Supreme Court’s Re-definition of Marriage
Q: Hello Dr. Craig,
With the recent Supreme court decision regarding same sex marriage I reread some of your Q/A response regarding homosexuality. In a question regarding the connection between interracial marriage and same sex marriage you said “Once we start down that route, anything goes: a man and two women, a man and a child, two men and a goat, etc. I see no reason at all to start down that road.” with regards to same sex marriage. My question is does this statement constitute a slippery slope fallacy? My concern is that non believers would easily dismiss it.
Dr. Craig’s Answer: I’m going to use your question, R.C., an excuse for addressing the Supreme Court’s tragic and misguided decision to re-define marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges.
We need to understand clearly that that is exactly what the Supreme Court has done. By ruling that same-sex unions can count as marriage the Court has implicitly redefined what marriage is. Marriage is no longer taken to be essentially heterosexual, as traditionally conceived, but has been implicitly redefined so that men can be married to men and women to women.
The Court’s majority opinion, written by Anthony Kennedy, shows a clear consciousness of what the Court is doing. Referring to the traditional view, Kennedy writes, “Marriage, in their view, is by its nature a gender-differentiated union of man and woman. This view long has been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world” (my emphasis). It is this view which Court’s majority declares is now obsolete.
What is ironic about Kennedy’s opinion is that he eloquently extols marriage as foundational to American society and to civilization itself. He writes,
From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.
The centrality of marriage to the human condition makes it unsurprising that the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations. Since the dawn of history, marriage has transformed strangers into relatives, binding families and societies together.
One would think that this provides good reason for preserving the traditional concept of marriage, rather than radically redefining it! Instead, the Court throws caution to the wind and has decided to revise this fundamental cultural institution.
In the Court’s view, marriage should no longer be considered to have an essence or nature but is a mere social convention, indeed, whatever the Court declares it to be. The majority opinion justifies this move by pointing out how marriage has evolved: for example, marriage was once viewed as “an arrangement by the couple’s parents” but no longer is so today. Such examples, however, concern only contingent properties of marriage, not its nature or essence (indeed, arranged marriages are still common in parts of the world today). Such contingent changes provide no grounds for the fundamental, essential change wrought by the Court.
By redefining marriage the Court has handed homosexual activists what they have aimed and worked for: the deconstruction of marriage itself…
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