The Futility Of Same Sex Marriage Debates
For those who follow the debates on same-sex marriage they will often be led to the conclusion that there is no logical or reasonable basis for denying same-sex marriage. This conclusion is true as a matter of fact, and it is also inevitable when all the arguments of religion are considered irrelevant. The fact is we are living in a secular age, and in this age religion is getting less and less consideration in public debates on issues like marriage and divorce, birth control and abortion. Even though it may be argued that religious affiliation all over the world has been increasing over the years it cannot be denied that the society as a whole is actually getting more and more secular. The success of secularization is not in complete obliteration of religion but in changing the way people view life and existence as a whole. In that regard secularization has succeeded to a large extent. To a secular person what is important is this life here in this world, because he believes there is only this world and the life therein. There is no life after death, and human destiny is to be sought here and now. This is the essence of secularism.
But what is the point of religious affiliation when the worldview is totally secular, whereas secularism is inherently anti-religion? What is the purpose of religion when it is believed that there is no soul, no life after death, and no meaning of life except whatever meaning that we ascribe to it ourselves? And if there is not life after death then why should anybody be a good and ethical person? These questions, of course, are not new questions, but they don’t have to be new to be relevant. They are indeed very relevant and must first be addressed before we can talk about homosexuality or gay marriage.
These questions must come first because they are the big questions of life and existence, and anybody, including the gay people, desperately need to know their answers. They are big questions because they have to do with the ultimate meaning to life, and everybody is desperate to know the answers because everybody desires to live a meaningful life. But who can give the answers to these questions? Attempts have been made by the philosophers throughout the ages to address the questions, but none has given the needed answers, except that it is not possible to know the answers. If the answer to these questions are not possible, then the ultimate meaning of life also cannot be known. This is in fact the position of secularism. In other words life is a tragedy because it has no purpose beyond it. This conclusion is to be expected when The Absolute is denied. When God is denied and rejected man becomes the measure of everything, and his only concern is life in this world.
There is actually no point of engaging in a debate when the truth cannot be known, or it is ever-changing and relative. For any debate to be fruitful both sides must believe that truth can be known and objectively verified. The debate about homosexuality does not take place in a vacuum. It involves a lot of assumptions regarding the nature of man, life, and existence as a whole. Underlying the pro-gay position is the assumption that religion is a human construct, and it is therefore subject to changes and revisions. What secularization does to religion is to force it to change in order to remain relevant. This is what is expected of all religions. But Islam is totally different because the Muslims hold that the religion of Islam has been revealed by God, and it is not a human construct that is subject to historical changes. It is therefore impossible to expect the Muslims to change their way of life as prescribed by the religion of Islam simply because they do not have the right to do so. Even the Muslim scholars or political leaders would never change or omit anything that is clearly mentioned in the Quran or the Tradition.
So the real debate is not on whether or not to allow homosexuality because the position of Islam regarding that is very clear and well-known. What needs to be discussed and perhaps debated is the nature and purpose of knowledge and the meaning of religion because that is foundation that gives rise to all other differences between Islam and the West. The position of Islam regarding homosexuality can only be understood and appreciated in relation to this foundation. But no understanding would be forthcoming until the condescending attitude is thrown away.