PHL 115 ‐ Should Same-Sex Marriage Be Allowed by tyndale


									PHL 115 – Should Same-Sex Marriage Be Allowed?

Jeff Jordan, “Contra Same-Sex Marriage”

There are three different models concerning the nature of “marriage”:

1. Sacramental:
P1:    The Bible defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
P2:    Marriage is the proper environment for sexuality, procreation and the rearing of
P3:    Marriage and the family are basic units of society and are necessary for social
C:     Therefore, society must encourage marriage as essentially heterosexual and

P1 is based on the definition provided by the Bible. It not only assumes the existence of
God, but more specifically a Christian God. Is this applicable to all members of society or
to different societies? Also, what about the ancient (and Biblical) practice of taking
“many wives” – was this against the Bible?
P2 and P3: These can also pertain to ssm (as Rauch argues). As Rauch also argues:
“Marriage merits a privileged legal status, in good part because marriage provides
benefits to society as a whole. These social benefits include providing the best setting for
the rearing of the next generation, and the „civilizing‟ or taming of young males.
Marriage is typically an incentive to maturity.” (Jordan, p. 113)

2. Communional:
P4:   Only the consummation of a male and a female can reproduce.
C:    Therefore, society must encourage marriage as essentially heterosexual and

Since it‟s in our biological “nature (teleological drive) to reproduce, doing anything that
goes against our biological drive is “unnatural” and therefore bad. Although we are
genetically predisposed to reproduce, this is no argument for saying that if we don‟t
reproduce we‟re immoral! (Or, that giving in to our biological drives is moral!) Society
welcomes and sanctions the marriage of couples who clearly aren‟t able to reproduce
(e.g. old couples past child-bearing age). Whose judgment is it that a person who hasn‟t
reproduced isn‟t “fully” human?

3. Transactional:
P5:    Marriage is beneficial to the persons involved.
P6:    Marriage is a transaction regulated by the state.
C:     Therefore,
There is nothing in this argument that makes it essentially applicable only to heterosexual
and monogamous marriages. Neither God not biology nor children are really essential
components in a transactional model of marriage. The emphasis is on legal entitlements
and entanglements.

Jordan‟s main arguments against SSM:
Instead of arguing directly against ssm, Jordan really tries to undermine arguments for

The Equality Argument 1 for SSM:
P1:   In a liberal state, the government should support the strong desires of its members
      and enable them to (responsibly and legally) fulfill these desires.
P2:   In a liberal state (governed by the principle of equality and fairness) the desire of
      one group cannot be at the expense of the desire of another group.
C:    Therefore, if the state supports the desires of heterosexuals to marry, it should
      also do so for homosexuals (or other groups).

Jordan‟s counter-argument 1:
P1:    Marriage provides legal benefits to the partners involved (insurance cover, health
       care benefits, etc.).
P2:    The state pays for many of these through subsidies raised through public taxes.
P3:    Since state subsidies and taxes are burdensome on the public, they should be
       carefully rationed so as to increase the general social good.
P4:    SSM cannot provide the vital goods for society as a whole (procreation and child
C:     Therefore, society should not allow ssm.

The contentious premise here is P4. Is it true that SSM cannot provide vital goods? Rauch
argues: “If it is true that marriage creates kin, then surely society‟s interest in kin
creation is strongest of all for people who are less likely to have children of their own”.
Rauch argues that it is to society’s benefit to stabilize gay relationships. And, in the cases
of SSM where children are involved, “What children, all children, need is protection from
the bleak allure of a culture without commitment and a future without marriage. They
need to grow up taking for granted that love, sex and marriage go together.” (Rauch, p.

Jordan‟s counter-argument 2:
If the Equality argument is based on the premise that the strong desires of free and
informed adults are the legitimate rationale for marriage, then there is no logical reason
why other groups (such as poly-marriage shouldn‟t be allowed). That would mean,
“Anything goes”. And poly-marriages are “without argument … problematic” (Jordan, p.
If the principle of heterosexuality is undermined, then so is the other principle of
monogamy. For Jordan, this is “clearly” immoral. However, he rejects the following
possible arguments:
 Polygyny is harmful to women. (Is it?)
 Polygyny encompasses paternalism and that in itself is undermining and harmful of
     human dignity. (Does polygyny necessarily involve paternalism?)
 Polygyny would result in a skewed market in which the supply of available women is
     diminished. This is socially unstable. (Rauch‟s principle)

For Jordan, the two main counter-arguments against the Equality argument are the:
1. “Anything Goes” implication – the slippery slope. Allow SSM and the next thing you
   know you‟ll have people wanting to marry multiple partners, … and who knows what

       Evidence for the slippery slope argument?

2. The basic tenet of liberalism is for the state not to promote or justify its actions by
   appeal to controversial conceptions of the good (hence the separation of church and
   state in liberal societies). The state should, therefore, be neutral with regard to notions
   of marriage. SSM can only be compatible with the Transactional model of marriage –
   this is a controversial one and therefore not acceptable in a liberal state. It would
   make the state illiberal if it were to adopt a controversial notion of marriage.

       Evidence for the interpretation of “liberalism”? (See, for example, the historical
       arguments re interracial marriages.)

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