[W]ould a Christian's desire to live in a world without homosexual marriage be morally equivalent to the desire to enter a homosexual marriage? It would seem that fulfillment of either desire thwarts the other.
This is one of two questions that I received from a member of the studio audience. I answered the first question, on whether an embryo has morally relevant interests, yesterday.
Again, I am going to get pedantic and add some precision to this question.
The fact that a particular desire is a Christian’s desire does not give it any more weight . . . or any less weight . . . then the same desire held by a non-Christian. The question here is really how we should weigh an aversion to homosexual marriage and a desire on the part of some to enter into homosexual marriage. Is this an irreconcilable conflict?
In answering this question we need to look at a few additional factors.
The first is that morality is concerned with applying social forces such as praise and condemnation to malleable desires. Where two sets of desires come into conflict, one of the questions we need to ask ourselves in determining how to resolve that conflict is to ask which of the desires can be more easily changed.
Evidence suggests that the aversion to homosexual marriage is learned. Homosexual desire itself, on the other hand, is often the result of biochemical reactions that occur during fetal development that influence the properties of the body and brain.
The only thing we really need to do to end (or significantly reduce) this aversion to homosexual relationships is to quit teaching children to acquire and aversion to homosexual relationships. Whereas we are not going to get rid of homosexuality itself – at least until fetuses are developed inside of artificially and carefully regulated wombs.
The second factor to examine is to ask whether we are actually dealing with an aversion to homosexual marriage. In many cases, we are not dealing with an aversion to homosexual marriage per se, but with an aversion to that which offends God, and a belief that homosexual marriage offends God. Or, similarly, we could be dealing with an aversion to that which is intrinsically bad and a belief that homosexual marriage is intrinsically bad (or ‘unnatural’).
In these cases, homosexual marriage is not actually thwarting any desires. Instead, some people have merely acquired a false belief that it thwarts certain desires. The objections to homosexual marriage in this case would be similar to an objection raised by a neighbor because you intend to till your garden. Your neighbor comes over and says, “Do not till your garden because it will harm all of the faeries that live in the garden.”
Your neighbor, in this case, has an aversion to having harm done to faeries and a false belief that tilling your garden will harm faeries. However, here aversion to having harm done to faeries will not actually be thwarted by you tilling your garden. Because tilling the garden does not actually thwart any real desires, there is no real world “reason for action” to prevent you from weeding the garden.
Homosexual marriage is in the same situation. Homosexual marriage does not actually offend God because there is no God to be offended. Nor is homosexual marriage intrinsically bad because intrinsic badness does not exist. So, with respect to these concerns, homosexual marriage is not actually thwarting real desires. Consequently, these concerns do not provide any real-world reason to oppose homosexual marriage. They provide imaginary reasons.
If we imagine that the neighbor shoots the gardener to prevent harm being done to the faeries in the garden (or forces him, through law, to starve when he could have been well fed), we do not have a story of a hero doing great deeds. We have a tragedy born of ignorance and superstition.