“Forsaking all others” is common language in marriage vows. But perhaps not for some.
No doubt you’ve heard friends -- even Christian friends -- and you hear them say, “Well, why shouldn’t gays be able to marry like anyone else? What will it hurt? It won’t affect marriage, and it will help them build stable families.”
Certainly that’s the line of thinking that won the day in New York, which just legalized so-called gay marriage.
But nothing could be further from the truth, as illustrated by a recent New York Times article entitled “Married, With Infidelities.” The writer, Mark Oppenheimer, asked whether “we make unrealistic demands” on marriage. The “unrealistic demands” he's talking about are monogamy.
For an answer Oppenheimer turned to advice columnist Dan Savage. Savage is a “married” gay man who often “inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity.” Those are Oppenheimer’s words, not mine.
According to Savage, while monogamy has its “advantages,” it’s not for everyone, because, he says, monogamy leads to “boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”
So Savage counsels a more flexible ethic. According to him, the “unrealistic expectations” of fidelity “destroys more families than it saves.”
Savage practices what he preaches: He admits to nine “extramarital encounters,” which he insists have been a “stabilizing force” in his so-called “marriage.”
Oppenheimer clearly likes Savage and writes that “it is tough to credit anyone who thinks Savage is a subversive figure.” Really? Because from where I sit he sure looks subversive.
For starters, all this talk about “unrealistic” demands and expectations overlooks a basic fact: The vast majority of married people avoid infidelity. The article cited a 2010 University of Chicago study that found that 14 percent of wives and 20 percent of husbands admitted to extramarital affairs.
Stated differently, 86 percent of married women and 80 percent of married men have kept their vows. That suggests that the problem may lie with the 14 and 20 percent, not our expectations.
There is one group, as the article acknowledges, where monogamy is neither expected nor practiced: “the sizable group of gay men in open, or [semi-open], long-term partnerships.”
Oppenheimer is aware of the implications for the cause of same-sex marriage. Incredibly, he writes, “it is unclear if gay habits,” that is, promiscuity, “will survive the advent of gay equality.”
There’s nothing “unclear” about this at all. The evidence Oppenheimer cites and Savage’s own counsel make it very clear that marriage is unlikely to change the habits of gay men. But, as Oppenheimer notes: Savage believes that heterosexual couples will learn from gay couples’ example. So "gay marriage" will inevitably undermine all marriages. That is very bad news for our culture.
No wonder Oppenheimer admits that Savage’s views and actions, will give “ammunition to all the forces . . . who say we had better stop [gay marriage] before they ruin what is left of marriage.”So the next time you hear friends question what harm gay marriage will do, why not talk about the Times article—and ask them whether they think fidelity, “forsaking all others,” is an essential part of marriage, stable families, and a healthy society.
Married, With Infidelities
Mark Oppenheimer | The New York Times | June 30, 2011
Infidelity Is Natural?
John Stonestreet | The Point | July 12, 2011