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The Princess Bride Syndrome

Like many Americans, I have changed my mind on gay marriage—though my change of mind has gone the opposite way of most. My support for gay marriage was early and enthusiastic. In high school I wrote a research paper titled “Gay Marriage as a Constitutional and Human Right.” I was earnest and impassioned, motivated by a desire to see justice done and unsure of how or why anyone could disagree. Continue Reading »

Is It Legal—or, Who’s the Victim?

One of the more intractable aspects of sexual politics today for traditionalists is the emergence of the courtroom as the arena for settling every debate. Even when they have a democratic majority, not to mention centuries of sexual-marital mores, on their side, the contrary will of one-to-five politically-appointed individuals can prevail. Of course, judicial activism is an old problem, undemocratic and arbitrary, placing monumental decisions in too few hands. But there is another problem, an indirect one that follows precisely from critics taking seriously the courtroom’s power. We could call this problem the “legalization” of debate, meaning not whether something is legal, but instead the conversion of moral, social, religious, and other dimensions of an issue into legal, or legalistic, terms, or at least the neglect of them because of a focus on what the judges will say.

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Why Gay Rights Are Not The New Civil Rights

Supporters of same-sex marriage love to make analogies to the African American Civil Rights Movement. Analogies are rhetorical devices that require careful scrutiny. While I do not find the attempt to connect bans on gay marriage to miscegenation laws persuasive, nevertheless there is nothing inherently wrong in trying to find parallels between these two social movements. In that spirit, let me offer my own reflections on what we can learn by comparing them. Continue Reading »

N. T. Wright on Gay Marriage

N. T. Wright—hailed by Time as “one of the most formidable figures in Christian thought”—first captured my imagination with the early volumes of his series  Christian Origins and the Question of God. In them, he frames the Christian story precisely as a story, a . . . . Continue Reading »

Piling Cliché Upon Cliché

In the past two days, federal courts have redefined marriage in two states: Oregon and Pennsylvania. No one should be surprised by this; though the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. U.S., which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, could be shrewdly navigated so as to permit state definitions of marriage to survive scrutiny, it was unlikely that any federal judge would bring attention to himself by defying the accumulating mass of pro-same-sex marriage rulings. Continue Reading »

So You Believe in “Marriage Equality”? Why Not For throuples?

The story of a female throuple in Massachusetts (with a baby on the way) provides further confirmation, as if any were needed, of the proposition that “ideas have consequences.” Once one has abandoned belief in marriage as a conjugal bond (with its central structuring norm of sexual complementarity) in favor of a concept of “marriage” as a form of sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership (“love makes a family”), then what possible principle could be identified for a norm “restricting” marriage to two-person partnerships, as opposed to polyamorous sexual ensembles of three or more persons? Continue Reading »

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