“…one begind to think about the modern institution of marriage in prudential rather than absolutist terms.” A formula sans ideology given pschological underpinnings most negate polarization vis-a-vis semiotics of marriage; a task nearly improbable without lowering debate temperature – people generally take their cues on how to behave from other people.
I have a sociological hypothesis: those gays who advocate same-sex marriage have a proclivity to have a social location: members of the New Knowledge Class.
To work their way into this class demands a lot of giving up family and traditional marriage for educational achievement and social status.
But such persons end up psychologically and institutionally “homeless” to user Peter Berger’s terms. They often don’t want to bear and raise children because they don’t have time for it. They don’t want to give up the entrapments and liberation of high modernity.
If they do want children they want to adopt or foster children. Even where children are not involved they want the same social legitimacy as is given traditional marriage. Some may even want to be icons of the individualism of modernity. Some liberal churches are willing to idolize them as icons of the free, liberated, individual free from all institutions. As cultural elites they don’t want a status inconsistency: a knowledge elite but with social opprobrium of their lifestyle.
If this hypothesis is confirmed then Dr. Berger’s proposal to grant all couples without children the same social status — e.g., civil unions — and reserving “marriage” for a purely private or religious sphere may offer a peaceful resolution.
However, there are those who may not be content until they are elevated into a specially favored class that conversely wants to disparage those in traditional opposite sex marriages. That there is a possible economic motive — affirmative action for educational elites — may be another factor. Here I think of the famous male economist who lacked the skills to advance in the quantification cult of economics and thus changed his sex to female to avail herself of affirmative action sinecures. Such a peace compromise may not satisfy those who are really not seeking equality of status.
Very interesting. I’m glad you understand that logical formula’s don’t and won’t necessarily work.
I wish that “religion” was taken out of the conversation and replaced with “worldview”. Level the playing field. Everyone is certainly not religious they all have a worldview.
The rulings of people led government will always be informed by a worldview, whether it be theistic or naturalistic.
All wars are worldview wars.
That would be particularly useful in clarifying the 1st Amendment, which lays down the principle that the USA shall have no Established Religion. Moral systems that are religions in everything but name (and frequently have greater persecutory zeal — you can be deprived of your livelihood in California for being “insensitive” if you publicly disagree with gay “marriage” at work) have an distinct advantage in enshrining their moral precepts in law.
Very well said. Secularism is not just the absence of religion, but a strong worldview that has transformed Europe and academia.
One point that is always left out of these discussions is the problem of agreement to core texts in public education, specifically for K-8.
Families are depicted in children’s books. Marriage is inescapably depicted.
It is easy to depict a single parent and child without taking any sides in the marriage debate. It’s very normal in any child’s life to spend time alone with one parent or the other. If the parent is a man, he’s a father; if the parent is a woman, she’s a mother.
When two parents with a child are depicted all together, one man and one woman carries forward an ideal.
Gay marriage will require the depiction, by quota, of two men and two women as parents of children even though this is a biological impossibility so far. (So much for science.)
You name it: kindergarten storybooks, word problems in third-grade math textbooks, sentence worksheets teaching conventional grammar usage to fifth-graders.
This is very different from the situation that arose with no-fault divorce and the legalization of abortion.
Divorce is always handled sensitively and as a regrettable event. Less than ideal. The ideal of not-divorcing is upheld. It never shows up in word problems. “Susie wakes up at 7am. She will be handed off to her dad at 1pm. He will return her to her mother at 7pm. Susie goes to bed at 9pm. What fraction of her waking hours are spent with her mother? What fraction with her father?”
Likewise for abortion. You may think it’s fine, I may think it’s murder, but no kindergartner comes to public school at sharing time to describe her family and says “I have a mom and a dad and three aborted sisters and two aborted brothers. One of my aborted brothers had down’s syndrome. The other siblings would have ruined my mother’s life. Oh, and we have a dog named Timothy and a guppy we haven’t named because they die all the time and we flush them down the toilet.”
So adults can war over abortion, out of sight and out of mind of children in the public schools K-8.
Marriage is different. The legalization of gay marriage as a Civil Right will impose one absolute ideal on us all: the sexual plural, which will be taught in the public schools because gays are “parents” etc. Therefore, rather than sex being something that is kept out of sight and out of mind of the youngest children (which used to be a common understanding in America, the one absolute ideal), children will be exposed, as enforced by quotas described above, to (one) ideal of marriage as optimizing (plural) adult sexual satisfactions.
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Lowering the temperature of the debate might just allow us to actually have a debate. Name-calling and bullying from the left, with full complicity in the media, has made reasonable discussion impossible. My hope is that the Supremes uphold Prop 8 and allow this whole thing to slow down so that states can observe over time the effects in states that have attempted to redefine marriage. Then we can begin a real conversation with some real data. If the Supremes attempt to force redefinition on everyone, we will all reap the whirlwind.
“I would point out that what they call “traditional marriage” is in fact bourgeois marriage, a little older than the steam engine, … [refer to] the last of the Ten Commandments, where a wife is counted among man’s possessions, along with his slaves and domestic animals).”
For Catholics and Lutherans, the 9th (wife) and 10th (goods) commandments are separate.
I think that your claim is also more than a little disingenuous.
Do you really think that men actually considered their wives as property — like an oxcart — more than 200 years ago? Were men allowed to burn their wives like they could destroy their property?
Have you ever actually read about personal lives and great loves from a few hundred years ago?
I realize that women were in a relatively poor legal position several hundred years ago, but that is not the same as being property.
The state of marriage in the last 200 to 500 years is surely vastly more relevant to questions about the future of marriage than the state of marriage 3500 or 4000 years ago.
It’s true. I would be hated if I said my wife was my “property” today, but she and my daughter are most definitely my greatest responsibility. I have ownership in their lives.