Even though we do not have all of his writings today, it is safe to assert that Aristotle never wrote anything against same-sex marriage (let alone in favor of such a notion). That is because Aristotle knew how to think, and systematized the rules of thought for all subsequent generations. And it is to Aristotle’s schema
to which we must return, if we are to achieve clarity on what is illogical about all proposals to “allow” same-sex marriages—whether celebrated in a civil or a religious ceremony.
As this excellent article by Robin Phillips
reminds us, Aristotle distinguished between the essential
properties of a thing, and its accidental
properties. To change Mr. Phillips’ illustration of the differences a bit: consider the properties of an apple. Its greenness would not be an essential property, because an apple may also be red, or yellow, or many shades in between, and it would still be an apple. So greenness is an accidental
property of apples.
On the other hand, we could not have an apple that was without malic acid
, whose very name derives from the Latin word (malum
) for “apple.” It defines an apple’s tartness, and is the acid which is found naturally occurring in all forms of an apple. So one may say, using Aristotle’s schema,
that having malic acid is an essential
property of an apple, just as having citric acid would be an essential property of a lemon, or a lime.
Now take this analysis one step further, as does Mr. Phillips in the article just linked. One may easily speak of a red, yellow, or green apple—but one could not comprehensibly speak of a “citric apple,” or of a “malic orange.” If the essential properties of a thing are those that define its essence, its very being, then to ascribe those properties to something else entirely is to create nonsense, and engender verbal (and hence mental) confusion.
And this is what all the proponents of so-called “same-sex marriage” are doing. For them, gender complementarity (male and female partners) is simply an accidental,
and not an essential,
property of what we call “marriage.” So the adjective “same-sex” in front of the term “marriage” tells us no more than something about the partners which comprise it, and in their view does not render the concept illogical or incomprehensible.
For advocates of such a view, it is possible to speak of a current “ban” on same-sex marriage in certain States because those States do not permit such marriages under their laws. But—hold on a minute, and consider this issue as Aristotle would have. In speaking of a “ban” on gay marriage, there is already a hidden assumption made by the speaker: namely, that there is indeed such a thing
as same-sex marriage, and that it would be possible to have it exist in certain States, did they not legally prohibit it.
Aristotle would not let any such spokesperson get away without articulating that hidden assumption, and without asking him to defend its validity. In order to do so, however, the spokesperson would have to show that gender complementarity is not an essential,
but only an accidental, property of marriage.