The statement “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others” is from a reddit comment I saw. It aptly sums up the common secularist Western mindset toward things like gay marriage. The one who says it generally assumes this is an undeniable and inalienable right, meaning that there is absolutely no way anyone with a functioning brain, common sense and a lack of religious brainwashing should oppose it. It is perhaps an extension of the train of thought so well-put in America’s Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The problem with it, however, is that it assumes that humanity is purposeless. This is not surprising, since the people who believe in it are secularists to a greater or lesser degree. But if humanity has a purpose, then the statement is false. People should not pursue what makes them happy, even if it doesn’t affect others, they should pursue whatever serves their purpose.
Therefore, embracing the statement is not a sign of being modern and enlightened, and opposing it is not a sign of backwardness and a lack of empathy for others. The difference is not between being modern or backward, the difference is in whether you consider humanity purposeless or purposeful. If humanity is purposeless, they should peaceably follow their instincts, as the statement advocates. If humanity has a purpose, humans should fulfill that purpose, instead of (merely) peaceably following their instincts.
If you have a purpose, and if acting upon an instinct goes against your purpose, then it logically follows that you shouldn’t do it.
Therefore the right to do as you please as long as it doesn’t harm others is self-evident and inalienable only if you presuppose that humans are purposeless (that there is not a God who has designated certain purposes for humanity). Since the religious do not presuppose these, they do not believe in the statement.
In a society in which both religious and irreligious people live, whose word should take precedence, since there is no hard evidence for humanity having a purpose?
Generally, as is happening in Australia, opposition to things like gay marriage are portrayed as ignorance and backwardness, since the liberals who support these things are completely and utterly incapable of seeing the religious viewpoint (that the existence of purpose requires avoiding the fulfillment of certain desires), they rather, just as ignorantly and closed-mindedly as any religious person, start with their own unproven presupposition (that humanity is purposeless), then illogically and irrationally use this to “prove” that homosexual marriage is an inalienable right.
You cannot prove something using an unproven supposition, whether you are religious or liberal. The religious cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “wrong”, and the liberal cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “right”, since the root of the disagreement is in whether humanity has a purpose or not, something about which there is no hard evidence, whether to prove it or disprove it.
Therefore in a democratic society where both religious and irreligious people live side-by-side, instead of turning the matter into a barbaric scuffle filled with hatred, calls for blood and utter lack of empathy for the other, it should be settled democratically. The religious believe that it harms humanity’s purpose to practice homosexual marriage or tolerate it, the irreligious do not believe this. If the society is democratic, then each has the right to work for what they believe to be right like civilized humans, rather than like quarreling schoolchildren.
Those who support homosexual marriage will say that it is their inalienable right to enjoy the type of marriage they choose, what right does society have to dictate things for them? Society dictates many things on people to prevent things it considers harmful. If God exists and dislikes homosexual marriage and punishes those who engage in it, and if the spread of homosexual marriage means that society will tolerate it more, so that more of the children of the religious will be influenced by it and perhaps engage in it, then it logically follows that the religious should oppose homosexual marriage for the good of their children and societies.
You could say that the spread of homosexual marriage will not affect the choices of the religious, since they are free what they do. But that’s like saying the spread of child pornography and rape pornography is OK since people are free whether they actually molest children or rape people. Most people, including liberals, are opposed to the toleration of child pornography and rape pornography because they think it “normalizes” these things and makes it more likely for people to engage in them. The exact same logic applies to homosexual marriage; tolerating it normalizes it, which makes it more likely for people to engage in it. If the behavior is harmless, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the religious consider it harmful.
Therefore the religious opposition to homosexuality is not illogical; It is based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans have a purpose, i.e. that God exists and commands things), while the liberal position is also based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans are purposeless, that God does not exist or that He does not command things or certain things).
Therefore while as a liberal you have the right to work for what you consider your rights, you’d be wrong to think that an opposition to gay marriage is illogical or irrational, it uses the same methods you use (logic that starts with an unproven supposition) to reach the conclusion that gay marriage should be prohibited. If the religious are illogical and irrational for basing their thinking on an unproven supposition, you too are illogical and irrational for basing your thinking on an unproven supposition.
One could go on to say that the burden of proof is on the religious to prove that there is any validity to religious thinking, that the starting point of human rationality is irreligion, therefore an irreligious supposition (that humans are purposeless) does not require proof, while a religious supposition (that humans have purpose) requires proof.
This argument is incorrect because rationalism does not begin at irreligion, but at a state of confusion that seeks answers, which may either lead to religion or irreligion. There is much soft evidence to direct one toward religion, as I explain in my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, while there are also things that make one doubt the validity of religion, such as the fact that there is no hard evidence for it.
Therefore the two positions are equal; whether you presuppose the existence of purpose when you oppose homosexual marriage, or you presuppose its lack when you support homosexual marriage, you are performing exactly the same logical exercise. You either adopted religion and used it to derive principles, or you adopted irreligion and used it to derive principles.
The liberals and and the religious both started at the same place (confusion), were exposed to the world and its experiences, then used their rational brains to arrive at differing conclusions. From a moral and ethical standpoint, liberals have no right to belittle certain humans for using their rational brains to arrive at conclusions that differ from theirs. If they respected human rights, human dignity, ethics and the democratic process, they would respectfully disagree with the religious instead of dehumanizing them.
As the (atheist) writer Terry Pratchett says, evil starts when people are treated as things. If it is evil to dehumanize gay people, it is also evil to dehumanize those who oppose gay marriage. Gays and those who oppose gay marriage are both humans, and a fair-minded person will never forget this humanity and the respect and kindness it necessitates.
I consider the whole issue of gay marriage a symptom of the West’s decline, rather than a cause. It is exactly the same as the issue of sex outside of marriage. Christians who themselves engage in sex outside of marriage and other mortal sins (like usury) cannot help but appear as utter hypocrites when they oppose gay marriage.
The gay marriage issue is very useful, as it helps distract attention away from society’s actual problems. If half of the country is foaming at the mouth with anger as they support or oppose gay marriage, they will have little time and energy to critique the utter corruption of their governments, the fact that the banks control their economies, the fact that a few people own and control most of their country’s major media outlets.
And to a neo-Marxist leftist (which is what most of the people who run the mainstream media and academia are), the gay marriage issue is useful in driving wedges into society, making one section fight another, and reaping power and profit from the process; delegitimizing religion and religious institutions and making their own ideologies replace them, making themselves the heroes of the supposedly oppressed, and enforcing a militant culture of political correctness where no one dares to oppose them and stand up to them. They are the good ones, after all, and if you disagree you are a bad, bad non-human!
It is the Marxist project all over again, making one section of society hate the other (workers against capitalists, women against men, minorities against whites, LGBT against the religious), and reaping immense power and profit from the process, with zero concern for the lives destroyed, the decay in manners, the utter lack of respect for ethics, the dehumanization and promotion of hatred and violence against millions of innocent people. If millions suffer in the process, let God sort them out; almost no one remembers the 11 million innocent Christian men, women and children murdered by the Marxists. If our new Marxists do the same in promoting the dehumanization of millions of people and violence toward them, who cares as long as they get to gain power, influence, fame and outrageous salaries as pundits, non-profit executives, academic bureaucrats and career victims?
Why does God oppose homosexuality and gay marriage?
If you are interested in the technical reasons why religion opposes gay marriage (i.e. we know that God doesn’t like homosexuality, but why is this so?), see my essay On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims. While this essay is written from an Islamic perspective, the reasons why Islam opposes gay marriage are similar to the reasons why Christians do it.