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Issue of Equality?

Last Tuesday, I was listening to the "Bible Answer Man" radio show on Bott Radio Network.  This is a live broadcast that welcomes people to call in and get a chance to ask whatever question they like.  The show's host, Hank Hanegraaff, then does his best to answer that question from what he sees as a biblical perspective.  I found that I like the show despite the fact that I don't always agree with his answers.  I guess I just like interacting in conversations about things that matter to people and how they relate to the Bible.  Granted, the conversation is taking place without my ability to interact.  But, being a fly on the wall is apparently alright with me since I continue to tune in.

I downloaded the mp3 from the show last Tuesday and trimmed it down to the one caller's two-part question along with Hank's responses.  I have included that at the bottom of this blog entry in case you would like to hear it for yourself.

The question essentially went like this:  Since we are equally granted the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, shouldn't same-sex couples be equally granted the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples but in the form of civil unions?

This question came from a Christian who thinks that it is "inequality" to give benefits to married people yet deny those same benefits to same-sex couples.  The more common argument is that they want same-sex couples to be granted the right to get legally married thus providing them with the same benefits.  Though, in listening to their arguments, most are not so concerned with the benefits.  They just use them as a point to argue about, but really they're looking to be treated as equals by the law.  This is a tough one to argue simply because, like the photo depicts, one who disagrees with the misguided movement is quickly labeled as a bigot, a hatemonger, a racist (quite the stretch there), intolerant, unloving, etc.

I thought, at first, that Hank was going to answer this question as I would have answered this question but he didn't.  He dived straight into the arguments against redefining marriage.  Which is fine, but I feel that he missed the opportunity to confront the underlying assumption that the question is posing.  The question is assuming that there is a lack of equal rights between a heterosexual man/woman and a man/woman who self-identifies as a homosexual.  The assertion being made is that heterosexuals enjoy a right to marry and the rights to the benefits that go along with that while those who claim to be homosexual are denied those rights.  However, this assumption is simply not true.

The fact is that all adults have the equal right to marry whomever they choose as long as they meet the criteria required to be a lawful marriage.  We all have the same criteria to that right.  Therefore we all have equal rights.  There are certain criteria that need to be met in order to receive a marriage license.  Just off the top of my head, here are some of those criteria:
  • There must be two applicants applying for the marriage.  (You can't marry yourself, or your imaginary friend.)
  • Both applicants must be humans.  (No explanation necessary.)
  • Both applicants must be alive.  (No marrying dead bodies.)
  • Both applicants must be present.  (No absentee ballot marriages.)
  • Both applicants must be adults.  (I believe that some states will allow minors of a certain age to marry with parental consent, though I don't personally believe this is a good practice.)
  • Both applicants must consent to the marriage.  (No forcing marriage on someone.)
  • Both applicants must be of sound mind.  (No forcing marriage on someone who may not willfully choose it if they had the ability to properly communicate their wishes.)
  • Both applicants must not be immediately related.  (No one seems to be debating this despite the fact that pretty much all of the same arguments being made for the allowance of same-sex marriage also apply to this category.  Right?)
  • The two applicants must consist of a man and a woman.  (This gets into the popular "redefinition of marriage" debate.)
  • The two applicants must not already be married to another person.  (The polygamy argument.  Not too many debating this one either, albeit with the spotty success of same-sex marriage legalization, more polygamists are coming out of the woodwork looking to piggyback with the same set of arguments and the watered-down legal definition of marriage.)
Since we all have the same rights that have the same restrictions we do have equal rights.  Where the argument takes the turn is when someone makes the statement that they can't legally marry who they love.  What is happening here is two things: 1.  They are trying to say that marriage is the legal recognition of those that love each other.  But, even Tina Turner points out the problem here with her hit song "What's Love Got To Do With It?"  As demonstrated in the list of criteria above, the government doesn't require nor recognize love.  And, we don't want them to.  2. They are trying to shift the equality from people to actions.  But, equality doesn't translate to actions.  Actions are not equal unless they are the same action, which in the example cited (the love between a same-sex couple versus the love between an opposite-sex couple) is not at all the same action.  One can't compare one love to another regardless of "sexual orientation".  But, that is another argument all together.  Hank went straight to this argument when trying to answer the question.  And, I can see why.  He knew that this is where it was going.

Where my answer would've differed is that I would have started with the refutation of the assumption of the question that implied that there is a lack of equal rights happening here.  I did this in the paragraphs above.  Then, to refute that civil unions should be allowed to offer the same benefits to same-sex couples, I would've simply stated that the benefits given to opposite-sex marriages are given because it's the only union that can possibly produce our nation's greatest asset: children.  Same-sex unions can not do this.  The argument goes like this in its purest form:
  1. By nature and design, 100% of children are produced by one man and one woman.
  2. Only male/female relationships can provide a mother and father to a child — the intuitive ideal supported by countless studies.
Same-sex unions cannot produce children nor can they ever produce the ideal household in which to raise other children.  Without the production of children, our nation will not survive.  And, without the production of ideal child-rearing environments, our nation will fail to produce successful future generations.  It is in the best interests of our government and the advancement of our culture to encourage opposite-sex marriages through whatever means within our power.  Therefore, the government has no business offering same-sex unions the same benefits since their unions are not nor will they ever be equally beneficial to society as opposite-sex marriages have always been.

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