school. The child is given a stern look when "tomfoolery" is detected. The child then grows up to be a hard-working, industrious, educated, producer--a CEO of a big business. He provides jobs for 1000's of people. He gives to charity. Maybe his marriage suffers (or even fails) because he is unable to enjoy life because of his upbringing and his work ethic and his askance toward "tomfoolery" aka, "having a laugh." But all the same--he's a good guy. Now, would we argue that his abusive parents (or dad) was right in doing so? After all, look at what has been produced? That's ridiculous, you say. You are right--it is ridiculous to say his stern, mean father was good and right for doing what he did and *being* who he was.
"But wait," you say. You're are using a bad example, for our example is one of two, loving lesbians who raised an upstanding young man, whereas your example is one of a harsh, stern parentage (or, just the dad) which produced something similar." Correct again. But perhaps you will see my point in this: the outcome of something does not validate its origins, and this we call pragmatism. Pragmatism says, "If it works, it's good." In our case of the lesbian couple, we are told to vote "yes" for gay marriage because of a particular outcome, in this case, the outcome of a fine, upstanding young man. (Of course, we know nothing of this man's personal life, other than a 3-minute video, so we really know him not at all, but let us take it for granted that these 3 minutes are sufficient to the task at hand). Pragmatic theories of ethics are not desirable tests for social structures, however. For pragmatism proves nothing except that some things work. Many cultures have resorted to pragmatism in order to produce desired results: Stalinist Russia, the Nazis, pagans who sacrifice to idols, Southerners who owned slaves. So, just because something produces a desired result, does not mean it is, in and of itself, good and right. And, we should note that while we can be thankful that such a fine, young man has had his genesis and nurture from this lesbian couple, it does nothing to say for others who may have been raised in similar household who have not enjoyed such success. Does one, good example nullify any (possible) negative ones?
Please note: I am not comparing those who support gay marriage to the aforementioned groups who have committed atrocious crimes against humanity. These are only glaring examples of pragmatism.
If gay marriage is going to be argued as something that our society should affirm, proponents of it need to argue on better grounds than those of pragmatism, for as we have seen, pragmatic arguments are weak, and should not be accepted as solid criterion upon which to build a societal ethic.
Now, we may also note that the argument is also that
*two people who love each other should not be told they cannot marry.
But we need to ask ourselves why we should limit ourselves to *two* people in a marriage? And what rules should there be concerning age, or relation? The argument proposed by the proponents of gay marriage rests on "two people in love with each other." But surely this is insufficient. There is an intuitive, unmentioned assumption that the following rules apply:
1) no close relatives
2) no minors married to adults
3) no human/nonhuman unions
4) no minors married to minors
5) no more than *two* people per marriage.
But why, and on what grounds? If we must throw away the traditions that bind and oppress us and keep us from loving each other, then why must we obey rules 1-5? (Rules 1-5, by the way were codified millennia ago by Moses to his fellow Hebrew freedmen). What of the old woman who loves her faithful pet? What of the uncle who loves his niece? What of the cousins who love each other? We'll not go further and insult ourselves with gross illustrations. Ah, I've insulted you now. I should stop. But, please allow me to ask: why must we obey any rules at all? Why must rules 1-5 apply? After all, who is to say that it is wrong? And how would you respond to someone who says, "But we love each other?"
By now perhaps you are angry with me, for I have dared to make such statements and ask such questions. But I am only asking questions, and I am asking what I do trust is done so in humility and love. For now, however, the burden of proof is not upon the "traditionalist" but on those who would change the tradition of one man/one woman for marriage (with additional rules about age and relation). Yes, the burden of proof is on the proponents of gay marriage to provide grounds for their position, based not upon pragmatism, and also to answer questions 1-5, and especially number 5.