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The Man Who Was Thursday

Having recently had several conversations over an annoyance of mine (I don't believe that marriage necessarily has much to do with love, in either its legal or its civil capacities), I was looking through arguments about gay marriage with a bit of a new eye. It struck me that when activists like Andrew Sullivan mention that homosexuals desiring to get married won't weaken heterosexual marriage, but strengthen it [1], he was preceded in the thought by G. K. Chesterton, several generations ago. In the words of his 'sufficiently democratic' policeman:

'"You are not sufficiently democratic," answered the policeman, "but you were right when you said just now that our ordinary treatment of the poor criminal was a pretty brutal business. I tell you I am sometimes sick of my trade when I see how perpetually it means merely a war upon the ignorant and the desperate. But this new movement of ours is a very different affair. We deny the snobbish English assumption that the uneducated are the dangerous criminals. We remember the Roman Emperors. We remember the great poisoning princes of the Renaissance. We say that the dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; my heart goes out to them. They accept the essential ideal of man; they merely seek it wrongly. Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. But philosophers dislike property as property; they wish to destroy the very idea of personal possession. Bigamists respect marriage, or they would not go through the highly ceremonial and even
ritualistic formality of bigamy. But philosophers despise marriage as marriage.
Murderers respect human life; they merely wish to attain a greater fulness of human life in themselves by the sacrifice of what seems to them to be lesser lives. But philosophers hate life itself, their own as much as other people's."'

--The Man Who Was Thursday (emphasis mine)

Yet one more thing I don't have time to read.

Update: In case anyone wonders why I like this book, I have a gread deal of fondness of the main character, Mr. Gabriel Syme.

GABRIEL SYME was not merely a detective who pretended to be a poet; he was really a poet who had become a detective. Nor was his hatred of anarchy hypocritical. He was one of those who are driven early in life into too conservative an attitude by the bewildering folly of most revolutionists. He had not attained it by any tame tradition. His respectability was spontaneous and sudden, a rebellion against rebellion. He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realisation; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinth and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike. The more his mother preached a more than Puritan abstinence the more did his father expand into a more than pagan latitude; and by the time the former had come to enforcing vegetarianism, the latter had pretty well reached the point of defending cannibalism.

Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left--sanity. But there was just enough in him of the blood of these fanatics to make even his protest for common sense a little too fierce to be sensible.

[1] An argument with which I agree, incidentally, although I don't think it's very relevant. Certainly many enthusiastically married couples will strengthen an institution which will then be called 'marriage.' But it won't be the same institution that preceded it, which is rather what the debate is about. In a sense, it will strengthen something by destroying something else, making the entire line of argument a little more than an exercise in semantics.

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i'm not sure who had that idea first, Andrew Sullivan or the Massachusetts SJC, but it was certainly expressed in the Goodridge decision. (17th paragraph of section IIIB - http://www.masslaw.com/signup/gtwFulltext.cfm?page=ma/opin/sup/1017603.htm)
In the legal sense, I agree that no, marriage does not require love. I believe that jason was trying to point out that the foundation for having marriage is procreation and that gay marriage violates this. I disagree and my point (now written on Mr. Yin's blog in full) is that the original foundation for marriage was probably property exchange (wife) which may include procreation but that this is no longer valid. With equal rights and birth control the new foundation of why a person SHOULD get married is for love and that gay marriage does not violate this. The religious aspect has necessarily evolved and that is why this position is not hostile to religion (religion has already changed). But in large I agree with you, the gov should have ideally stayed out of the marriage business altogether. That in part is why I object to the gov interfering in a church's desire to conduct a gay marriage now... anyway...

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