WWW Opinion Times

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Why I Reject A redefinition of Marriage Through Civil Unions or Gay Marriage

Some of the email and comments I have had to my posting about the debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment has prompted me to define my position, from a libertarian perspective, on defending the current definition of marriage even to the point of a Constitutional Amendment if necessary. Here is my position.

I consider myself a Christian libertarian. I believe that ultimately marriage is an institution ordained and sanctified by God Himself, and not by government institutions. But my governmental ideology on the subject is such that I believe that governments are instituted among men to provide arbitration against what I call "excessive liberty" defined as the collision of two individuals rights in willful disobedience to the Golden Rule and the Law of Nature. When individual rights meet in a violent manner, government must play a role in adjudicating the dispute. This was the dilemma of Moses for which his father-in-law Jethro helped him make a structured system of judges.

I believe the works of John Locke best explain the origin of governments instituted among men. He believed that the foundation of civil society is found in the voluntary union of Man and Woman through marriage. To quote him in his Second Treatise of Government,
"Conjugal Society [the government of marital relationship] is made by a voluntary Compact between Man and Woman: And tho' it consist chiefly in such a Communion and Right in one anothers Bodies, as is necessary to its chief end, Procreation; yet it draws with it mutual Support, and Assistance, and a Communion of Interest too, as necessary not only to unite their Care, and Affection, but also necessary to their common Off-spring, who have a Right to be nourished and maintained by them, till they are able to provide for themselves." He then goes on to mention that Man and Woman have in their natural state been given certain areas of authority which they hold to themselves in a state of nature until relationships with other humans necessitate some form of justice. They therefore cede some of their "Executive" and "Legislative" authority in the Law of Nature to a Civil Society structure which we call government. "Wherever therefore any number of Men are so united into one Society, as to quit every one of his Executive Powers of the Law of Nature, and to resign to the publick, there and there only is a Political, or Civil Society."

Thus Locke starts by laying rights into individuals in their natural state who consequently adjust their individual liberty into "Conjugal Society" through marriage. Then, as dictated by necessity, man and woman cede some of their authority in the family to Civil Society through representatives appointed by them who make laws and administer justice on their behalf.

Individual rights to traditional marriage responsibilities are ceded to the representative structure of Civil Society. Governments take their origin from the traditional family in Locke's eyes. And I agree with his assessment

That is why I am against a redefinition of marriage and also why my libertarian instincts are not offended by this position. Break down the family and you break down the whole structure and origin of Government.