Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg’s Non-Rational Rant About Marriage
Sun-Times’ Neil Steinberg’s Non-Rational Rant About Marriage
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   02.14.10

If the superficial, silly, ad hominem non-arguments that constitute the sum total of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg‘s indictment of conservative positions on homosexuality were not so dangerous, they would be laughable.

In a rant in the Sunday Feb. 14 Sun-Times, Mr. Steinberg describes opposition to faux same-sex marriages and civil unions as “sick,” “twisted sexual” obsessions, “creepy, fixated” fundamentalism, “religious prejudice,” “intolerant,” and “inhuman.”

He compares opposition to the radical, subversive, a-historical effort to jettison the central defining feature of marriage–sexual complementarity–to teeth flossing and clean underwear checks.

Ah, yes, I can hear the mellifluous tones of tolerance wafting through his rhetoric.

One wonders if Mr. Steinberg applies these same epithets and feckless analogies to opposition to jettisoning any of the other defining features of marriage, like the binary requirement, or the blood kinship requirement. Are those who oppose adult consensual incest or polygamy sick, twisted sexual obsessives, and creepy, fixated fundamentalists?

Mr. Steinberg’s cliche non-arguments lead me to wonder if he has ever engaged with the substantive arguments of real intellectuals, either in person or through a thorough study of the best writing of conservative scholars. I think not because nary a substantive counter- argument can be found in his thicket of epithets.

Here are some questions for the moral philosopher, Mr. Steinberg:

  • Is homosexuality ontologically equivalent to race or skin color? If so, what is your evidence for that claim?
  • Is homosexuality morally equivalent to heterosexuality? If so, what are your justifications for that belief?
  • What is the basis of the government’s involvement in marriage?
  • Is the government in the business of simply affirming affection and sexual desire?
  • If so, why not affirm through legal mechanisms like marriage or civil unions the affection and sexual attraction some siblings feel for each other, or the affection and sexual attraction polyamorists feel for multiple people?
  • Is marriage an utterly private institution, or does it impact the public good?
  • If marriage is an utterly private institution with no impact on the public good, then why is the government involved at all?
  • If the government’s involvement in the marriage business is wholly severed from supporting the type of relationship into which children may be born, why limit it to two biologically unrelated people. (After all, in Mr. Steinberg’s moral universe, no one should be permitted to impose his intolerant, inhuman moral views on others. How very sick and prejudiced it is for anyone to prohibit those who love and want to express that love sexually to their siblings or multiple people. Moreover, how could a marriage between two siblings or five people hurt anyone else’s marriage?)

Islam, Orthodox Judaism, The Roman Catholic Church, and many Protestant denominations believe that volitional homosexual acts are immoral, and that marriage is by nature a heterosexual union. Before writing another anti-religious screed devoid of intellectual substance, it would behoove Mr. Steinberg to spend some time studying the work of the following scholars:

Hadley Arkes, Francis Beckwith, Henri Blocher, Joseph Bottum, Michael L. Brown, Don Browning, D.A. Carson, Charles Chaput, Mark Dever, Anthony Esolen, Douglas Farrow, John S. Feinberg, David F. Forte, John Frame, Robert Gagnon, Robert George, Arthur Goldberg, Wayne Grudem, John Finnis, Harold James, Stanton Jones, Walter Kaiser, Meredith Kline, Peter Kreeft, Daniel Lapin, Al Mohler, Douglas Moo, Russell Moore, Jennifer Roback Morse, Mark Noll, David Novak, J.I. Packer, John Piper, Patrick Henry Reardon, Leland Ryken, Thomas Schreiner, Roger Scruton, Janet E. Smith, Katherine Shaw Spaht, John Stott, Seanna Sugrue, Bruce Ware, Thomas Weinandy, W. Bradford Wilcox, Christopher Wolfe, N.T. Wright, and Ravi Zacharias.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins became the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High...
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