The Orthodox community should voice its strong opposition to the new proposals by the mayor of York City and the governor of New York State to legally redefine marriage.
This is not about discrimination. It is about the founding principles of our nation, it is about societal and state interest, and it is about respecting and not undermining the beliefs and institutions of others who may be different from us.
There are four reasons why this legislation should be opposed.
First, the Founders of this great nation embraced the idea of building a moral and virtuous society in a manner that would enable all peoples to fulfill both their inalienable rights as well as their inalienable duties.
These inalienable rights and duties are part of what can be called Natural Law. From Moses to Cicero, to Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, Natural Law has always defined the distinction between that which is just and that which is unjust, between right and wrong.
The idea of “Justice at Nuremberg” was characterized by Natural Law, since according to Nazi German law the murder of Jews, gypsies, and certain other groups was entirely legal. No society or government should be able to legislate laws or rules that undermine these Natural Laws. Just as a government is proscribed from legalizing murder and theft, so too may it not undermine other Natural Laws.
Marriage has been defined by the very fabric of history, by universal cultural norms, and by Natural Law as being between man and woman. Marriage combines in a union of life, love, and fidelity two people capable of fathering and mothering offspring. It is more than mere kinship or friendship, it is a social and legal bond designed by Natural Law to procreate and continue the existence of mankind.
May a couple opt not to have children? Yes. But undermining an institution that has been designed by history and Natural Law to vouchsafe the future of mankind can be compared to unleashing chemical and nuclear hazards with the potential to undermine mankind’s future. Same-gender marriages undermine Natural Law.
Second, once we begin to redefine the basic integrity of the family structure in this nation, state, or city, we begin to slide down a slippery slope. Such a move will give rise to a movement to legalize the right to have multiple wives. It will give legitimacy to those who wish to allow marriage to one’s sister, daughter, son, or to two sisters simultaneously. It will even give legitimacy to those who wish to enter the bonds of matrimony with favorite pets and animals.
Third, modern social science and scientific inquiry has demonstrated the need of both a mother and a father to help foster the normal psychosocial development of children. While there are times when this is not possible, government should make every effort to improve the ideal environment in which children should be raised.
Redefining marriage will lead to a disaster similar to that experienced by Romania during its orphan crisis in the late sixties and early seventies. That crisis led to a situation where thousands of children were raised outside the structure of families as envisioned by Natural Law. The results were catastrophic.
There will always be exceptions, but it is clearly in the state’s interest to ensure that future children be given the best chances of success possible. Redefining marriages against the state interest in order to allow some members of society to co-opt a term is just wrong.
It has always been in the interest of the state to make sure its citizens and its institutions remain stable. For example, in our country it is the view of the state that ownership of a home provides for more social stability than does a transient lifestyle. The state believes homeowners care more about what happens in their streets, villages and towns because they have a greater stake in things. The state, therefore, has provided tax deductions for homeowners but not for apartment renters. This is not about discrimination. It is about the state interest.
Fourth, redefining the parameters of marriage amounts to a subtle and insidious attempt to undermine the beliefs and principles of those who uphold the sanctity of Natural Law. It is an insult to Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and practitioners of other religions in this country.