Flat White

Same-sex marriage and the war on biology

11 October 2017

7:29 AM

11 October 2017

7:29 AM

Maybe there are folks out there in plebiscite land who believe that there are no robust intellectual arguments against same-sex marriage or, if there are such, then they have yet to hear them.  

Well, I’d like to help.

As an opener, let’s revisit an argument that I first deployed some years back.  (Curiously, I was in Ukraine at the time observing the oddities of Australian politics from that far distant and bracingly different perspective. Anyway, to the argument.) 

The alleged “principle” behind the tautological slogan “Love is love” is that same-sex marriage is a basic human right. 

Let’s examine that.  

How can one have a right to overturn the irreducible facts of human biology? 

Marriage is not a mere “cultural artefact” reconfigurable at will into new shapes and meanings.  The “culture” of marriage is founded on an elemental “given” of human biology. 

Marriage is for “unsame” sexes only.  This is because men and women can be joined, in a complementary bodily union, only to their gender opposites, and by an embrace whose primary biological purpose is to give birth to new human beings. 

The sexual union of a man and a woman, by its very nature, is directed inescapably toward the begetting of children; and this remains so even if this reality is obscured by the natural waning of the biological cycles, by chronic infertility, by the intentions of the sexual partners and, especially today, by the widespread use of contraceptives. 


There is no liberating oneself from the way the human body is made.  There is no way around the fact that male and female bodies are designed to join with each other and that the biological reason for this union is reproduction.  The fact that the reproductive act is accompanied by a mysterious personal union of the sexual partners which can transcend their individuality – and that his union is much sought after for itself – does not reduce or remove the reproductive biological underpinnings of sexual concourse between a man and a woman. 

Since sexual acts between members of the same sex can never have – or achieve – this foundational propagatory character, the sexual encounters between such people cannot take on the character of a marital act.  In fine, marriage between same-sex partners is like a square circle.  It’s an impossibility.  No one has a right to that.

Sacrificed, meanwhile, on the quest for the impossible are the pre-existing rights of children: namely, the right of children to be intimately connected with, and nurtured by, the fathers and mothers whose conjugal acts brought them to life. 

The acquisition of new rights by a rising class of claimants very often involves the obliteration of some already established rights.  And this is so in this instance.  The SSMists are attacking the right of children to form their identities within the context of a family constituted by a man and a woman and their biological progeny. 

That some families are dysfunctional, that some children lose their parents through death, that others become disconnected from them through family breakdown, are fostered out, or given up for adoption, does not diminish the principle that the proper place for a child to be is within a family formed around its genetic parents. An imperfect world does not nullify rights and duties – and, more importantly, it does not turn them into their opposites. 

When they undertake to redefine marriage to accommodate same-sex partnerships, politicians and the social activists to whom they are responding, are actually making war on biology.  The unalterable verities of life will not change.  But a great deal of damage will be done in the attempt to force them.  

The word “revolutionary” springs to mind when contemplating the SSM project. What does it mean to be a “revolutionary”?

A “revolutionary” is someone who attempts to overturn an established order.

Some established orders are political, social or cultural and it is possible to overthrow them. What one can do with an establishment and what one should do about it are, of course, two entirely separate matters. Just because one can bring down an establishment doesn’t mean that one should.

Some of these establishments, however, are unjust and a case can be made for reforming them or even getting rid of them “root and branch”.

Biology, however, is a reality higher than any such orders.  It does not pass away. It is not a human construction. It simply is. It makes no sense to call it unjust. To attempt to change what cannot be changed – to claim that there is some injustice in biology – is not only archetypically revolutionary, it is also a species of hubris bordering on madness.

Consider this. What kind of a polity — what kind of a society — would it be that sought to redefine itself as one at war with reality?

I venture this thought: such a society would have no legitimacy and could only be upheld, ultimately, by totalitarian means.

Only revolutionaries could contemplate such a possibility. 

Gary Scarrabelotti blogs at Scarra Blog, where this piece also appears.

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