What Harm? – The Argument for Gay Marriage
The news has been dominated this week with two arguments before the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, the Court heard arguments related to California Proposition 8 and on Wednesday the focus was on a broader national scale as lawyers volleyed over the Defense of Marriage Act.
Cable news personalities, radio talk show hosts, and pundits on both sides have parsed the comments and questions of the justices trying to gain insight into their thinking and what ultimately will be their judgment.
One particular comment from Associate Justice Elena Kagan caught my attention and it should catch yours as well. In the course of arguments over the Proposition 8 case, Kagan asked the question: What harm is there to the institution of marriage or to opposite-sex couples if marriage were extended to include same-sex partners?
That’s the question and that’s the argument.
“What harm?”…It also represents an attitude.
Isn’t this our attitude toward our own personal sin? “What harm will it cause?” “No one will be affected.” “It’s just a small thing.”
“What harm?” is the beginning point for justification of that which we know is wrong, but so desperately want to make right.
“What harm?” was the root of the serpent’s lie to Eve as she was considering the fruit of the forbidden tree.
“What harm?” was floating around in Abraham’s mind as he bedded Hagar who bore Ishmael, who would become the father of Islam.
“What harm?” was even in the heart of Judas as he betrayed Jesus. After all, they were going to arrest him anyway. Right?
“What harm?” is a dangerous question to ask because the answer always falls in favor of the one seeking to step outside the bounds of what is normal into the realm of a “new normal.” It is a hazardous road for a nation or culture to go down because there is never an ultimate destination. This road has no end.
I was actually surprised to hear associate justice Kagan use this line of thinking in her questioning. I would have expected much more from a justice of the United States Supreme Court. She is a very smart woman but this question smacked of stunted thinking.
If “What harm?” is used to redefine marriage from opposite-sex couples to same-sex couples, then why can we not travel down this same road to the next exit? “What harm is there to the institution of marriage if a man wants to have two wives? How does that harm a man and a woman in a monogamous marriage?”
And then the next exit: “What harm is there to the institution of marriage if a mother marries her adult daughter?” Since we have already passed the exit of same-sex couples, why draw a line at familial relations? What possible harm could there be?
Using this line of thinking, how could the court, or society, or any one person ever object or draw a line on ANY kind of relationship that wanted to identify itself under the banner of marriage? You see, when a society sanctions one sin it becomes impossible to eventually not sanction all sin.
We may delude ourselves into thinking that there is “no harm” and that is the greatest deception of all. Sin has crippled us. Our culture and nation (along with all the nations of the world) are under the crushing weight of sanctioned sin. Sickness, disease, murder, rape, war, and all manner of evil are running unchecked. All the result of sin. All the result of one sin, that was committed in a Garden at the dawn of creation. Just one sin and one question that was asked before that first bite…”What harm?”