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June 12, 2008


How do I handle this discusion when a nay sayer brings up infertile couples, and people who are beyond child bearing years?

I largely agree with the view that political legislation is moral legislation. But the claim that "Marriage between men and women is a pre-political, naturally emerging social institution" is just wishful thinking. Some kind of sexual, procreative arrangement? Sure. 'Marriage' as we know it now? No way.
To the 'naysayers' of old couples and infertile couples, add me, and remember polygamy.

If we want government out of our 'private lives', then instead of pushing against gay marriage, why don't we push against the legislation of marriage period? Then the government could (in a limited way) 'help out' those who help raise kids, and various religious groups could marry whomever they please.
I don't think that's necessarily a good idea, but it'd be more consistent than your support for the status quo ('marriage' as we have it is natural, and any change from that is just immoral).

Just a thought.

Hey Wanda,

There's an article on the site that briefly deals with that I think.


I think it's helpful to ask what is their actual argument.

It seems like the person is responding to the argument that the state supports marriage because it is best for the rearing of children.

Their response is to ask, "What about infertile couples, etc?"

But, what is their actual argument?

It appears to be: If an institution generally helps achieve a desired benefit, it is only worth supporting that institution if it always achieves that desired benefit.

Maybe that's not their argument, but it seems like the most likely candidate.

Given that assumption, I know of no reason why that argument should be considered valid. I can think of several reasons why one would want to support institutions that generally achieve a beneficial outcome, even in cases when they don't achieve that outcome.

As just one example, infertile opposite-sex marriages can serve as examples and encouragements to other couple who do have children.

I think it's more likely that the person actually doubts the validity of the argument that opposite-sex marriage is the best environment for rearing children.

Society cannot survive without heterosexual sex as it is responsible for producing 100% of the next generation. The nature of the relationship within which such (heterosexual) sex occurs largely determines the degree of societal blessing or burden with which society will have to deal regarding the rearing of said next generation.

Society blesses the joining together of one man and one woman in a "til death do we part" union because it wants its children produced within such an arrangement and because it wants the couple who did the producing to do the rearing as a general rule. Children who are produced and reared within this arrangement, all other things being equal, will minimize the burden to society that the rearing of the next generation entails and maximize the blessing that the next generation brings.

Society, therefore (or at least a society which is still capable of discerning what is in its own best interest), should consider marriage the only relationship within which sexual behavior (of the kind that can produce the next generation) ought to be condoned, encouraged or expressed.

Why not homosexual marriage? Because homosexual sex produces 0% of the next generation. Society need not feel any compulsion to bless a sexual relationship of a nature which, by nature, has no capacity to bless society with continued existence (or in any other way for that matter).

But why marry infertile couples (or those who are fertile but choose not to reproduce)? In the later case, fertile couples often produce children despite their intention not to, and society wants those children reared within the optimal circumstance. Society’s best interests are as follows: If you’re engaged in the kind of sex that can produce children, you should be married. In the case of the former (infertile couples), as a practical matter, how did they discover their infertility? Most will not until after marriage, in which case the issue is moot. But for the few who know of their infertility before marriage, society can and ought to honor them for the example they set despite their infertility. It is heterosexuality which produces children, and we ought to honor all who practice heterosexual sex in a manner and context which promotes the health of society.


Bruce Byrne

A part of me is in solidarity with my African dBrothers who will hide nothing of their spite and hatred for homosexuality. It doesn,t come up for much discussion and 99% of such people prefer to keep it secret.

I think of it as a spiritual problem and in my heart won't hold it against homosexuals.

How to respond to the infertile couples argument?

How about:

"Every husband and wife can give every child they make (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do that.

It's apples and oranges.


The question of infertility is a red herring argument. Primarily because because no matter fertile a same sex couple might be, having children in a sexual union is impossible. The arugument is not about inferility or age.
Is there a purpose for human sexuality? Is there a purpose for the lungs? Is there a purpose for the stomach? and so on. If so, how then are these to be used? Should we conculde that because some people chose to use their lungs to get high, that that must be for them the purpose of the lungs? And so then the government has to force all others to agree to this (lungs are for getting high) even though we all know this is false and damaging?
Is that how society should run?
Something to think about.

Most Christians recognize at least two functions in marriage: the unitive and the procreative.
What we've heard here is that the procreative function justifies heterosexual but not homosexual marriage.
I think commenters have failed to take seriously the threat to 'traditional marriage' posed by couples (infertile or not) who DO NOT WANT to have children.

The fact of the matter is that while you say marriage is for making babies, that's not factually true. It may be your ideal, but North American marriages are hardly about the babies...

So, by your own logic, there are two solutions: extend the ACTUAL logic of marriage (which emphasizes the unitive OVER the procreative) to cover all relevantly similar cases (and it's hard to see how this wouldn't extend to gays), or advocate for a CHANGE in marriage policy that mandates (or at the very least strongly encourages) procreation, and perhaps make procreation outside of wedlock illegal.

Sound crazy? Maybe it is...


I'm not so certain that unity and procreation are the primary functions of marriage. Either can be had without marriage, and often are.

Marriage may embrace those functions, but it is not necessary for those functions. Marriage has a higher purpose. It is not simply for the purpose of either procreating, or for the purpose of unifying two people who "love each other."

So, there is no threat to traditional marriage posed by couples that don't want to (or are unable to) procreate.

The notion that marriage must be either for the purpose of "making babies" or that same-sex marriages must be sanctioned comes from assuming no higher purpose exists for the institution.

There will always be something missing in the same sex marriage and I doubt that those engaging in it are likely to figure this out. There are aspects of human nature that differ between a man and a woman. Those differences that are brought into a union (i.e. marriage) serve to complete both. Same sex couples can never do that and will never be content, no matter what the legal system decides. They will continue to seek other forms of approvals from society and will find that none of them satisfy the fundamental need of a "real marriage." Same sex couples are chasing what does not exist...real satisfaction within a wrong choice.

I would like to point out that Christianity does not have a monopoly on moral wisdom. Speaking as a Buddhist, we take morality quite seriously and is the cornerstone of a serious Buddhist practice, but in the Buddhist moral view, a same-sex marriage is no different than a traditional one. Marriages in general are treated as secular issues, not religious ones.

However, in the Buddhist five moral precepts for example, the third precept proscribes sexual misconduct, which is defined as anything that harms another and/or yourself. This does not proscribe homosexuality, but does proscribe promiscuity or out-and-out harmful acts. If the relationship in question is monogamous, and both persons are committed and happy, then it is morally permissible in Buddhism.

Just wanted to point out another moral perspective on the issue. Thanks!

"I would like to point out that Christianity does not have a monopoly on moral wisdom."

It is part of the Christian world view that we, as human beings, are capable of discerning moral truths. What religious club we belong to does not change that.

"If the relationship in question is monogamous, and both persons are committed and happy, then it is morally permissible in Buddhism."

Ok. The question here is really one of "Are gays denied rights others are granted when it comes to choosing a same sex partner in a marriage?"

It seems to me that they are being denied that same thing just as everyone else is being denied it. Sounds very much like gays don't like being treated with equality when it comes to marriage. They want to be treated "special". That is not exactly blending into a society, it is an attempt to stand out as an elite with special rights. Elitism is often arrogant. What does Buddhism say about elitism and arrogance and special rights for a particular group?

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