In regards to relativism and subjectivism we can establish that holding a moral belief is a subjective opinion, but using the divine command theory can lead us to the conclusion that morality has the possibility of objectivity. Opinions could be based on personal culture/folklore, family history, or media portrayal. Unless one can strip away all of these subjective opinion inducing factors, an individual’s specific morality cannot be objective and most likely won’t be relevant to a large amount of ethical situations. This bias obviously limits objectivity, since opinions are decided by a person’s background and social peers instead of morality. Personal morality cannot be applied to other people’s lives specifically, so it cannot be a maxim necessarily. In an effort to make morality more consistent, more like a science, we must attempt to remove ourselves from the moral decision making by following a code. These types of codes increase objectivity, but where does the sexual orientation of others fit into this code of ethics and does it exclude those with different sexual orientations and infringe on their rights. Throughout the course of this essay I intend to find out whether or not sexual orientation affects the way in which people are treated and by looking at common moral codes determine if they are instrumental in the development of sexuality.
Divine command theory attempts to extract subjectivity from ethics, the goal of the Divine command theory is to move ethics to a position of complete objectivity, completely free of human bias/prejudice. Their perspective in a nut shell is basically that human minds are incapable of seeing ethics as completely objective without any forms of bias because they’re invariably flawed and even the sharpest most objective person will be to some extent affected by their surroundings/upbringing/past experience and have subjective opinions.
This theory attempts to take human moral calculations out of the hands of man and completely eliminate their judgement from moral decision making and instead put it in the hands of a higher power.
In theory by putting moral decision making in the hands of a god, who is not human and thus can be completely impartial on human ethical issues, they will have no bias whatsoever and can be completely free of subjectivity and thus by one hundred percent accurate. The divine command dictates that whatever god says is morally correct is morally correct and whatever god says is morally wrong is morally wrong (Brodie & Rowe, 2002). This makes moral dilemmas as easy as looking it up in an instruction manual, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a discussion because god can just settle all ethical disputes because he/she is totally impartial and morally correct.
This in theory completely resolves the issue of subjectivity in morality (Brodie & Rowe, 2002). On the hand the first problem is that this theory presupposes a belief in god and if you don’t believe in god you certainly won’t be willing to accept an imaginary deities codes of conduct because obviously if he isn’t real these rules were not made by a deity but instead by a very manipulative liar. Other criticisms are; if morality is as objective as a science then god’s commandments are redundant. This becomes clearer in Plato’s Euthyphro, in Socrates’ discussion with Euthyphro about the nature of piety (Burnet, 1977). Euthyphro wonders whether something is good because god commands it or is it just good so god commands it (Burnet, 1977). Is god actually defining what is good and we’re just going along with what he says because he god or is good something separate from god and he/she is simply directing/guiding us to it?
In the same respect Levidicus is often quoted as proof that god said homosexuality was a sin. However it must be noted that Levidicus also states that eating selfish and getting tattoos is a sin and a lot of other ridiculous things. But as a society, there aren’t people picketing tattoo parlors or seafood restaurants so it seems more likely it’s used as a device to justify ones own personal prejudices(Cookson & Mander, 2006). If we believe that everything god says is to be believed as the utmost in morally correct facts simply because he’s god and he’s meant to be perfect and we believe it without question then in theory anything can be considered morally correct. Theists would argue that every command given by god is right in any given context so you should be able to when confronted with a problem and find a rule that applies. Can we be sure what he actually said is even interpreted correctly? What if the Bible caught the wrong end of the stick or clergymen don’t understand what it is they’re really saying?
There are some basic arguments against gay marriage. The first is that it defies what is believed to be an ancient tradition that has always been that of the union of a man and a woman. That definition is very basic and the general idea is if this rule which was supposedly created by god, and by breaking this rule there will be negative consequences. What really is the peril of altering the definition of marriage, will god get angry? Seemingly god created gay people so why should he be mad when they try to attain the same standards of living as straight people. Surely the definition of marriage isn’t as simple as one man and one woman. ‘Lifelong heterosexual monogamy is natural; gay relationships are not’. Homosexual relationships are not natural in terms of they have no function in relation to procreation, they can’t have kids but that doesn’t make their relationships any less valid. For example we don’t necessarily boil all the relationships we ever have down to something as simple as the process of making more humans. Relationships are about enjoying people’s company and that is of course possible between two gay men or women.
Homosexuality is natural by definition of the word ‘natural’ as it does occur in nature, there are gay animals and it has been proven by scientists there is a ‘gay gene’ it is not a lifestyle choice it is to do with the individuals genetics. It does make sense that the religious community would refuse to accept homosexuality as religion at its core is about overcoming our natures and not succumbing to them. It’s only natural that they would see homosexuality as something that could be overcome through struggle but this is just not the case, you can’t fight your genetic structure, it would be like a fish trying to become a bird, it’s just not possible and in some cases it can be psychologically damaging for someone to ‘pray away the gay’ as some churches explain is possible. ‘The nuclear family is the universal, time-tested path to forming families and raising children’. The nuclear family as it is commonly known was believed until the 1970’s families were fairly standard and consisted of homemaker mother and a breadwinner father. This idea is a of course false. This was a myth created in the 1950’s as the economy allowed for a single income family to flourish. The truth is our society’s family structure is as diverse as the people that comprise it. It is actually impossible in our economic crisis for a normal family to survive on a single income so this idea of a bread winner and a home maker is a complete fallacy purely in economical terms.
These ideas have been losing ground and losing arguments for a very long time now as gay marriage as a cause has moved from the realm of eccentric fantasy to a very strong civil rights movement roughly half the country is now in favor of. When California’s Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of gay marriage stating, “That defining marriage as the union of two heterosexuals, a male and a female is unconstitutional and unjust”. By this we start to realize that these arguments against gay marriage have been losing because they’re plainly wrong. The idea of a ‘traditional marriage’ is not universal polygamy is a constant in cultures old and new all over the world it’s only our culture that emphasizes monogamy. This belied that heterosexual monogamy is natural is obviously just opinion based, it can’t be a categorical fact that monogamy is what god wants or what is natural because there are so many people around the world that don’t conform to that standard. It’s often more likely that a whole neighborhood raises a child in some cultures than two parents. Lifelong heterosexual monogamy is not natural if the definition of ‘natural’ is “congruent with our biological instincts,” in fact it is arguably the most unnatural arrangement of a relationship that exists. Simply in terms of Darwinism, it is in direct conflict with the principles of the male impulse towards promiscuity, (i.e. to mate with as many partners as possible to increase the likelihood of carrying on their genetic material) and the females interest in mating with the ‘best’ mate available and obviously this is why there is so much polygamy in history.
What are the opponents of gay marriage really defending? It’s obvious it’s not a universal tradition or in fact a biological imperative. Instead just one person’s specific vision of marriage, trying to establish a sexual ideal. It’s basically a way of trying to control people having sex by making it seem harder to do so. It’s nothing to do with love and union it’s about someone trying to fit their ideas into society like a square peg in a round hole.
Marriage hold up as a lifelong commitment of fidelity between two beings that have completely different sexual imperatives, this basically involves a mutual surrender of their natural sexual self interest. This in religious terms is admirable, to negate your natural feeling for a structure imposed by an unseen force. This we’re lead to believe creates a stronger bond between children and their parents because they’re in constant contact with them as they try to establish this unnatural ideal. Marriage is basically a way of telling people how to have a relationship, it sets up rules and regulations and taboos to regulate sexual relationships.
We’re lead to believe that heterosexual monogamy can offer something better that makes it worthy of protection and praise. It’s a fulfillment of this idea of normalcy that is truly an illusion, something to be aspired but can never be reached. This of course is just the western interpretation, which come from Judeo-Christian ideologies surrounding creation. This ideal was what people strived for but recently the approach is more accommodating. The rates of divorce and remarriage is skyrocketing, people are having more out of wedlock births and teenage pregnancies than ever before and serial monogamy in which someone has a series of long term partners. This idea that gay marriage in some way damages marriage is way off the mark clearly. If there are ever was a concept of marriage it was dead and buried a long time ago. The sanctity of marriage is not something worth protecting because it doesn’t exist.
Gay marriage critics who argue that it can somehow lead to polygamy aren’t really getting it. We already have polygamy, just in today’s world we space it out. Ideas of polygamy are interpreted in terms of what used to be a Mormon household where the man of the family had many wives at once. Today one man can have dozens of wives one after the other because the legal definition of marriage is like that of buying a car. If you don’t like you’re marriage anymore you can just throw it away and get another. Divorce is so easy today marriage essentially has no value, what was meant to be a lifelong commitment is now as temporary as renting an apartment and that is what is destroying the sanctity of marriage not gay people. The devaluing of marriage isn’t necessarily a bad thing because in utilitarian theory it conforms to making the most people happy. The amount of people happily married outweighs the amounts that are unhappily married because of the relative ease of divorce increasing the overall happiness of a society, in the same respect that if gay people were afforded the same rights as straight people that would make a lot of people happy(Douthat, 2010)
. It would obviously make a lot people mad as well but that anger would obviously not be justified.
If these new ideals destroy the old ideas of marriage, gay marriage will become acceptable as well as a moral imperative. Gay people often have longer commitments than that of straight people going through phases of serial monogamy. Marriage today is just an optional celebration of romantic love, this has no real relationship with the creation of children, other than that’s what couples do. Marriage and children aren’t connected, one can exist without the other in many cases. Gay people not being able to have children is not a good enough reason to deny them the same rights as straight people to celebrate their love for each other(Douthat, 2010). Society and the law has no business deciding whether or not straight love is more valid than gay love by delegating whether or not gay people can get married. Just like marriage is only loosely connected to children, love is only loosely connected to the idea of a man and a woman. There is no one on earth than can equate and compare the love of a man and a woman to that of a gay couple, since there is no metric way of measuring love so by that reasoning you have to accept that a gay couple can indeed love each other as much if not more than a straight one and thus deserve the same rights to marriage (Bailey).
Based on Judge Walker’s ideas which is that any distinction between gay relationships and straight relationships is bigoted and un-American, I don’t think there’s much room for a world in which heterosexual relationships will ever be the standard for which to strive and hopefully this will decrease discrimination towards gay couples and we can move towards an era of acceptance and enlightenment.
Bailey, S. J. Ph.D.(2013) CFLE: Understanding the Challenges and Strengths of Diverse Families (Lecture). Montana State University
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