Ancient Greeks highlight gay marriage flaws
I have many friends around the world, some of whom are gay, and some of whom are lesbian. At the heart of those friendships is a desire to see people for who they are, and not for the people with whom they have sex.
- July 1, 2015
- Bill O'Chee
Yet for all that, I do not support the state legislating to create a class of marriage between two men or two women. Moreover, I believe the arguments advanced in favour of gay marriage reflect poorly upon those who advocate for it.
Gay marriage is not about colouring your Facebook page avatar with a rainbow, nor is it about whether a man may have genuine feelings of love for another man, or a woman another woman. The discussion is, instead, about complex and fundamental issues not always properly considered.
If we go back over 2000 years, we find that both the Greeks and Romans were familiar with love and sex between people of the same gender. Indeed, for the Greeks, same sex relationships were neither uncommon, nor frowned upon; in fact they were probably much more common than they are today.
As was their way, the Greeks felt the need to use different words to describe what they saw as different types of love.
There could be agápe, brotherly love, or love of God; or storge, the love of parents and their children. The Greeks also spoke of philia, which was an idealised form of friendship based on equality and virtue; and of éros, which was sexual passion. Interestingly, éros was not restricted by gender.
Even in such a permissive society, gamos was reserved solely for a relationship between a man and a woman for the purposes of creating a family, even if that relationship might not originally be based on love.
There is much we can learn from the Greeks. The modern reality is that the vast majority of people who love each other live together without getting married, even if they may choose to do so later.
The law has moved to accommodate this, and common law couples are able to pass property to each other, to benefit from their partner's superannuation policy, and make decisions as next-of-kin, just the same as those who are married.
If that is so, why do heterosexual couples, who may have been living together for some time, choose to get married?
It is not about love, as that can be had perfectly well in a normal de facto relationship. In fact love - true and deep love - should not need outside validation, and should be independent of what others have to say.
Heterosexual couples don't need to marry to have children, as many children are born to de facto couples, even if some or many of those couples marry later.
However, the vast majority of heterosexual couples who chose to marry, either have children at the time, or intend to have them, and this is the impetus for marriage. Marriage gives those a stability and a clear identity that is the basis of their lifelong emotional development.
Certainly there may be people who marry who don't intend to have children, but they are a tiny minority, and certainly should not be used to characterise marriage.
So the truth is that marriage is not so much about love for our partner, as much as love for the children we hope to bring into the world.
It is at this point that the case for gay marriage starts to fall apart, because having children cannot ever be a natural consequence of two men or two women forming a union, no matter how genuine their emotions may be.
And if the motive for gay marriage is to make it easier for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, or to access the powers of the state to bring children into the world through surrogacy or artificial insemination, then it is no longer about the love two people feel for each other, and more about wanting babies as lifestyle accessories.
This brings us to a broader, but important, philosophical issue.
I strongly believe the right to determine one's identity - sexual and otherwise - is one of the very few truly inalienable rights which society should accord every individual.
Determining our identity - and deciding on how we live our lives - necessarily involves many choices.
Choices, however, come with consequences. Those consequences are the very reason we make choices: we sum up the advantages and disadvantages each choice brings, and make our decisions on that basis.
To believe that we can make choices about the way we want to live our lives, and then have the state come in and relieve us of the consequences we don't like is deeply flawed. The whole basis of the law is built on people being responsible for the consequences of their actions, and marriage and families should be no different.
It is easy and glib to talk about "marriage equality" but what is more important is seeing through our choices to make sure they are meaningful. This doesn't diminish the love that gay and lesbian couples may feel for each other. However marriage has a real purpose which is larger than our love for ourselves or our partners, and it is selfish to see it otherwise.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Ancient Greeks highlight gay marriage flaws