Every time I read about a proposed state or Constitutional ban on gay marriage, I am mystified. Both the Pope and President Bush have spoken out against legalizing the unions of same-sex couples as a threat to the “sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia even warned that dignifying homosexual unions could lead to legalized masturbation. I didn’t even know it was illegal.
In Biblical times, a man’s importance was judged by the number of wives and concubines he had. The purpose of marriage was not to share one’s life with a loved and respected partner, but to acquire property and produce as many sons as possible to till the fields and fight enemies. Men who had no sons acquired them through marrying off their daughters, thus acquiring sons-in-law.
Sons, being male, were the only progeny that mattered. Not only because they were the only ones who could legally inherit land, but because they were the ones whose “seed” contained other sons. Knowing that every plant seed contained a miniature flower or tree that grew in size when it was planted, it seemed logical to primitive societies that people grew the same way. Every ancient culture believed that man-seeds were in a man’s ejaculate, little fully formed miniature men. Since all seeds had to be planted in order to grow, man-seeds had to be planted too, and the only medium in which man-seeds would grow was a woman’s womb. If man-seeds were “spilled” or planted in any other medium, all the little men in the seeds would die.
Which brings us to the fear of same-sex marriage. Or Scalia’s fear of masturbation. In Biblical times, a man who masturbated or planted his seeds in another man, or who, like Onan, used withdrawal as a form of birth control, was guilty of murder. That was the “sin.” Not homosexuality or masturbation, but killing all the little men in the ejaculate.
Which is why, Scalia notwithstanding, there has never been, in any religion, an injunction against women masturbating. There has never been, in any of the world’s religions, an injunction against women having homosexual contact. In harems and concubine quarters, nobody cared what women did because they didn’t have any miniature man seeds.
Several thousand years have passed since those beliefs were common, yet we still speak of a woman “having a man’s baby,” and in some places in the world, women are still considered little more than soil in which to plant male sperm. In those places, bans against same-sex marriage make misguided sense. What mystifies me is why anybody who has a smidgen of knowledge of biology would think they make sense here. Being heterosexual, if somebody of the same sex wants to marry me, I’ll just say no. I don’t know why Bush and the Pope can’t do that too. As for Scalia’s fears of masturbation, I think he’s beyond any advice I could give him.