February 15, 2019

Male-female marriage remains the ideal

Shortly before she was elected attorney general of California, Kamala Harris and I debated same-sex marriage on CNN. At one point, she asked me if I would prefer a child be raised by same-sex parents who have their act together (a paraphrase, but that was the gist) to being raised by a dysfunctional mother and father. I said I would prefer the functional same-sex parents. 

Having answered her question, I posed one of my own.

I asked her to imagine two couples, one a same-sex couple and the other a married man and woman, and the two are equally loving, psychologically and emotionally healthy, and responsible. If you had a newborn baby that had been placed for adoption, I asked her, which couple would you give the baby to? 

At first, Harris avoided responding to the question. Finally, when pressed, she said that she would need more information about the couples.

The reason I asked the question was that I assume that most proponents of same-sex marriage don’t really believe that starting out life without a mother or without a father — and never having the opportunity to have a mother or father later in life — is just as good for a child as having a mother and a father. 

That’s why Harris didn’t want to answer the question. As a proponent of same-sex marriage, she could not possibly say on national television that, all things being equal, it is better for a child to have both a mother and father. On the other hand, she would sound foolish to most Americans — even many liberals — to say that not having a mother or not having a father makes no difference.

Yet, that is what defenders of same-sex marriage are forced to say. Because if they acknowledge the importance of having a mother and a father, they are implicitly acknowledging that man-woman marriage is the ideal — at least with regard to children.

The reason for the intensity of the passion on behalf of same-sex marriage has little to do with legality and rights. Rights available to married couples could have been made available to same-sex couples without having to redefine marriage. 

Rather, the reason for the intensity on behalf of same-sex marriage is that any same-sex union other than marriage would imply that the male-female union is the ideal. And in the Age of Equality in which we live — all cultures are equal, all religions are equal, all nations are equal — this assertion is not expressible. 

Yet, as much as people seek to deny it, male-female marriage has been the ideal in every civilization that has a recorded history. It has certainly been the Jewish ideal. Adam is alone and God makes for him a woman. A man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his woman and they shall be as one flesh. And men should restrict their sexual activity to their wives (this was unique to the Torah — every other ancient culture celebrated male-male sex; sex with wives was for making babies).

Does the male-female ideal mean that the homosexual man or woman is inferior? Of course not. One example should make this clear: No one, not even most liberal Jews, would argue that having a single (loving and competent) parent is no different from having two (loving and competent) parents. Every intellectually honest person knows that a two-parent home is the ideal. Yet, no one would argue that a single parent is an inferior human being. The idea is preposterous.

Likewise, to acknowledge that the man-woman union is the ideal is in no way a negative judgment about the gay individual. It is only a judgment in favor of the male-female union. Just as the two-parent ideal is in no way a reflection of the worth of the unmarried parent as a human being.

But the left has equated such commonsensical assertions with “hatred,” with “bigotry” and with “racism.” 

The majority of gays will never marry. But the cultural left knows that anything other than marriage — no matter how many rights are allowed — implies that the male-female union is the ideal. And that is not allowed. To even hint at it is to be a “hater.”

That is what the battle over same-sex marriage is largely about.

And that is why it is particularly sad to see how many non-Orthodox rabbis have decided that Judaism has been wrong for 3,000 years in insisting that male-female marriage is the human ideal. It gives one little faith in the non-Orthodox movements’ ability to withstand societal pressure and stand up for Judaism. And this is written by a non-Orthodox Jew.

We have entered a Brave New World unimaginable even to Aldous Huxley, the author of the book of that famous title. He could never have imagined, for example, the latest poll showing that most American young people, 16 to 34, believe that gender identity is “fluid.” 

But how could it not be? If the gender of the person you marry doesn’t matter, if the gender of your parents doesn’t matter — then gender doesn’t matter.

Pity this next generation. They are guinea pigs in the most radical social transformation in history.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host (AM 870 in Los Angeles) and founder of PragerUniversity.com. His latest book is the New York Times best-seller “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” (HarperCollins, 2012).