[Robert George]…was responding to two tendencies, I think: 1) that of some conservatives to retreat into analysis, and particularly historical genealogy, when faced with a cultural and political challenge; and 2) that of some of them to find the problem in a force that can’t be resisted, like the Enlightenment roots of the American founding, which justifies disengagement from a battle we can’t win. He calls this defeatism.
I’m not so hopeful as Robby. He has greater faith than I do in the American people and the force of public reason.
He may, for example, think the natural law arguments for marriage as it has been understood to be more publically compelling than I do. We have an instinctive sense of the natural law, as St. Paul noted, but our recognition of what is natural can be neutralized. You may see that men and women are made for union with each other, but if you understand marriage as primarily an affective relation, as most Americans do, you’ll have no strong reason to oppose same-sex marriage. If your society has for decades separated sexual intimacy from the creation of children, you’ll find it easier to accept intrinsically sterile marriages, especially as children can be provided in other ways.
I hope Robby’s right about the possibilities for success, though I don’t think he is. I still agree with him that we must stand up and bear witness.