So, the skeptic’s position is ultimately incoherent. But rhetorically he has an advantage. With every move you try to make, he can simply refuse to concede the assumptions you need in order to make it, leaving you constantly scrambling to find new footing. He will in the process be undermining his own position too, because his skepticism is so radical it takes down everything, including what he needs in order to make his position intelligible. But it will be harder to see this at first, because he is playing offense and you are playing defense. It falsely seems that you are the one making all the controversial assumptions whereas he is assuming nothing. Hence, while your position is in fact rationally superior, it is the skeptic’s position that will, perversely, appear to be rationally superior. People bizarrely give him the benefit of the doubt and put the burden of proof on you.
This, I submit, is the situation defenders of traditional sexual morality are in vis-à-vis the proponents of “same-sex marriage.” The liberal position is a kind of radical skepticism, a calling into question of something that has always been part of common sense, viz. that marriage is inherently heterosexual. Like belief in the reality of the external world — or in the reality of the past, or the reality of other minds, or the reality of change, or any other part of common sense that philosophical skeptics have challenged — what makes the claim in question hard to justify is not that it is unreasonable, but, on the contrary, that it has always been regarded as a paradigm of reasonableness. Belief in the external world (or the past, or other minds, or change, etc.) has always been regarded as partially constitutive of rationality. Hence, when some philosophical skeptic challenges it precisely in the name of rationality, the average person doesn’t know what to make of the challenge. Disoriented, he responds with arguments that seem superficial, question-begging, dogmatic, or otherwise unimpressive. Similarly, heterosexuality has always been regarded as constitutive of marriage. Hence, when someone proposes that there can be such a thing as same-sex marriage, the average person is, in this case too, disoriented, and responds with arguments that appear similarly unimpressive.
So, things look pretty bad. But like the defender of our commonsense belief in the external world, the opponent of “same-sex marriage” has at least one reliable ally on his side: reality. And reality absolutely always wins out in the end. It always wins at least partially even in the short run — no one ever is or could be a consistent skeptic — and wins completely in the long run. The trouble is just that the enemies of reality, though doomed, can do a hell of lot of damage in the meantime.
(Do go read the whole thing!)
And remember, kids: argue with vigor when you need to argue – argue to win – but remember we are dealing with wounded souls like ourselves, who, like us, are inclined to lash out in their pain, and need love, no matter how hard they make it on us to love them. So it is much more important to be patient, kind and gentle, to turn the other cheek, as we endure our little sufferings, than it is to ‘win’ an argument. (I’m mostly talking to myself here, for sure.)