The push for gay marriage is part of the state’s “drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population” writes  British theologian John Milbank:

Heterosexual exchange and reproduction has always been the very “grammar” of social relating as such. The abandonment of this grammar would thus imply a society no longer primarily constituted by extended kinship, but rather by state control and merely monetary exchange and reproduction.

Milbank, the founder of ” radical orthodoxy ,” begins his argument by pointing out the impossibility of defining gay marriage in traditional terms of “consummation” and “adultery.” The impossibility of doing so means that marriage will “inevitably be redefined even for heterosexual people in  homosexual terms .”

Consummation and adultery would cease to be valid categories even for straight unions. Thus would end “the public legal recognition of a social reality defined in terms of the natural link between sex and procreation.” This, says Milbank, “reveals what is really at issue here.”

There was no  demand  for “gay marriage” and this has nothing to do with gay rights. Instead, it is a strategic move in the modern state’s drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters. This is not about natural justice, but the desire on the part of biopolitical tyranny to destroy marriage and the family as the most fundamental mediating social institution.

“The recipe for psychological confusion, family division and social conflict,” Milbank writes, “is all too evident and cannot be averted.”
For the individual, the experience of a natural-cultural unity is most fundamentally felt in the sense that her natural birth is from an interpersonal (and so “cultural”) act of loving encounter – even if this be but a one-night stand. This provides a sense that one’s very biological roots are suffused with an interpersonal narrative. Again, to lose this “grammar” would be to compromise our deepest sense of humanity, and risk a further handing over of power to market and state tyrannies supported by myths both of pure human nature and technocratic artifice . . . .

“We have sleep-walked into the legalisation of practices whose logic and implications have never been seriously debated,” he writes. Milbank’s forceful piece is yet another wake-up call.

Articles by Matthew Schmitz


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