The Corner

More on David Blankenhorn

David’s change of heart on gay marriage is the subject of my weekly newsletter (a version also appears in Public Discourse).

It’s very difficult to respond to him intellectually because he says he has not changed his mind about the fact that gay marriage represents a step in the de-institutionalization of marriage. He stands by his Proposition 8 testimony. He’s not recanting. He has just lost hope that fighting gay marriage can be part of a strategy for strengthening marriage. He’s left with the hope that somehow if he concedes gay marriage he will be in a strong position to address his core concerns about fatherless America.

My takeaway:

The lessons gay marriage advocates will take from David Blankenhorn’s “conversion”?

They will learn what they know: stigma and hatred directed at people who disagree with them work.

What lesson should we take? What lesson do I take?

The first is that no-one can fight alone. To stand up to the wall of hatred directed our way, we need each other. And we need the larger sense of community that faith uniquely provides.

The second is that as we fight for the good, we must never respond to hatred with hatred, to exclusion with the desire to exclude.

David Blankenhorn is my friend and I love him. I also respect him. I understand what he just did and why he did it and I wish him well in his personal fight to somehow square the circle, to combine a culture of gay marriage with a renewed culture of marriage.

“Sometimes it’s important to stand down a bit from the purity of one’s position in the interest of comity. We need to live together here. Sometimes it’s not being chickenhearted or selling out … You can compromise a bit from the purity of one’s position in the interest of accommodating a broader spectrum of people in the society as kind of full members. You know? You can bend a little bit because we have to live together.”

Yes we do.

But here’s what I want to say to David and to you: a comity that is bought by surrendering principle is submission, not comity at all. The truth about something as important as marriage cannot be the price we pay to live with each other.

The challenge of our time—and it is a deep challenge, not an easy one—is to find new ways to combine truth and love.

Giving up marriage is too high a price to pay.

And it is not the last good we will be asked to surrender, unless we find the courage to stand.

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