Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Origins of same sex marriage debate

The following is reaction to the message I posted about same sex marriage, and my replies to them.

Shirley wrote:
> You speak of the early days of our species and the importance of
procreation for the purpose of that species surviving. Was it the
custom then to be married, or was there just the basic pairing off
of man and woman for sex in order to produce offspring?

Of course there was no marriage in the sense we have it now. Marriage, in today's sense, is a promise, a certificate for which is committed to writing, with the signatures of both parties to seal the deal. My personal opinion is that God would find the claim by some people that a marriage ceremony conducted by a cleric as being "blessed by God" to be humourous. God, I believe, doesn't care much about what we promise to each other.

(Do I believe that God has a sense of humour? Yes, as we humans have one and there is little reason otherwise for us to have a sense of humour.)

As for a "basic pairing off of man and woman for sex in order to produce offspring," I believe there is enough paleological evidence to suggest that the sex habits of our earliest ancestors would be something like that of today's orangutans. They looked after (protected, tended and fed) their own. But they would not hesitate to "spread their seed" or to "gather a better seed", in secret, when the opportunity arose. These would be in the days of small bands of people.

By the time our ancestors gathered into tribes, tribal rule prevailed and a man's ownership rights to a woman (sometimes to more than one woman) were more protected by tribal law.
Humans are not monogamous by nature. We are only monogamous by law. Laws, being nothing more than agreements among people, may be broken.

> I read your article and I was not sure if you addressed the importance of the actual 'marriage' in those early days, or just the issue of procreation. This is why homosexual behaviour would have been considered wrong and unnecessary since it did not create babies.

That was the whole point of the article, Shirley. Perhaps I took too long to get to the point.

> That issue would have liitle bearing on the Institute or Sanctity of Marriage that the politicians are arguing about saving (or not saving), depending on the individual views.

That is an emotional boondoggle, propagated by politicians who want to deflect attention from other scandalous news. Only people with extreme religious views care about same sex marriage. Their case is totally emotional, as homosexuals present no verifiable risk to society (except in the imaginations of supercilious fundamentalists who want to control the lives of everyone anyway).

There is no such thing as the "sanctity of marriage." It is totally a construct of religious fundamentalists who want others to follow what they say (despite the fact that they seldom follow their own rules in private).

> I did find your article quite interesting as I had not thought about that way of looking at the issue.

I may be totally wrong. If so, I gave you something to think about.

Bob wrote:
> In my reading, I have come across the fact that in some tribes
a homosexual was treated with much reverence. I have seen this enough times to have some credence.

Homosexuality, in itself, is not a crime, even within religions. The Bible, for example, does not condemn a person for being homosexual. It's the practice of anal sex that disturbs people (for that, the Bible says that a person should be stoned to death, I believe).

We humans have such an aversion to thinking or talking about anything relating to body wastes or the body systems that control them that we believe anything that violates that one-way (outbound) system must be against the laws of God and man.

That harkens back to our early days too, when our ancestors discovered that people got very sick or died when they did not clean themselves after defecating or having anything to do with body wastes, including burying them. In those days, people believed that anthing (including evil spirits) could enter the body through any orifice. So messing around the anus was asking for trouble, as a penis has an orifice through which poisons in an anus could possibly travel.

Remember, even today some say "Bless you!" after someone else sneezes because in times past our ancestors believed that evil spirits entered the body through the nose.

The homosexuals that Bob mentioned were believed to have a special connection with both men and women, such that they were able to understand both sexes, whereas hetrosexuals had enough trouble understanding their own sex. When you consider the enormous role that homosexuals play in cosmetics, fashion and theatre today, it's obvious that the tradition continues, though in slightly different ways.

> the very fact that the sexual act is a pleasurable one advances it beyond the bare necessity of acting for propagation. Rather the propagation is a product of the pleasure involved.

Religious fundamentalists (remember there is no "fun" in fundamentalism) claim that sex is totally and solely for the purpose of propagation of the species.

Sex is pleasurable for other mammals who only mate once or twice a year, Bob. The pleasure is what drives them to mate. The pleasure is the chemistry that makes mating happen.

Humans and bonobo monkeys are among the few species who have sex or are capapble of having sex at any time of any day of the year. To say that this extraordinary characteristic elevates sex itself beyond the level of propagation (Bob did not make this point) may not be supportable.

In those species that are in estrus only once or twice a year, all females are fertile during those same times. Human females may be fertile on any day of the year--even they may not be certain on which day their menstrual cycle will begin, and this determines when the next fertile period will be. So human males are "always ready" to accommodate the great variations in the fertile periods of human females. (Of course, we males get blamed for that, not God, because women are afraid to accuse God of making another mistake.)

> I have also read with interest about a dig where the ancient remains of a cripple were unearthed. What is interesting about this particular case is that the cripple was much older than the normal life span for other specimens of the dig.

This is true and it happens today in some aboriginal tribes. There are two possible reasons for this. First, humans are among a precious few species that look after its sick and its disabled. In most species, those individuals who can't survive on their own are left to die or be eaten.

(Apparently, this practice does not apply to the genocide of tens of thousands (at least) in Somalia or Rwanda or the rape or beating of tens of thousands of women and young girls in Congo. Don't get me started on that.)

Second, those with disabilities sometimes develop extraordinary abilities with the faculties they do have. That makes them "special." They may be tended and treated as shamans, for example. Holy men and women traditionally receive special treatment.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around

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