Ryan T. Anderson explains how gay marriage undermines natural marriage norms

From the Heritage Foundation. (H/T Tom)


Weakening marital norms and severing the connection of marriage with responsible procreation are the admitted goals of many prominent advocates of redefining marriage. E. J. Graff celebrates the fact that redefining marriage would change the “institution’s message” so that it would “ever after stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers.” Enacting same-sex marriage, she argues, “does more than just fit; it announces that marriage has changed shape.”[3]

Andrew Sullivan says that marriage has become “primarily a way in which two adults affirm their emotional commitment to one another.”[4]

The Norm of Monogamy. New York University Professor Judith Stacey has expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek…small group marriages.”[5] In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates call for legal recognition of sexual relationships involving more than two partners.[6]

University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake thinks that justice requires using legal recognition to “denormalize[] heterosexual monogamy as a way of life” and “rectif[y] past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists, and care networks.” She supports “minimal marriage” in which “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties, the type of relationship involved, and which rights and responsibilities to exchange with each.”[7]

In 2009, Newsweek reported that the United States already had over 500,000 polyamorous households.[8] The author concluded:

[P]erhaps the practice is more natural than we think: a response to the challenges of monogamous relationships, whose shortcomings…are clear.… [C]an one person really satisfy every need? Polyamorists think the answer is obvious—and that it’s only a matter of time before the monogamous world sees there’s more than one way to live and love.[9]

A 2012 article in New York Magazine introduced Americans to “throuple,” a new term akin to a “couple,” but with three people whose “throuplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another…and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship. Except that there are three of them.”[10]

The Norm of Exclusivity. Andrew Sullivan, who has extolled the “spirituality” of “anonymous sex,” also thinks that the “openness” of same-sex unions could enhance the bonds of husbands and wives:

[A]mong gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds.… [T]here is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.… [S]omething of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.[11]

“Openness” and “flexibility” are Sullivan’s euphemisms for sexual infidelity. Similarly, in a New York Times Magazine profile, gay activist Dan Savage encourages spouses to adopt “a more flexible attitude” about allowing each other to seek sex outside their marriage.[12] The New York Times recently reported on a study finding that exclusivity was not the norm among gay partners: “‘With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,’ said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, ‘but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.’”[13]

Leading Advocates of Redefining Marriage Celebrate That It Will Weaken Marriage

Some advocates of redefining marriage embrace the goal of weakening the institution of marriage in these very terms. “[Former President George W.] Bush is correct,” says Victoria Brownworth, “when he states that allowing same-sex couples to marry will weaken the institution of marriage…. It most certainly will do so, and that will make marriage a far better concept than it previously has been.”[14]Professor Ellen Willis celebrates the fact that “conferring the legitimacy of marriage on homosexual relations will introduce an implicit revolt against the institution into its very heart.”[15]

Michelangelo Signorile urges same-sex couples to “demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution.”[16]Same-sex couples should, he says, “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, because the most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake…is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely.”[17]

It is no surprise that there is already evidence of this occurring. A federal judge in Utah allowed a legal challenge to anti-bigamy laws.[18] A bill that would allow a child to have three legal parents passed both houses of the California state legislature in 2012 before it was vetoed by the governor, who claimed he wanted “to take more time to consider all of the implications of this change.”[19]

It’s very important to understand that the typical gay relationship between males is not going to conform to the lifelong, exclusive commitment that heterosexual marriage involves. You can read about the numbers right here on this paper from the Family Research Council, which collects together evidence from secular sources, such as the U.S. Census and peer-reviewed research.

Take a look:

Research indicates that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime:

·  The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year.[12]

·  Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners.[13]

·  In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in the Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that “the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101-500.” In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1,000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than one thousand lifetime sexual partners.[14]

·  A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than one hundred sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than one thousand sexual partners.[15]

[…]Even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of “committed” or “monogamous” typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage.

·  A Canadian study of homosexual men who had been in committed relationships lasting longer than one year found that only 25 percent of those interviewed reported being monogamous.” According to study author Barry Adam, “Gay culture allows men to explore different…forms of relationships besides the monogamy coveted by heterosexuals.”[16]

·  The Handbook of Family Diversity reported a study in which “many self-described ‘monogamous’ couples reported an average of three to five partners in the past year. Blasband and Peplau (1985) observed a similar pattern.”[17]

·  In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison reported that, in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years:

Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.[18]

Are we ready to call that marriage? Isn’t it bad enough that we already have undermined the permanence and stability of marriage with no-fault divorce laws and giving benefits to common-law couples? Don’t you think that these factors will undermine stability, the same way that infidelity undermines heterosexual relationships?

But marriage is a particular thing. It’s permanent. It’s exclusive. It’s not based on feelings and desires. The purpose of marriage is to recognize and encourage people to constrain and bound their sexual activity for the benefit of society. We want to encourage parents to bond together permanently and exclusively, so that the bond is stable. We should be encouraging people to be chaste before marriage, to make good decisions about who to marry, to reward marriages that last, and to make it harder to get out of a marriage. Especially one with children.

6 thoughts on “Ryan T. Anderson explains how gay marriage undermines natural marriage norms”

  1. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I think we have finally gone past the point of no return in Western Civilization. That the most basic cross-civilizational unit of society is being actively redefined (and this redefining promoted by millions of young indoctrinated students) is testimony that our society is in its last days.

    We played with experiments like this last century, learned our lesson for about five years, and promptly forgot about it. I think this will be worse. It ties together feminism, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the emphasis on emotionalism and advertising in substitute for logic and reason today. So-called Christian leaders like Rob Bell fully support it and twist like an Olympic Gymnast to get around Christianity (and Natural Law), though even a real Olympian god wouldn’t be able to break reality so utterly and yet be so unfazed.

    Dark times ahead. I’m not afraid of them. I think as Christians we need to subvert the culture using the same methods used to subvert it in the first place if we can, and if we can’t, to stand by as the final guardians of sanity in a dying civilization.


    1. Well, I leave the strategic decision making up to God. My job is to do as much good as I can and to tell the truth where I am. In military history, there are many occasions where battles were turned by the efforts of a small group, and I aim to do my part and leave the outcome up to God. I can think of many ways he could turn the tide. The important thing is to pray and to tell the truth, with evidence.


      1. I think this is an awesome take on it, and I am trying to do something similar.

        Prayer and talking with people individually. And more prayer.


        1. The best thing is to constantly praise God for defending himself with people and evidence, and to plead with him to do even more. I do not like that a lot of people disrespect God’s existence and character. I try to do my part to study, write and be persuasive. But I am really relying on God to raise up Christian scholars and to provide us with good evidence. To mentor others along in the faith with gifts and care. I thank God for good science, like the cosmic microwave background radiation, for example. Good history, like the early New Testament manuscript discoveries. Good philosophy, like middle knowledge. I am doing the best I can and then praying for God to be bold and active.


  2. “But marriage is a particular thing. It’s permanent. It’s exclusive. It’s not based on feelings and desires. ”

    Basing marriage on feelings and desires is what has gotten us into this mess. When marriage becomes based on emotions or desires, or “emotional commitment”, it will fail. Spectacularly. And by failing, it will harm children. The idea that emotions are supposed to anchor marriage is one consequence of the idiotic notion of the soul mate / romantic partner myth.

    The contrast is vivid between having a marriage based on changing emotional ties, versus having it based on a vow and commitment.

    “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”



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