I know I shouldn’t wade into the New York controversy on a Monday morning, but I do think it is worth considering the question, “What is marriage?” The successful effort of late in New York has redefined marriage to mean something that it has not meant before. The state has changed the reality of what we know as marriage.
Obviously, I would object to a redefinition on “religious” grounds (see Romans 1:18ff). But this issue is not necessarily a “religious” issue. It is a “reality” issue. George Weigel has a thoughtful explanation of what the decision in New York means in terms of the power of the state to impose its own reality on the citizenry. Please give his column a thoughtful read without the emotional, knee-jerk thoughtlessness of many comments I have read lately by gay rights advocates who believe gay marriage is a civil rights issue. The issue is not a civil rights issue (for reasons Weigel explains). The issue is one of dismantling reality into an alternate image desired by political power.
The issue is an attempt to redefine reality. Such a redefinition does not enlarge us, it diminishes us by disconnecting us from the rails of reality. A train does not become more free by jumping off its tracks–even if the field it enters promises to be vast and expansive and full of riches. Marriage has been defined and is defined a certain way. Pretending it can be another might make some feel better about themselves for a short season, but it will do nothing to protect and preserve humanity.
Reality is what it is, and no state–not even New York–has the authority to alter it. Sadly, what I believe will follow in New York is a whole new set of freedoms lost in an attempt to maintain this new unreality. Religious freedom will be the first freedom to go. Freedom of speech will be second. The state will have to control its newfangled reality by force because it will not be able to rely on what is self-evidently obvious any longer. So, the state will have to force religious charities to act according to its legalized unreality. Then, the state will force its citizenry not to speak against its brave new order of legislated reality. That is what I think this decision means from a political perspective. That is why, sociologically speaking, I oppose New York’s new law.
Read Weigel’s piece. I think he explains it well from a non-sectarian perspective.