Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rod Dreher on Marriage

Rod Dreher is a social conservative. I am assuredly not. Still. I always find him worth reading, and this post was no exception:

You know, I agree with Huckabee and others that if the legal and cultural definition of marriage is taken to be fluid and entirely subjective, that there's no limit on how far we can take it. But let's get real here: gays and their pro-same-sex-marriage allies are only lagging indicators of a vast cultural shift that, yes, heterosexuals forced. In the 1960s and since, marriage as an institution was revolutionized. No longer did people think of it as having an essential sacred meaning. Rather, people came to think of it as a contractual agreement between willing parties. Once that happens, the game is over. I'm not saying that people think of marriage solely in contractual terms. But divorce law and practice today does reflect that fundamental redefinition of marriage. It seems to me that cultural conservatives concerned (rightly) with the loss of the traditional understanding of marriage, both in the culture and in the law, lost the battle 30 and 40 years ago. Opposition to gay marriage looks to many SSM proponents like irrational prejudice because so many Americans long ago conceded, whether they knew what they were doing or not, that marriage is essentially contractual, and has no organic connection to transcendental values -- at least none that should be reflected in the law.

To put it another way, if most heterosexuals considered traditional marriage to be sacred, there wouldn't be so much divorce, and there wouldn't be so much cohabitation. I think SSM proponents understand this intuitively, which is why the more fair-minded of them believe anti-SSM folks argue in bad faith. Mind you, the fact that the majority made a bad decision a generation ago is no reason to accept the further development of that decision's consequences without protest. But recognizing that the deconstruction of traditional marriage did not start with the gay rights movement is necessary if cultural conservatives are to realistically understand where we are in this culture, where we're likely to go, and what the prospects for cultural renewal along the lines we recognize really are (answer: dismal).


Read it all here.

What do you all think?

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