In which I make a brief appeal to Natural Law…
Clark appeals to Natural Law to defend traditional marriage, lest we think the passing of Prop 8 would be a move toward theocracy (God forbid). But he appeals more to traditional wisdom than to natural law. He mostly asserts that his position is in line with natural law and demonstrates (quite aptly, I might add) that this has traditionally been recognized to be the case. Here is an example of such an argument:
” I argue that the state should regulate marriage on the basis of natural, creational law and that those who advocate pushing back the boundaries of marriage to include homosexual marriage are advocating the recognition of the violation of natural, creational law recognized in the West by pagans and Christians for two thousand years.”
When I asked him to distinguish this argument from the fallacy of Traditional Wisdom, his response was
“People know it [Natural Law] because its [sic] revelation. Not everything that people people [sic] think they know is true. Hence the fallacy you cite.”
Is it me, or did he essentially say, “It is only a fallacy if it is false?” I don’t know how else to understand that statement.
This is the closest thing to an actual natural law argument I could find:
“The contributions of the same sex would produce no offspring. Only heterosexual relations can produce offspring. Biologically considered, it [sic] homosexuality is a dead end.”
This may be considered a valid appeal to Natural Law, but I think it proves more than most advocates of traditional marriage would accept. One problem with this argument is that this would also forbid infertile couples from marrying. On this argument, why ought the infertile heterosexual couple be allowed to marry and adopt orphans, while the homosexual couple is forbidden to do so?
Here, he even appeals to a utilitarian ethic:
“If nature or creational boundaries are no longer normative for marriage and family then what norms are there? All social relations devolve to mere convention (will), become arbitrary, and constantly re-defined.”
His use of the word “devolve” is hardly unbiased. What of those who would use the word “evolve”? How does this argument counter those who indeed want to constantly redefine marriage? Why ought not marriage be redefined with every passing generation? Why ought one’s disfavor of the idea of redefining marriage supersede another’s favor of the idea of redefining marriage?
I know, the post title indicated I would make a brief appeal to natural law, and all I have done so far is express my “Barthian-theonomic skepticism” concerning natural law theory. Ok, this is the only time I will do this. Ready?
When God created man in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, He did not leave man with the rule of Natural Law alone. God walked with sinless Adam and spoke with Him and gave him His Law (Gen 2:17; WCF XIX.I). Therefore, the necessity of special revelation for the life of man in the creation is a creational norm.
Frame makes this basic argument (and much, much more!) here.
And finally, lest my disdain for Clark’s argumentation in any way be misunderstood as disdain for his (apparently intuitive) position,