This is Part 6, the final part of my essay. References can be found at the end of Part 1.
On Saturday morning, I will publish a post inviting thoughtful, civil comments from individuals who have read the entire essay.
For the reader’s convenience, here are the links to each of the six parts. (On August 20, 2013, I have inserted the main headings that appear in each part.)
– Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Sex
– The Role of Volition in Sexual Orientation
– Judging Homosexuality—If the Law Will Allow It
– Etiology of Sexual Orientation: The Mainstream Theories
– LGBT Ideology: Evasion Propped Up by New-Left Subjectivism
– Marriage as Heterosexual
Marriage as Heterosexual
(This section is a revised version of a blog post, along with follow-up comments, by me: Pisaturo 2013.)
Marriage is a legally sanctioned, publicly declared, exclusive and—by intention—permanent romantic relationship between a man and a woman, such relationship establishing each of the individuals as the other’s next of kin, establishing rights and mutual responsibilities regarding joint property, and establishing rights and responsibilities regarding custody and care of the couple’s children.
I do not think that procreation is the fundamental purpose of a romantic relationship or of marriage. Nevertheless, having and raising children is a worthy and noble derivative purpose for a romantic, married couple under appropriate circumstances. It is one more example of the integration of the human organism that procreation follows from the intimate bonding of coitus, which in turn is the deepest physical expression of romantic love.
Marriage recognizes that an exclusive and permanent romantic relationship is objective evidence for a constellation of effects including these:
– that the relationship is worthy of taking legal precedence over each individual’s original family bonds;
– that a child born to the mother is reasonably presumed to have been fathered by her husband, and that the couple is reasonably presumed committed to raising such a child.
These effects are important aspects of the concept of marriage even if a particular married couple does not take advantage of one or another of these effects; similarly, the right to vote is an important aspect of citizenship even if particular citizens do not avail themselves of this right.
Many kinds of sexual relationship other than marriage are possible. It should go without saying that consenting adults have the right to perform any sex act or engage with each other in any way possible to them. Why, then, is government involved in marriage more than other kinds of sexual relationships?
Some advocates of limited government think that government should get out of the marriage business, that marriage is a matter for private contract. But government is implicitly involved in all contracts. Implicit in any contract is that the government will enforce the contract if called on to do so. A marriage ceremony enables the government officially to validate the documents of the marriage contract, which are accompanied by public oaths by the contracting parties, thereby diminishing the possibility that meddlers might challenge the documents in the future.
As Mazlish (2013) explains,
Mere contractual documents … can later be challenged. Because they are simply private pieces of paper that can be forged, by their nature they cannot have the same legal presumptions as those that attach to a government officiated marriage.
Without the conclusive presumptions that attach upon a marriage ceremony, persons who rely on mere written contract documents such as powers of attorney, health care directives and wills have not extinguished or cut off the rights of disgruntled family members to challenge the authenticity of those documents.
In many states, homosexuals do not currently have such a means, currently afforded by marriage, to initiate a legal proceeding for designating next of kin. Every citizen, regardless of his sexual orientation, should have such a means available to him. Such a proceeding is a legitimate service that government should provide. But homosexuals are not the only ones who currently do not have such a legal means available. As a heterosexual bachelor, I too should have the right to a legal ceremony whereby I can select my best friend, a married heterosexual man, as my next of kin, without my having to have sex with him. Furthermore, my selecting my best friend as my next of kin should not mean that I have ‘married’ him.
The Basic Question is Epistemological
The basic question regarding the concept of marriage, therefore, is not political but epistemological: Should the concept ‘marriage’ subsume all legally sanctioned relationships entailing the sharing of property and assigning of next of kin? For instance, if two men mutually pledge to be each other’s life partner, should that relationship be called a marriage, or a civil union, or some other word?
In my judgment, such a civil union absolutely should not be called a marriage.
Ayn Rand ( 1990, 36) writes,
[T]he concept “marriage” denotes a certain moral-legal relationship between a man and a woman, which entails a certain pattern of behavior, based on a mutual agreement and sanctioned by law.
I support this traditional concept of marriage, not because it is traditional, but because the concept serves an essential cognitive need.
According to the theory of heterosexual romantic love that I have presented—see especially Part 2 of this essay—the roles of the man and the woman in a heterosexual romantic relationship differ profoundly; these differences of course carry through to the relationship of marriage. Let me recapitulate just some of these differences. Apart from the differences in organs and physical appearance, the man knows that he is the physically stronger partner, that it is his particular responsibility—and joy—to provide physical safety for his wife, to take the lead in actions dealing with survival, to take the lead romantically, and to be in charge sexually—just to name a few characteristics.
(3/4/2015: This passage, from a later blog post, is relevant:
But in the current context, the specifics of why heterosexuals are sexually interested in members of the opposite sex and not the same sex are not the crux of the matter. The crux is that to a rational human being, the sex and sexual orientation of one’s spouse is important.)
These characteristics imply that—because of the natural differences between men and women—the role of the man in a marriage must differ significantly from the role of the woman. A married man, or a man who desires marriage, needs to know that being married means being a man to a woman, not merely being a partner to a partner. The concept of ‘marriage’ helps him to hold that knowledge in condensed form. That is why gender cannot be an omitted measurement in a heterosexual’s concept of marriage. (This last sentence refers to the key idea of ‘measurement omission’ in Ayn Rand’s theory of concepts. See Rand ([1966–1967] 1990, 11–18.)
The fundamental purpose of incorporating the concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the concept of ‘marriage’ is not to distinguish heterosexual relationships from homosexual ones; the fundamental purpose is to enable heterosexuals—and anyone who wants to understand them—to retain, in condensed form, the fact that there are essential differences between heterosexual men and heterosexual women. That is why the concept of marriage refers to man and woman without any consideration of homosexuals. If there were no homosexuals, heterosexuals would still need the concept of marriage as identifying a man and a woman as the two parties involved.
If homosexual unions were to be called ‘marriage’, then there would no longer be a word for the current concept of ‘marriage’; that is, the current concept of marriage would cease to exist. But marriage is too exalted an idea not to be a concept. A married man should not have to think or say, “I am married … to a woman.” It should be enough for him to think, “I am married” to summon his understanding of a man’s relation to the woman he shares his life with. Similarly, a single heterosexual man should not have to think, “I desire to be married … to a woman.”
Calling homosexual unions ‘marriage’ is as absurd as calling all spouses ‘wives’.
The concepts ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ provide a good analogy to the need for the gender-specific concept of marriage. These concepts are even more abstract than ‘marriage’, as they are derived from ‘marriage’. Yet these concepts still reference gender. Why do we need these concepts when we have the concept ‘spouse’? Doesn’t ‘female spouse’ convey the meaning of ‘wife’?
Well, who wants to say, “I love my female spouse” instead of “I love my wife”? The former statement is not condensed enough to be held it in our mind in the way we need. Yes, ‘female spouse’ contains all the characteristics that are contained by ‘wife’. But ‘female spouse’ is a phrase, not a concept; the phrase is not condensed enough to serve the cognitive need that a concept fills. Similarly, the phrase ‘heterosexual marriage’, with marriage referring to any kind of civil union, would not be condensed enough for holding the current meaning of ‘marriage’.
The very existence of the concepts ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, let alone the prevalence in usage of these concepts over the concept ‘spouse’, is strong evidence for my conclusion that we need to retain the concept ‘marriage’ as it is. Similarly, we use the concepts ‘mother’ and ‘father’ even more than ‘parent’, and the concepts ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ even more than ‘sibling’. In certain important concepts, gender matters.
Even among advocates for homosexuality, the overwhelmingly predominant view is to insist on separate words for male homosexual (‘gay’) and female homosexual (‘lesbian’); hence the ‘L’ and ‘G’ in ‘LGBT’. Moreover, leading pro-homosexual researchers often insist that statistical data on one homosexual gender (such as high percentages of promiscuous male homosexuals) differ from data on the other gender. (See, for example, Peplau 2003.) Even to advocates for homosexuality, gender matters in concepts.
For those who want to change the meaning of a concept in the free marketplace of ideas, they are free to try to change one mind at a time through persuasion; and the burden of proof is on them. In my judgment as explained above, this burden regarding ‘marriage’ cannot be met. Instead, advocates of same-sex unions should coin a word or phrase distinct from ‘marriage’. (Or they should coin one word for male couples and another word for female couples, as they always insist on distinguishing between ‘gays’ and ‘lesbians’.) A word might also be coined to subsume both ‘marriage’ and ‘same-sex union’ (or some single word for ‘same-sex union’), as ‘spouse’ subsumes ‘husband’ and ’wife’, and as ‘parent’ subsumes ‘mother’ and ‘father’. But we must not lose the current concept ‘marriage’, as we must not lose the concepts ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ or ‘mother’ and ‘father’.
What is doubly wrong is for government—the agency of force—to change the meaning of a fundamental, rational concept by legal decree.
The notion of ‘homosexual marriage’, or ‘same-sex marriage’, is at best an offensive metaphor corrupting the exalted gender-specific aspects of an exalted concept. More often, however, this notion is also an attempt to seek the unearned.
Marriage is, in principle and despite all the awful marriages that we all know exist, a profoundly good relationship: for the husband and wife, and for children that the husband and wife raise or otherwise interact with. The notion of ‘same-sex marriage’ implies the premise that a homosexual union is as good as marriage for all involved. To say the least, the present essay challenges this premise; but more politically significant than my challenge is this point: It is not the business of government to end the debate over this premise by fiat, by declaring new meanings for a fundamental, rational concept in a free society.
The attempt by LGBT activists to end this debate, by changing the meaning of an essential concept, is another attempt to prevent individuals from judging them. The LGBT activists are seeking an unearned legitimacy by riding on the established reputation of marriage. Though LGBT activists deride their opponents for being constrained by tradition, it is the LGBT activists who want to cash in on the tradition of others. If the LGBT activists get their way, one thing they will surely push for is further legislation to forbid private adoption agencies from discriminating between heterosexual and same-sex couples. (After all, they are all ‘married’.) They will also push for more indoctrination in government schools, claiming that all ‘marriages’ are equal. Ultimately, they will push for the eradication of all gender-specific words, including ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘masculine’, and ‘feminine’. By eradicating crucial, gender-specific words, the LGBT activists seek to eradicate the ability of individuals to hold gender-specific concepts and have gender-specific thoughts.
In summary, words represent concepts. Some words are worth fighting for. ‘Marriage’, denoting a crucial kind of relationship between a man and a woman, is such a word.
In this conclusion, I re-emphasize important points from the essay, and I expand on thematic points from my introduction.
The False Alternative Between Illness and Affirmation
In Part 3, I identified the false alternative between illness and affirmation.
Defenders of homosexuality often argue that they need identify only one ‘healthy’ homosexual to win their argument that homosexuality is just as good as heterosexuality. This argument fails on two counts.
First, in my study of the literature, researchers have not reasonably established the health of even one individual homosexual regarding his sexual orientation. In the widely-cited, supposedly definitive article—Gonsiorek 1991—allegedly proving that homosexuality is not an illness, there is not one reported instance of an actual professional actually examining the thinking of a person being ‘tested’. There is not one instance of a human subject communicating his thinking or line of reasoning in his own words. There are only check marks on multiple-choice questionnaires and forms, and a few interpretations of ink blots.
But the second count of failure of this argument is far more important. The fundamental issue is not whether homosexuality is an illness. A far more fundamental issue is whether all sexual orientations are equally beneficial to human life. Recall the statement by the American Psychiatric Association (1973, 2–3) pursuant to its decision to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):
If homosexuality per se does not meet the criteria for a psychiatric disorder, what is it? Descriptively, it is one form of sexual behavior. Our profession need not now agree on its origin, significance, and value for human happiness when we acknowledge that by itself it does not meet the requirements for a psychiatric disorder. Similarly, by no longer listing it as a psychiatric disorder we are not saying that it is “normal” or as valuable as heterosexuality.
No doubt, homosexual activist groups will claim that psychiatry has at last recognized that homosexuality is as “normal” as heterosexuality. They will be wrong.
The LGBT activists are not merely wrong. They are evading, and they have been evading since before this decision forty years ago. It is an evasion to ‘affirm’ one’s sexual behavior merely on the grounds that one is not sick, as if to say, “I am not sick; therefore, anything I do is okay.” ‘Sick’ vs. ‘not sick’ is not the right axis of measurement.
The Role of Volition
In my judgment after considering the mainstream theories of etiology, and as I argued in Parts 3 and 4, a person’s sexual orientation is caused ultimately by his ideas. Ideas are not assessed appropriately by terms such as ‘illness’. Ideas are true or false, right or wrong. The value of a particular individual’s sexual orientation depends on the truth or falsehood of the ideas that underlie it. In particular, the value of my sexual orientation—heterosexuality, as I understand heterosexuality—depends on the truth or falsehood of the ideas I presented for it in Part 2.
All ideas are formed through a volitional process. However, as I explained in Part 3,
the choices that set an individual’s sexual orientation can be made when the individual is very young. Tragically, a child may have little way of knowing that seemingly small choices—for instance, to avoid a particular female or a particular conflict with a male—can be important, that such choices when added together can shape his entire view of the world and his place in it. An individual should not be condemned, and perhaps not even criticized, for such early choices.
Generally, an individual does not directly choose his sexual orientation, but—as with other aspects of his sense of life—he makes other choices that ultimately lead to his sexual orientation. It is often inappropriate to characterize such early choices as moral or immoral, but such early choices either are right or wrong, correct or mistaken, beneficial to life or harmful to it.
Sexual Nihilism of the LGBT Movement
In Part 4, I examined the mainstream theories of the etiology of sexual orientation and found only theories of determinism and subjectivism masquerading as science. This masquerade consists of studying and measuring all kinds of things except what needs to be studied: the reasoning mind of man. The shared premise of all these theories is the notion that sexual orientation is mindless because sex is mindless. The result of all these theories is a foul wasteland of sexual nihilism.
In Part 5, I showed that the nihilism of the LGBT movement extends beyond the subject of sex and encompasses all Western values, including reason, productiveness, independence, and capitalism.
But not all non-heterosexuals are part of the LGBT movement. Many non-heterosexuals are far better than the LGBT activists. Many non-heterosexuals are ethical, share basic values with their partner, are loving and monogamous, and are not out to destroy Western civilization. But many good non-heterosexuals, as well as good heterosexuals, have been hoodwinked by the LGBT activists who claim that facts and science are on the side of the LGBT activists regarding the subject of sexual orientation. Parts 4 and 5, along with some of Part 3, debunk that claim.
Good, decent non-heterosexuals—more than anyone—need to distance themselves from and disavow the nihilist ideas of the LGBT movement.
The Need for Theory
Some civilized and reasonable defenders of non-heterosexuality argue that they have homosexual friends who are exemplars of reason, morality, and love that is based on rational values. But friends—even closest friends—are rarely if ever in a position to attest to the quality of one another’s sex life.
If a couple is ethical, shares basic values, and is loving and monogamous, these factors will be all to the good and will yield great benefits. But these factors do not imply that the couple’s sexual orientation is to the good as well. Good people who are right about many things, even fundamental things, can yet be mistaken about other important things. Being right in some respects does not imply being right in all respects. To argue that a couple’s sexual orientation is good based on the premise that the individuals are good people is to make an appeal to authority.
Sexual orientation is not an immaterial issue such as race. Race is a passive attribute. An individual’s race, in comparison to other races, does not imply any meaningfully different actions by that individual. However, an individual’s sexual orientation implies highly different actions from those based on other sexual orientations. Unless an individual is bisexual, his sexual orientation implies that he acts to discriminate and exclude an entire gender in favor of the other gender in regard to a crucial matter, the matter of sexual relations. Such crucial actions call for rational explanation. What is needed is not a claim that good people are of a certain sexual orientation. What is needed is a theory of sexual orientation.
In Part 2, I presented my theory of heterosexuality. I argued that heterosexuality in particular enables romantic love in a way that integrates with all aspects of a man and woman. I argued that in a heterosexual romantic relationship, the man and the woman each leverage their biological advantages—the man’s physical power and the woman’s physical beauty—in such a way as to celebrate their efficacy in a benevolent universe. My theory is based on my introspection, personal observations of myself and others, and contemplation of heroes and heroines in Romantic fiction. I deliberately omitted any advanced science to support my theory. The evidence for my theory should be available to anyone—even a child—who has lived in Western civilization and had an opportunity to observe adult men and women.
If any LGBT activists read my theory, they will probably attack it—and offer no objective theory in response. The LGBT movement thrives on sophistry, attacking all theories and defending only skepticism and abject subjectivism; the LGBT activists conclude that anything goes because, after all, they are not sick. The movement thrives in particular on the erection and destruction of intrinsicist straw-man arguments such as arguments based on religion and tradition.
Attacking the sexual orientation of religious zealots, or attacking my sexual orientation, does not bring anyone closer to understanding his own.
Understand Your Sexual Orientation
Now we arrive again at the main theme of this essay. Whatever one thinks about the relative merits of various sexual orientations, it is better to understand the ideas underlying one’s sexual orientation than not to understand them.
As a heterosexual, I am most interested in understanding more about heterosexuality.
Of all the hoodwinking perpetrated by the LGBT movement, the worst has been to hoodwink decent people into believing that there are no important ideas underlying their sexual orientation. But there are.
I return to the good-will challenge—to those of any sexual orientation—that I offered in Part 1: I can explain my sexual orientation; can you explain yours?
I am not suggesting that anyone perform psychoanalysis on himself. Even if you do not think that you can uncover the ideas that initially led you to your sexual orientation, and even if you think that your sexual orientation will not change, then I ask, “What conscious ideas do you now hold that are consistent with the fact that you are sexually attracted to this one gender and not the other (or, if you are bisexual, to both genders)?” If you truly believe that your current sexual orientation is good for you, then you should believe that knowing the answer to this question will do you great further good.
I close with a repetition of this quotation of Ayn Rand ( 1975, 33):
Love is the expression of philosophy—of a subconscious philosophical sum—and, perhaps, no other aspect of human existence needs the conscious power of philosophy quite so desperately. When that power is called upon to verify and support an emotional appraisal, when love is a conscious integration of reason and emotion, of mind and values, then—and only then—it is the greatest reward of man’s life.