99.8%+ of human cultures have considered gender diversity to be of the essence of marriage, and even in our culture almost everyone understood marriage this way, until the last 5-10 years, including President Obama. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it, this view of marriage has “formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.”
So you’ve got this institution called “marriage” that every society recognizes, and it’s universally understood as male-female throughout all religions, cultures, societies, etc., and then the 21st century West comes along, and—in the space of a decade—the baseline values and assumptions change so much that everything flips around.
Suppose such a radical revisionism is justified. Suppose everyone throughout history has simply gotten it wrong, and this narrow little slice of humanity in the first-world at the dawn of the 21st century have alone arrived on the truth.
If such a radical u-turn were required, it should at least be accompanied by a great deal of caution and circumspection. What concerns me is the seeming lack of such caution among many on this issue, and the lack of sensitivity to the danger of cultural elitism. When we are plunging against 99% of human history, when we are setting off of the well-worn pathway of human civilization into an unprecedented direction, how about a little more humility and a little less triumphalism?
Of course, those advocating for gay marriage are calling for humility—but only from the traditionalists! I read one post that basically said, “if you celebrate this decision, I rejoice with you; if you are disappointed, just remember that you might be wrong.” This kind of appeal reeks of an enlightened condescension. Why not remind both sides that they might be wrong—particularly the more historically isolated one?