Two Main Arguments against Gay Marriage


The recent U. S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage caused fierce discussion all over the world.  Some celebrate it as an advance of human rights, others condemn it as an assault on morality and traditional family values.  I never hated homosexuals, but 10 years ago I would oppose the idea of gay marriage. Over the time, I changed my views.  Today I think any seemingly rational argument against gay marriage can be ultimately reduced to the two core arguments:

  1. Physical disgust towards homosexuality
  2. Religion (God says so) declaring homosexuality immoral with no explanation whatsoever

In my experience, these are the only two unrefutable arguments against same-sex marriage.  They are unrefutable because they are irrational. I challenge you to find a rational argument that don’t have one of these two at the root.  I’ll deal with the most common “rational” arguments later, but first, a few words about these two.

Disgust is a natural reaction allowing us to avoid dangers such as disease or parasites.  It’s similar to fear — a completely irrational subconscious emotion.  People can be disgusted by anything.  For instance, people can be disgusted by mice, cute little creatures.  Nevertheless, mice can transmit disease, so disgust towards mice is understandable.  Just today I have read in an anti-gay comment that “a picture of two men kissing is disgusting, but a picture of a man and a woman kissing is natural and beautiful”.  What?  Sticking my tongue into another person’s mouth full of germs and tasting her saliva and whatever remains from her breakfast on her teeth?  Eew!

I was in the first grade when I saw a pornographic heterosexual picture brought to school by one of my classmates for the first time in my life.  I was shocked!  “Why in the world,” I thought, “would a man ever put his peepee inside her… hey! what hole is that, by the way?  Isn’t that where the poop comes out?  No?  Whatever!  Still close.  Eew!  That’s gross!  How would it cross anyone’s mind to do that?!”  Apparently, my attitude towards the orifices of the opposite sex has changed over time.  You may be surprised, but now I find them enjoyable.  I can totally understand that two men or two women can please each other physically and, perhaps, even better than the opposite sex simply because a same-sex partner’s body is more familiar.  It’s not my cup of tea, but nobody makes me drink it.  So, why would I force anyone to do what I enjoy?

Getting familiar with the source of disgust or fear is the way to overcome them both. People often fear or stay away from the unknown just to be on the safe side. These unjustified fears follow people like ghosts and are passed from generation to generation until nobody remembers how they started.  With this in mind, getting into the face of the anti-gay folks with pride parades makes sense.  It’s painful and unpleasant for the people undergoing this therapy, but there seems no other way to overcome those phobias.  One can’t argue against disgust with reason.  Sometimes, humans can overcome their instincts with intellect.  But, as Eeyore said, “We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”

Mark 11:14

Religion.    People quote many passages in the Bible to argue against homosexuality.  In Genesis 1, God created a man and a woman to enjoy each other.  But Genesis 1 contains no prohibition of homosexuality.  Show me one if I missed it.  Apparently, it was not needed back then because it was hard to find a same-sex partner.

It is very common to hear that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality.  The word sodomy originated from this passage.  But let’s read the story in Genesis 19 carefully.  What we see there is, actually, an attempt to gang-rape Lot’s two male guests by a mob of male citizens.  This is a case of blatant sexual violence having nothing to do with consensual sex between two adult same-sex individuals.  Ezekiel 16:49 confirms that the sin of Sodom was not sodomy (thanks, archaeopteryx1, for pointing this out).

The next prohibition is in Leviticus 18:22:

 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

Good old disgust, no other reasons are given.  The long list of sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18, however, seems to be aimed at maximizing fertility, avoiding incest and family feud over sexual partners.  Many of them make sense in this context.  Perhaps, increasing the population was a priority in the biblical time, but today overpopulation seems to be a bigger concern. Not a word about lesbians in Leviticus, by the way.

Leviticus 20:13 suggests to put homosexuals to death along with other categories of citizens.  Do civilized people follow those to the letter?  When was the last time even the Orthodox Jews stoned a sabbath breaker?  And hasn’t Jesus override “eye for an eye” with “love your neighbor“?  Stoning your neighbor for a same-sex relationship “so that he doesn’t burn in hell forever” — how’s that for love is patient, love is kind“?

Speaking of Jesus.  What does the Gospel say about homosexuality?  Here is a quote:

Nothing.  Show me a single direct quote of Jesus’s own words on homosexuality.  Jesus quotes Genesis 1 in Mark 10:6-9  on joining the man and the woman to become “one flesh” but where does this passage prohibit homosexuality?  The context of Mark 10:6-9 is divorce — a totally different topic.  It’s a stretch to apply this quote to homosexual marriage.

Most of the “anti-gay” quotes in the NT are found in the Epistles.  In 1 Corinthians 6:9-13 Paul says that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God along with idolaters, adulterers, fornicators, and other folks.  Why?  Just because.  There is no logic.  It’s by definition.  I can understand why idolatry is bad.  I can understand how adultery hurts feelings.  I can understand why random sexual contacts can be harmful.  I don’t understand why a woman loving another woman is a sinner and a worse person than a woman loving a man.  Shall I blindly follow everything the Bible prescribes?  I’m afraid, I will be  walking down the street with a machine gun every Saturday killing people who bent down to tie their shoes or doing anything remotely resembling work.  By the way, is stoning sabbath breakers considered work?  Well, perhaps I will have to wait until Monday to do that.  Bummer…

So, if I use logic to follow the Bible, I will violate many Biblical commands and miss out on the Kingdom of God.  But If I don’t think and just blindly do what the Bible says, I will end up in an ER with my hands chopped off and my eyes plucked or worse.  I’m screwed either way.  Tough choice.

To sum up, from my experience, all “rational” arguments against same-sex marriage are based on two irrational ones: 1) physical disgust with homosexuality and 2) religion simply declaring homosexuality immoral with no other reason than, again, physical disgust or a mere definition. If you have an argument that does not stem from these two, I’d be very interested to hear.  Feel free to leave a comment.

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30 thoughts on “Two Main Arguments against Gay Marriage

  1. I think the disgust factor is mostly societal. For the British and Americans, for example, there’s a lot of “I don’t eat this” or “I couldn’t eat that.”
    You don’t see that in France or Spain. In a way I think it’s an affectation. I’ve met many gay men who make faces when they talk about sex with women, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous. If a man is in an unlit room and receives oral sex, he will climax. The giver of the oral sex could be a toothless (maybe that’s better?) orangutang of either sex.
    MDMA is an interesting experiment in that sense. Whenever I’ve taken it I’ve been completely open to male or female sexual relations. Availability and beauty being the more important factors.

  2. I think perhaps there is a third argument, one which is both rational and yet which does not reduce to either being caused by disgust or religion. Gay marriage in a sense may suggest a signifier that sexuality and love obtain on a sliding scale of gender preference, and this, because of societal conditioning, runs counter to beliefs many hold about themselves, yet which in fact are somewhat shaky in their foundation. So, for such types and on a conscious level, it may be rational for them to object to the idea of homosexuality and its embracing by societal law as they do not recognise that their own sexuality is in some degree ambiguous, and most people, men in particular, do not. Does this argument hold water with you Agrudzinsky?

    • You language is a bit difficult. If, I understand you right, the opposition to gay marriage is caused by a cognitive dissonance experienced by people when they realize that there can be different combinations of biological sex, psychological sexual identity, and sexual orientation. Is that the right interpretation? Correct me if I’m wrong.

      Well, people who argue against homosexuality never present this as an argument against it. Even realizing that this may be the reason why I may be opposed to homosexuality requires a level of self-understanding that anti-gay people are not capable of. People capable of such self-analysis would also realize that their opposition to gay marriage is irrational, wouldn’t they?

      Also, can’t this be reduced to #2 — identity issues related to religion and tradition?

      • Firstly, I am not suggesting that my third argument is one that is ever presented to others; rather, I am suggesting that some do not recognise that the real cause of their consciously held yet private objection, is directed as much towards their own repressed sexuality, and which they refuse to acknowledge at a conscious level, as it is to others who do indeed acknowledge it.

        I am also a little unclear about your reading of my own original comment; let me try and rephrase it for greater clarity:

        The great majority of people feel certain at a conscious level of their sexual identity; they think they’re either straight or gay – there are no shades of grey for them. This is the paradigm that society presents to them, and which they feel they must adhere to; they must declare, if only in private to themselves, that their sexual orientation is one or the other of straight or gay. Women are less rigid in maintaining this dichotomy, often being more willing to acknowledge that one’s sexuality rests on a sliding scale of preference – it is not all or nothing. Women, in my experience, are therefore far more likely to experiment sexually with both genders. Men, in contrast, are largely fearful of doing so. These are generalisations of course.

        So, for the person who holds rigidly to the idea that they have one unidirectional sexual orientation, this is largely an article of faith. And just as with any religious faith, it is susceptible to doubt. That is because, if you accept my premise, then their faith is indeed misplaced and could shatter at any time under the right circumstances. At a subconscious level, and again as with the religious, this is recognised. To use your expression, then there is indeed a cognitive dissonance of sorts, although it is perhaps more accurate to call it a dissonance between conscious belief and the will of the body. Symbols such as gay marriage may threaten to bring into the light of consciousness this same repressed and hence subconscious tension, and so may be rejected as being valid societal institutions. That seems to me to be a rational response to an internal conflict which itself subsists beneath the level of rationality.

        “Can’t this be reduced to #2 — identity issues related to religion and tradition?” It could at a stretch perhaps, although it is nothing whatsoever to do with divinities or morality of any hue. It passes the #2 test only in respect to cultural conditioning i.e. tradition.

        Exhibit 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLEqH00nQac

        • I see. Here is a very interesting story about sexual identity

          I agree that many people who consider themselves “straight” once in a while experience a homosexual attraction like C.K. Lewis describes. I know I did as a boy. I know other boys did. I recall being in a camp when I was 7 or 8 years old. I was sleeping in a room with 3 other boys. My roommates got a little mischievous one night and ended up undressing and getting in bed with each other. No sex, of course, but their experimenting was, clearly, sexual. I did not participate simply because it felt awkward. It would have felt even more awkward with girls at that age. After that camp, I have not seen the boys for years. I met one of them when I was 16. We changed a lot, and he behaved as if he does not remember me. I think, he did, though, because I felt that he is avoiding me, probably, ashamed of that experience 10 years ago.

          I know women who actually oppose gay marriage, but nevertheless have fantasies of sex with other women or make comments about other women indicating that they are physically attracted to them.

          You are very right that people are conditioned to put themselves into boxes and most people don’t fit into these boxes neatly. There are pieces of identity that stick out of the box and it bothers those people. And they hate people who remind them of those dangling pieces that make them feel as misfits.

          One of my favorite quotes:

          “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

          ― Hermann Hesse, Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend

          Actually, I do understand #2 as social conditioning in a broad sense — “declaring homosexuality immoral with no explanation whatsoever”. The “explanation” is “it’s immoral because it’s immoral and has always been immoral” followed by a bunch of Bible quotes starting from Genesis 1, i.e. appealing to tradition.

        • These factors are interconnected. People may feel disgust because of social conditioning. Just as social conditioning can make people enjoy disgusting things, e.g. smoking or alcohol. Initial reaction to smoking and alcohol is disgust — headache and vomit. Likewise, social stereotypes are influenced by the feeling of disgust. These can be two sides of the same coin.

        • Excellent, and many thanks for your candour, the video which makes my point well, as well as for the lovely quote from Hermann Hesse which again demonstrates the same point more generally.

  3. Good to hear from you again, Agrudinsky – long time.

    Was the sin of Sodom sodomy? Ezekiel thought not – 16:49 (KJ21):
    49 “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

    And there is another point to consider, at least in the USA, and that is the fact that same-sex marriage was given the green light by the highest court in the land – one of three ultimate authorities of the country.

    Paul, in Romans 13:1 makes it clear: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” – proof positive that the Bible’s god approves of same-sex marriage, therefore he set his bow on WordPress, to remind himself not to bring any more hurricanes because of Gay Pride parades.

    • Yes. For those who read the text and not the popular commentaries, it is fairly clear that the sin of Sodom is unrelated to anal sex.

      And good point regarding Romans 13:1.

      Religious leaders and the mob are known to let the murderers go and crucify those who preach love as blasphemers. This is also quite biblical. Nothing is new under the sun.

        • The jpeg is not mine. I found it somewhere else on WordPress. I’m using a URL link, so, I suppose, a credit is not necessary since the reference is in the URL. Not sure about these rules on WordPress, though. I think, it’s a great illustration of “literal misinterpretation” of the Bible.

  4. There are two others, but both are weak:

    The first one is that homosexuality is unnatural, therefor bad. But animals can be homosexual, and there are plenty of things humans do that can be called unnatural. Furthermore, everything in the universe is technically natural, so the argument is fallacious, and just because something is ‘unnatural’ doesn’t make it bad. God is unnatural, is he bad?

    The second is just a slippery slope argument, claiming that marriage equality will lead to humans marrying animals. But 1. that has been done before, and 2. women voting didn’t lead to animals voting. Slippery slopes don’t really exist.

    I have also heard the ‘gay marriage causes (insert disease here), but this argument is not based on evidence, and the ‘gay marriage doesn’t benefit our species, so it’s wrong. But there are plenty of things that don’t benefit our species, and it still isn’t a good reason to prevent it. We don’t need any more humans on the planet, 7 billion is more than enough!

    • Well, you refuted those. I’d like to make a separate post collecting those in one place. The arguments containing words “natural” and “unnatural” are especially amusing.

      My point is that after you peel those layers one by one like an onion, under all of them you will find 1) disgust or 2) religion.

    • Actually, McLasper, there was a case in Europe in which a woman was legally allowed to marry her horse – I don’t have the link, but google it, it’s out there. I have also heard some say that the ruling allows people to marry turtles – that may be, but fellatio with a snapping turtle really doesn’t sound like something to which I would care to subject myself.

            1. Religion does not always lead to fanaticism and violence. Most religious people are not violent. 2. Other things also lead to fanaticism and violence. E.g. soccer or communism (a nonreligious ideology).

            Conclusion – fanaticism and violence are caused by something that is common between religion, soccer, and communism. But each of those things have other benign or even useful elements and, by themselves, are not harmful.

            My take, it’s “us vs. them” mentality. It’s the belief that a group of people (“them”) is inherently evil or immoral because of their religion, favorite soccer team, social class, etc. Usually, people who commit the violence perceive themselves as superior to other people (pride). When this sense of superiority and “us vs. them” mentality is absent, neither religion, nor soccer, nor communism does not cause violence. Would you agree?

            Religious beliefs are unfalsifiable and, therefore, unscientific. Science cannot prove them true or false. It does not make them true, but you can’t say they are false either.

            Strict logic does not support the idea that religion causes harm. I had a detailed post about it some time ago.

          • Religion was always a supporter of opressors and communism fights all kinds of opression. The fact that it is impossible to entirely prove that god does not exist does not take the possibility of its existence to the level of 50% , no this possibility is vanishingly small, and the possibility of god’s non- existence is, though not absolute, but immense.

          • Religion was always a supporter of opressors…

            This is, obviously, false. Religion sometimessupports oppressors and sometimes it inspires and leads liberation movements. The main holiday in Judaism, the Passover, is about liberation from slavery. MLK was a pastor, and Gandhi was deeply religious. So, there is no clear connection between religion and oppression.

            …and communism fights all kinds of oppression

            Fine examples of such fight against oppression are the Soviet system of GULAG prison camps, where all the “oppressors” were sent, and the modern North Korea.

            Do you believe the “self-evident truth” that “all men are created equal”? It’s an obvious falsity. Men come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. Some “truths” are not factual.

  5. wow ok here goes, first of all these isn’t the best summary for arguments against homosexual marriage there is also the role of sex and its telos beyond gonadial pleasure but that’s for another day.
    I truly agree with the opinion that singularly disgust is maybe the worst argument for anything because and i repeat singularly it can be choked up to anything and everything hence the irrationality you proclaim but when any incomprehensibly occurring biological reaction occurs in aggregates as response to the same object sometimes in the same fashion we cannot choke it up to an irrational response.
    Just like women used to climax during sex and experience an orgasm which was unknown for a time(its workings more or less revealed during Masters study of human sexuality) and probably most people just thought that it was probably just something that women did but there was clearly a direct physical connection to that random ‘irrational’ response to sex because it was in the context of intercourse.
    And no i am not a proponent of saying ‘gay rights are not right because i am disgusted’ but when a considerable number are disgusted and cite it as a reason maybe there is more working in the background that we think.Further investigation never hurt anyone but blatant dismissal of a possible rationale behind the said irrational act is plain cowardice.The true measure of logic is its application not its denial, if there is nothing to find you must at least enter the cave and see that there is nothing other than standing outside and deciding it’s uninhabited.
    Thank you fir these bold pieces, very riveting indeed.

    • …first of all these isn’t the best summary for arguments against homosexual marriage…

      It’s impossible to cover all of these arguments in a short post. My point is that most of them, in my experience, are covering the two I mention.

      there is also the role of sex and its telos beyond gonadial pleasure

      I agree. The role of sex is not reduced to either pleasure or reproduction. On the other hand, people marry for other reasons than sex and reproduction also. This notion dismisses another popular anti-gay-marriage argument that gay marriages do not conduce to childbirth.

      when a considerable number are disgusted and cite it as a reason maybe there is more working in the background that we think

      I have mentioned that the role of disgust is to prevent catching a contagious disease or a parasite. That’s why we feel disgusted by most discharges from the body and avoid eating creatures like worms or flies. But often disgust is instilled socially. E.g. I don’t feel inclined to try eating a frog, although in France frog legs are considered a delicacy. So, my disgust to frog legs is cultural. And, although I myself still don’t feel like trying frog legs for dinner, I understand that banning people from eating them is unreasonable. (By the way, frogs are considered unclean by the biblical standards). I suppose a ban on pork would have as much basis as the ban on frog legs. If you see a legitimate reason to feel disgust towards homosexuality, I’m interested to know. Does it spread disease more than regular sex, especially when people don’t share partners? Are there other functions of disgust that I’m not aware of?

      Further investigation never hurt anyone but blatant dismissal of a possible rationale behind the said irrational act is plain cowardice.The true measure of logic is its application not its denial, if there is nothing to find you must at least enter the cave and see that there is nothing other than standing outside and deciding it’s uninhabited.

      I’ve considered many “logical” arguments against gay marriage and I used to agree with some of them before, so, you can’t say I “have not entered the cave”. I’m not blindly dismissing any arguments. I just would like to find an argument that cannot be dismissed.

      By the way, I’m not dismissing disgust or religion. Those are good reasons to avoid homosexuals and gay marriages. But, imo, they are not good reasons to ban gay marriages for everyone else.

      • Okay, i hear you on disgust and personally i have not found any legitimate reason to feel disgusted by homosexuals in fact i myself am not disgusted but then again i haven’t really looked into it.And i have observed much disgust towards the community in general and probably it can be choked up to a very nonsensical cultural intolerance but is that really all it is?
        This is my only inquiry.
        The last part of this comment section is particularly confusing for me in its contradiction you say that disgust and religion is and i quote a good reason to avoid gay marriage but not good to ban the same?Why the duality, i mean if something is wrong and we know it is then why tolerate it?
        And i do apologize for the cave remark i spoke out of turn there.

        • And i do apologize for the cave remark i spoke out of turn there.

          You are welcome to comment whatever comes to your mind.

          but is that really all it is? This is my only inquiry.

          There is an interesting video about the connection between politics and disgust and how disgust as an irrational response is exploited for political purposes. So far, I have not found any reasons to feel disgust towards homosexuality other than cultural conditioning.

          Why the duality, i mean if something is wrong and we know it is then why tolerate it?

          I’m not tolerating gay marriage. I wouldn’t live in one a single day. When I hate a food, I don’t eat it. But how can I keep others from eating it? People do what they do. Banning gay marriages won’t get rid of homosexuality. Banning abortions, for example, won’t stop people from having them. But it would make them even more dangerous and damaging than they already are. So, even though I am against abortions, I am also against banning them. Does banning drugs get rid of drug addiction? On the other hand, are there more drug addicts in countries where drugs are allowed? I doubt. These bans have more to do with power than with concern about the well-being of society.

  6. “Banning abortions, for example, won’t stop people from having them. But it would make them even more dangerous and damaging than they already are.”
    I don’t want to believe this argument i mean why even teach our children to be good if they are probably going to be bad or there is a high probability of the latter?I feel there is a correlation you are making here that doesn’t actually exist, banning something doesn’t meet you stop it it just means you stop the public toleration of it which is by the way very important in case you didn’t think so.If abortions become more unhygienic or whatever it is that isn’t the fault of the legislature is it? And we must hold people responsible for their choices if i choose to have an unsafe abortion that is not the fault of regulators is it now?
    Immoral things must be denounced maybe they won’t stop them which i don’t i actually think was the objective but the government is the moral compass of society, even the religions in a sovereign nation don’t hold a candle to them in terms of influence so how can the government give up and legalize these social evils and not influence its people correctly?
    To me legalizing social evils and making them bolder just to have ‘safer abortions’ which by the way doesn’t make the baby any less dead is absurd and soon enough these bold evils will yield more evils and it will be hard to tell truth from falsehood.The consequences are devastating to say the very least and when making laws its not a short term fix thing, if you look for longevity in law-making you really should t as a matter of necessity agree with me.
    But that’s just my opinion.

    • Sorry for the late reply. Too many thoughts.

      I don’t want to believe this argument I mean why even teach our children to be good if they are probably going to be bad or there is a high probability of the latter?

      Teaching children to be good and forcing them to be good are different things. Does forcing children to be good really makes them good?

      banning something doesn’t meet you stop it just means you stop the public toleration of it which is by the way very important in case you didn’t think so.

      In case of smoking, for example, this is true. Ban on smoking does not have other effects than smokers smoking less and non-smokers breathing less second-hand smoke. Banning abortions, however, is, effectively, forcing people to have unwanted children or having an unsafe abortion. The effect of such ban on society is far greater than a ban on smoking or drugs. Refusing to ban abortions is not the same as encouraging or approving them. Society can discourage and disapprove something without banning it.

      If abortions become more unhygienic or whatever it is that isn’t the fault of the legislature is it?

      Actually, it would be a direct consequence of the legislature banning abortion. If abortion cannot be done safely and legally, it will be done illegally and unsafely. Don’t you remember the Prohibition? One of its effects was the rise of organized crime. Would there be as many drug-related crimes if drugs could be sold and consumed legally? Alcoholism, drug addiction, abortions are the symptoms of deeper economic and social problems, not the root causes. Address the root cause — poverty, lack of education, etc. rather than hypocritically “ban” the symptom with a righteous face of “intolerance to immorality”.

      None of this, by the way, applies to homosexuality because homosexuality is not a “social ill”.

      And we must hold people responsible for their choices if i choose to have an unsafe abortion that is not the fault of regulators is it now?

      Women considering abortions are facing too many tough choices to add the possibility of going to jail. I’m sure, women don’t do abortions for fun. Would this pressure improve the woman’s health and well-being or improve the life of a child who is likely to be abandoned or neglected? I doubt.

      To me legalizing social evils and making them bolder just to have ‘safer abortions’ which by the way doesn’t make the baby any less dead is absurd and soon enough these bold evils will yield more evils and it will be hard to tell truth from falsehood.

      Abortion is not a social evil itself. It’s a symptom of deeper problems, as I said. Banning symptoms does not address the causes. Legalizing something does not mean endorsing or approval. Safe abortion wouldn’t make the baby any “less dead”, but it may reduce the suffering of everyone else involved.

      And, again, gay marriages don’t make anyone dead or cause anyone to suffer, as far as I know.

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