Charlie and Bennie love each other very much. They really do. They have been together now for over 20 years and their love has grown year by year. To all intents and purposes they are just like any other couple. Of course they have their ups and downs, just like all couples. There have been good times and bad times; happy times and times of sorrow. They have had their squabbles and fights, yet somehow Charlie and Bennie have always managed to patch up their differences and move on.
However, Charlie and Bennie claim that they are being discriminated against by an intolerant and prejudiced society. Although they readily acknowledge that attitudes to sexuality have shifted seismically over the past few decades, they claim that many of the old views still prevail and they often find themselves the victims of intolerant and hurtful discrimination.
Sometimes this can take the form of an unkind word from a work colleague. Sometimes it may just be a disapproving glance from a relative. But more than all these things, their chief complaint is that though they are desperate to get married, the law presently forbids them from doing so.
Both Charlie and Bennie, together with a small but determined group of couples with the same issue, have lobbied their representatives tirelessly for a change in the law. However, so far their protestations have at best fallen on deaf ears, and at worst provoked disgust and downright hostility. Despite these discouragements, Charlie and Bennie are vowing to press on until the state of Massachusetts grants to them the “equal marriage” status they say is their right.
As far as Charlie and Bennie are concerned, the problem comes down purely and simply to societal prejudices. In this case, they say that the prejudice in question is not homophobia, but incestophobia, for Charlie and Bennie – or Charles and Bennita to give them their proper names – are brother and sister.
Okay, so Charlie and Bennie don’t really exist. Well they might, for all I know, but if they did, why would they not be granted “equal marriage” rights, even in states like Massachusetts?
The answer is two-fold. Firstly, the number of siblings calling for “equal marriage” to be granted to them is not sufficiently large enough to make much of an impact on the political classes, and secondly, even the liberal-left – the “enlightened ones” by their own estimation – are still squeamish about incest and say “Yukk” when the issue is brought up.
I mention all this because during the same-sex marriage debates in the UK, the latest round of which took place on Tuesday, the “it could lead to incestuous marriage” argument has been used several times only to be drowned out in howls of protest by the Nice Squishy Tolerance People (NSTPs).1 2 They are beside themselves with outrage that anyone could even dare to equate the push for homosexual marriage with something as utterly repugnant, despicable and vile as incestuous marriages.
There is something rather enjoyable in watching their howls of outrage, as it happens. Remember, these are the same people who have been talking about tolerance and diversity for years, all the while portraying us Christians as intolerant, bigoted homophobes. And here they are fiercely defending same-sex marriage against the intolerant bigots who would equate it with incest, all the while unwittingly displaying an intolerance of incest the equal of anything we could conjure up. So it turns out that we’re all intolerant, bigoted phobics then – it’s just that we Christians draw our bigot line further back where the Bible draws it, whilst the NSTPs draw it at the point when even they can’t help but say “Yukk.”
As for the argument that same-sex marriage could lead to incestuous marriages, this is largely an irrelevant question. My guess is that it probably wouldn’t, simply because there is unlikely to be that much clamour for it. The point, however, is not whether it might lead to such unions, but whether having redefined the biblical, historical, and almost universally accepted definition of marriage, on what basis do the NSTPs then deny the possibility of granting unions to other configurations? And furthermore, if they do deny it to other arrangements, isn’t this evidence – by their own definition that is – that they are not the NSTPs they would have us believe, but rather intolerant, bigoted phobics themselves?
The NSTPs will of course retort with something along the lines of, “don’t you know what can happen if a brother and a sister conceive a child?” Well yes I do, but I also happen to know what can happen if two men have intercourse, and I know how modern society has attempted to come up with its own workaround for this particular problem. It is called “safe-sex,” only it turns out not to be quite as safe as all that, and HIV is now spreading amongst homosexuals at alarming rates.3
Well the same could be done with incest, could it not? Could not “safe-incest” campaigns be launched in order to combat the dangers of close relatives conceiving? And as the actor Jeremy Irons recently pointed out, it is possible that the two relatives getting married could both be men, which of course gets around the offspring problem because – as he pointed out – men don’t breed.4 In other words, the howls of outrage that greet the “it could lead to incest” argument are phoney and risible, being borne out of the NSTPs intolerance of incest, rather than because incestuous relationships are any more problematic than homosexual relationships. There is only one effective argument against incestuous relationships and marriages, and it is that God has forbidden them.
Of course Mr Irons got a kicking for his remarks, with the NSTPs again reacting with their usual phoney outrage. His outlandish suggestion that messing with the definition of marriage could lead to a father marrying his son to avoid inheritance tax sounds just about as absurd a combination as it’s possible to get, yet who was it who began playing around with absurd marriage combinations? It wasn’t Mr Irons. Once you have redefined the triangle so that it is no longer:
but can now include:
you need to tell me why it couldn’t then be redefined further to include:
And you need to tell me what happened to your commitment to tolerance and inclusiveness when someone else suggests defining it as this:
Here is my challenge to the NSTPs. I am able to rule out granting Charlie and Bennie the right to marry because God’s Word forbids such unions. And if Charlie and Bennie turned out to be two completely unrelated men, rather than brother and sister, I would rule it out on the same basis. In your eyes ruling out the latter makes me an intolerant homophobe, but what about the former? And on what basis do you rule out giving Charlie and Bennie what they seek? Be careful how you answer it now. Any howls of outrage that someone has dared to bring up something so vile and repugnant as incest in the debate about homosexual marriage might just be taken as evidence that you are not quite the NSTPs you would like to believe. You wouldn’t want to be known as incestophobes, now would you?