I was traveling for a couple of days and did not get a chance to respond to the comments on my article on marriage when they first appeared. The great blog machine has moved on but since there were a number of comments I thought I would respond. In addition, the California State Supreme Court is considering today the legality of San Francisco marrying same sex couples.
The comments fell into two categories: the usual polemical stuff, often criticizing something the article did not say, and lists of human behavior supposed to contradict my argument. The latter comments deserve a comment in return, I think.
Contraception and sexual activities other than what is strictly necessary to reproduce are examples of the sort of thing that some took as sufficient in themselves to undermine my argument. Such things supposedly show that my account is too narrow and rigid. But a bit of reflection suffices to show that, on the basis of the argument I made, neither contraception nor the activities alluded to are either right or wrong in all cases. They need to be judged on the basis of the purposes of sex and marriage articulated in the article.
John Moser’s comments on the article were, I thought, particularly revealing because they were so dismissive. He does not object on the basis that the argument is too narrow, that it categorizes as unacceptable some things that are good. John rejects the whole effort to judge human behavior by any standard other than what people actually do. On this basis, I wonder why he objects, as he so frequently does in the blog, to the shoddy practice of history or, as he did today, to sexually exploiting teenage girls.
John’s approach to these questions is of interest more generally. John takes his bearings apparently by what men are capable of doing, by their power. Our power is increasing steadily. As we enter an age when human biology itself will come under our power, John’s approach will open extraordinary possibilities. The argument about homosexual “marriage” is part of a larger argument about whether there is any limit to those possibilities.