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The Court and Marriage

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By:William Murchison | April 27, 2015

Well. I really can't believe I am saying this. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to tell us what marriage means. Not speculate; not explain. Tell: as in, "Wipe that smile off your face and listen to what I'm telling you."

We are at a remarkable moment in human affairs: one we would hardly have predicted 50 years ago at the start of our cultural upheavals. Historic understandings that drew, for the most part, support and sympathy no longer have footing, which is fine with the kind of folk—they are in leadership roles all around us, including judgeships and presidential candidacies—who think we're in the business of inventing a whole new way of life, atoning in the process for ancient sins.

And what would be considered an ancient sin? Preferring one ideal or mode of conduct over another one. Talking a lot about Truth. Those would be some of the more salient sins.

The court, as it merely entertains arguments for declaring same-sex marriage a civil right, gives countenance to the notion that many concepts evolve, change with the times, put on new garments and flap their wings.

Everybody capable of distinguishing an oxcart from a Lamborghini, a conch shell from an iPhone, understands that nothing stays the same, that—as Heraclitus, the dolorous old Greek, put it—you never step twice in the same stream. May we posit that law also changes?

The question underlying the same-sex marriage controversy—which the high court will resolve in its own fashion—is, do certain large realities lie outside the province of courts and lawyers, hard to approach satisfactorily in legal briefs, far less determine fairly and intelligently?

Human society knows not the likes of same-sex marriage. It knows male-female marriage only. We seem here to be in the presence of deep truths about humanity and its nature. If humanity understands marriage in one way only, what grounds does this provide for broadening the legal—and commensurately the cultural—modes of approaching the matter?

Oh, excuse me; it's because various people demand reconsideration of the question, on the grounds that they think, they believe, the ancient estate of matrimony to be ripe for overhaul—the Christian as well as the pre-Christian forms and approaches.

Yes, excuse us. Let us get out of the way; all who doubt the claims of desire that the justices, like the whole nation, have been listening to.

That marriage is, in Christian terms, a sacrament—"instituted of God," in the language of the Book of Common Prayer—cuts no ice with the many today who view marriage less as an institution aligned with divine purposes than a format for human rejoicings. In a fast-secularizing age, it's us first—you see, don't you?

Well, maybe not. What about the historicity of male-female marriage in all cultures, Christian or otherwise? A mere detail. It's a case of what people want. What people want, once the clamor becomes loud enough, as with same-sex marriage, the courts seem bound to supply.

Before this happens, we might want to think through some of the likelier consequences of authorizing judges to decide the deep questions of human existence.

The first consequence is social division and unhappiness. If fully half the American population supports same-sex unions, what about the other half? The court's going to say, OK, everybody, figure out a way of making it work? What a prescription for social turmoil and complications unspeakable!

The second consequence concerns, shall we say, Reality. If the world never before has seen an alternative to male-female marriage, is it barely possible that God, or Nature, or both, have implanted in the infinitely vast majority of humans the right understanding of how humans should live?

Just asking. The journalists, the judges, the opinion-makers doubtless have this thing figured out. They desire the incorporation of same-sex unions in our understanding of family relationships and the multiplication of the human race. They may get what they desire, courtesy of a legal system often less concerned with outcomes than with grand gestures and historic declarations.


William Murchison's latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson. (ISI Books). To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at




Clyde Wilson
Columbia, SC
4/27/2015 08:59 PM

  What more evidence do we need that the Constitution no longer exists.

4/27/2015 09:02 PM

  3 responses: Why be on full alert for the Supremes at this late hour ? “careful consideration should always be given to the danger of power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law……. Who will prevent public authorities from favoring methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility…... “ Annonymous It was the Catholic Church's firm stand against contraception and abortion which finally made me decide to become a Catholic . . . The Church's stand is absolutely correct. It is to its eternal honour that it opposed contraception, even if the opposition failed. I think, historically, people will say it was a very gallant effort to prevent a moral disaster . . .” Malcolm Muggeridge Patriotism is the wholesome, constructive love of one's land and people. Nationalism is the unhealthy love of one's government,( or party!!) accompanied by the aggressive desire to put down others - which becomes in deracinated modern men a substitute for religious faith. Patriotism is an appropriate, indeed necessary, sentiment for people who wish to preserve their freedom; nationalism is not." -- Clyde Wilson, The Yankee Problem in American History

Jim D
Toronto, Ontario , Canada
4/28/2015 05:16 AM

  America's embrace of sodomite marriage is testimony of how far it has fallen into the sewer, that is cultural Marxism. A wise man once told me: "The issue is not the issue, its the revolution" when describing the Left's activist causes. Indeed it is , both the left and their queer stooges don't really care about " marriage equality ". For the record whenever a nation legalized gay "marriage" the numbers of those fraudulent marriages decrease with each passing year. The real reason why they push gay "marriage", is so they can establish a legal bludgeon where they can criminalize all forms of dissent. When you criminalize dissent you can re-engineer society , totalitarianism is will be the future. Take a look at at Canada when they legalized this trash, freedom of speech and religion went out the door.Now its rapidly happening now in America.This is the end result of repealing the sodomy laws. A pox on all those activists judges!

Ray Olson
St. Paul
4/28/2015 02:53 PM

  A rather confused column, Mr. Murchison, and, as Judge Reavis suggests, an act of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. The realization of same-sex marriage as a civil right--only certain churches and other religious bodies have blessed it; courts and states cannot--could have been prevented only if, originally or at some later date, the nation had somehow decided to be ruled by the Roman Catholic Church or, failing that, an Islamic caliphate. But the U.S. has never been a Christian or Muslim, much less a Roman Catholic, nation and has never shown much discontent with that state of affairs.

robert m. peters
coushatta, louisiana
4/28/2015 05:59 PM

  The late A.J. Conyers, whom I believe most of the current Chronicles' writers knew personally, wrote in an article which can be found on line in which he states that when homosexuality become acceptable in a society, that acceptance becomes the "canary in the cage," indicating that the moral air of that society is depleted. I do not know if Mr. Conyers ever contemplated the degeneracy of "gay marriage," but I am sure that he would write today that the canary in the cage is already dead and rotting away.


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