Justice for All

A fine editorial from retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong in Richmond’s Style Weekly.

One word about this, where he is speaking of the fallacy that marriage has throughout human history been defined as between “one man and one woman:”

There were also times in history when the words one man and one woman did not imply equality because the woman did not enjoy the same rights in that marriage as the man.

Those who are currently so desperate to write this definition into our Bill of Rights, thinking that by doing so they can force the next generation to define marriage the way they do, are driven by precisely this model. In this world view, marriage is, by definition, a very specific relationship between two non-equals. Marriage as a partnership between two equal, fully autonomous human beings already represents a “radical redefinition of marriage.”

The conversation we are actually having when we talk about the definition of marriage is between those who see men and women as autonomous and fully human as individuals, and those who adhere to the Victorian idea that individual men and women are incomplete, and require an opposite sex mate in order to become fully human. This is the core of the so-called “natural law” argument, what some activists are now calling “organic marriage.” According to this argument, our integrity as human beings is defined entirely by the use of our “plumbing.” For an example, see this post and comments.

“Difference” is the crucial factor that both excuses and masks inequality. If two people of the same sex can marry, or even present themselves to the world as if they are married, the excuse for this foundational inequality goes away. What basis is there to decide who the “head of household” is between two equals? There is none – they have to negotiate and make decisions as if they are both whole, fully functioning adults. And that, these activists curiously believe, would mean the downfall of our civilization.

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