Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Logic That Discredits a 'Gay Marriage' argument

In the news, there have been some cases of the media or activists taking offense when a high ranking official in the Church points out that if homosexual 'marriage' was permitted, there was no reason to deny polygamy and incestuous marriage between consenting partners.  The result is to watch the supporters of so-called 'gay marriage' hit the ceiling as they angrily deny such a claim, while accusing us of saying hateful things.  How dare they say homosexual relationships are the equivalent to incest and polygamy?

Well, they didn't make that comparison.  These were not statements of moral equivalence.  Nor were they examples of the "slippery slope" fallacy (which argues if X happens, then Y and Z must also happen). 

What the cardinal and the bishop did was to employ the logical tool of reductio ad absurdum (reduction to absurdity).  This tool shows that the consequences of taking an argument to its logical end are so absurd or offensive that the argument itself must be rejected as absurd or offensive.  (The reductio can sometimes be confused for the slippery slope, but the two are not the same)

The reductio can be broken down this way.

  1. IF a person accepts the claim that feelings of affection between people, able to give consent, are the only necessary conditions for marriage (and those who insist it is intolerance to claim that marriage between a man and a woman is the only valid form of marriage)
  2. THEN any similar feelings of affection between people able to give consent must also be granted the right to 'marry.'
  3. THUS absurd results like polygamy and incestuous marriage must also be accepted for the same grounds "gay marriage" is accepted (that is, you can't accept one and deny the other without being arbitrary).

"Sorry dear, I'm leaving you and marrying our 18 year old daughter… we love each other and it is bigoted of you to try to restrict who we can marry."

The point is NOT to say "homosexuality = incest."  The point is this argument for so-called "gay marriage" cannot exclude incestuous marriage and polygamy as well.  Since the angry reactions show us that even supporters of "gay marriage" are offended by this comparison – an indication that the consequences of taking the argument to it's logical end are absurd or offensive, it follows this argument to justify "gay marriage" is absurd (or else opponents of incestuous marriage are "incestophobic.")

Far from being a comparison of "gay marriage" and polygamy or incestuous relationships, this reductio ad absurdum points out that this argument put forward to defend "gay marriage" actually also justifies behavior that goes too far even for the supporters.  If the supporter of "gay marriage" wants to accuse us of 'homophobia' because we believe marriage should be between a man and a woman only, then the supporter of polygamy or incestuous 'marriage' can accuse the person who wants to limit marriage to two people who are not related to each other can also be accused of intolerant bigotry.

So here is the problem for those who attack the Catholic Church as "intolerant" because she defines marriage between a man and a woman only.  Because they recognize the openness to possibility of life as one of the requirements of marriage and the unity of two people as another, it is not intolerance that marriage be made up of only two people and between a man and a woman.

BUT, for anyone who claims that it is only the affection between people that is the basis of marriage – and therefore homosexual "marriage" should be allowed IS bigoted if they refuse to allow other unions which fall under this criteria.

Remember, by expressing outrage at this claim, the proponents of "gay marriage" have already demonstrated that they find the possibility of polygamy and incestuous "marriage" offensive by being outraged at what the bishop and the cardinal have said.  So their dilemma is:

  1. Either they tolerate any sort of relationship which can be justified by the reductio ad absurdum
  2. OR they must justify why they can draw the line to exclude these things and still rationally support "gay marriage."

Maybe that's why supporters are so prone to hurling ad hominems instead of explaining their position?

No comments:

Post a Comment