Two fallacies in the same sex marriage debate
For some reason, visitor Bill Garnett and the NOVA TownHall constable on patrol, Jack, have been debating in the comments section of a month-old post here. Reading their exchange evoked a couple of thoughts I'm going to jot down here, both to invite further discussion and get Bill and Jack back on the front page, in the interests of social order.
To get the context, please read the last 5 or so comments in that post.
Bill seems to mean well but he has fallen for the fallacious argument that the burden of proof is on people who don't think the definition of marriage should be changed. It's very clever, but it's not true.
Same sex marriage did not exist anywhere in the world until about 10 years ago, and during that time the evidence of it's effect on society is incredibly sparse. There's hardly sufficient data to analyze the impact in Europe, and there's pretty much zero data in the U.S.
Proponents of same sex marriage actually have quite a mountain to climb in order to make the case it will not have a negative impact on society because they don't have any evidence to support their claim. They're saying, let's change the institution that's been around for a really long time, in order to try something that's never been done before. Not an easy sell if you look at it rationally.
I'm not saying it can't be done, and I personally don't have a dog in this fight because my dogs are all busy elsewhere. But it's a tough sell.
So instead they have managed to reframe the debate as one in which people who don't want marriage redefined are obstructing social progress, and must now justify themselves. Very smart, but totally illogical.
Another fallacy that needs to be exposed is the idea that arguments against same sex marriage based on religious belief are irrelevant. In the exchange linked to above, Bill's argument in favor of SSM is based on religious belief precisely to the same extent as Jack's argument against it.
In fact the "relativity of belief" rule holds for everyone with a position on same sex marriage - even the atheists. Do we say that because atheists deny the existence of God their views on all topics related to government and society are beyond critique? Of course not. A person can be wrong or right, especially about moral questions, whether they believe in God or many gods or no god at all.
It's most useful to drop the term "religious" altogether. If person A says, I oppose SSM because it is a sin, and person B says, I am in favor because I believe it is not a sin, or there is no such thing as sin, both people are making statements based on their respective personal beliefs, and both have equal standing in the debate.
The argument is made, and I generally agree, that it is not our government's job to suppress "sin" or enforce morality - despite the fact that the vast majority of laws do exactly that. Maybe it's more accurate to say it is not ALWAYS our government's job. For Christians, in whom the law is supposedly "written in your hearts," there probably ought to be a bias against making government the sin police except in order to preserve life, liberty and social order (the latter two being areas that can be invoked both for or against the state's sanctioning of same sex marriage). If Christians want to see less sin around them, they should probably do a better job evangelizing and getting that law written in more hearts.
More on this topic later.
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