Two former New York Giants players have recently made public statements about gay marriage. Retired defensive end Michael Strahan supports it, and shot a video for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign. A few days later, wide receiver David Tyree announced he was against same-sex marriage, and made his own video for the National Organization for Marriage.
Guess which one the media tackled?
Yahoo News sneered that Tyree “managed to put his foot in his mouth in the minds of many people.” A NewsCore report headlined “Gay Marriage Will Lead To Anarchy,” which is not what Tyree said, went out of its way to smear the National Organization for Marriage as an “anti-gay group,” which is also what Yahoo News calls them. Read their mission statement and decide for yourself if that’s a fair characterization.
This is more of the vapid “this or that” false-choice rhetoric of people who can’t win an argument unless opposition to their viewpoints is pre-emptively defined as insane. You’re either in favor of gay marriage, or you’re an anti-gay bigot! There are no other choices, so stop arguing and submit!
Tyree did make a strong statement. Here is the video he made for the National Organization for Marriage. Warning if you’re easily offended by humble, heartfelt statements of faith: he says stuff like “marriage is the only relationship that actually mirrors a relationship with God.”
Tyree says a number of interesting and provocative things in this video, but here’s the “anarchy” part that has everyone so worked up: “If they pass this gay marriage bill… I guess you can say my peace is in God’s sovereignty, but… what I know, what would happen if this comes forth… this would be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it is a strong word, but anarchy. The moment we have… if you trace back even to other cultures, other countries, that will be the moment when our society in itself loses its grip on what’s right.”
He’s saying that redefinition of marriage would be the beginning of a slide toward anarchy. That is, as Tyree himself concedes, a strong statement, but it’s not the same thing as saying “Gay marriage, BOOM!, instant anarchy!”
Later, Tyree explains that he sees marriage as “the backbone of society.” That’s a big idea that deserves far more than a short video, or blog post, to fully explore, but it goes to the heart of the dishonest and unfair tactics used against proponents of traditional marriage. We believe marriage is inherently special, and important to society. It has great significance in the raising of children, but even that is not the full measure of its value. Believing this is not automatically an insult to permanent gay partnerships, any more than it’s an insult to people who remain single for their entire lives.
Universal participation in a tradition is not necessary to make it special. Reverence for one thing does not require contempt for everything else. Our culture’s shoddy treatment of marital vows has not diminished their power, any more than playing Beethoven badly corrupts his genius.
Re-definition of marriage absolutely requires a re-definition of manhood and womanhood that runs contrary to both ancient tradition and objective reality. You cannot say that men and women are uniquely different without asserting that a relationship between them is special. You cannot say such relationships are special while also insisting they’re exactly the same as any other bond, formed between any number of people. It is not logically necessary to assert that all other bonds are without merit or inferior, to acknowledge the marital relationship is unique and worthy of celebration.
Does diluting the importance of marriage, by opening it to other permutations, represent the first step in a series of breakdowns that lead to anarchy? That would be an interesting discussion to have with David Tyree. You cannot begin that discussion by telling him he’s a bigot, madman, or fool for even voicing the idea. If your arguments require doing so, then you are the one who needs a course in remedial logic, not Mr. Tyree.