I quote it all the time, here and elsewhere, but here once more are the closing lines of G.K. Chesterton’s Heretics:
The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.
Why is it appropriate this time?
Because Berlingske Tidende has run an editorial in support of marriage.
Not gay marriage. Not straight marriage. Just the institution of two people coming together in a vow of life-long loyalty.
Because it is now a reasonable position to denigrate the institution of marriage and a mystical sanity to defend it.
The editorial, signed by Thomas Bernt Henriksen, is here.
It is fashionable to talk about committed communities—from a battle cry on the extreme left to slogans in companies that want to be progressive. We talk too little about what it actually means concretely.
We must therefore start by embracing what looks like the strongest committed community in society, namely two people making the decision to live together.
This ought to be the most superfluous editorial ever to have been published: the idea that marriage is an important institution ought to be about as contentious as the idea that babies are cute or sex is fun.
But ought is a dangerous word.
You can get a leftist to talk about communities of color; about the ever-changing alphabet community of sexual preferences, orientations, fetishes, and personality disorders; about communities of the marginalized, the disabled. About immigrant communities and indigenous communities.
But like most leftism today it’s entirely imaginary.
There’s no such thing as a “black community” in America, no “gay community” or “immigrant community.” There may be, here and there across the great sprawling wonderland of the United States, particular communities whose members are predominantly black, or gay, or disabled, or of Celtic descent, or believe themselves to have been abducted by aliens, but to speak of national communities of this sort is to obliterate the meaning of the word community.
Black Boston university professors have very little in common with black actors in Hollywood, black accountants in New York, black truck drivers in New Mexico, black journalists in Minneapolis, or black gang-bangers in Chicago. What social ties bind them together, what mutual obligations do they have to one another? They’re all black, okay, so what? I’m white. So are Joe Biden, Nicole Kidman, Charles Manson, Martha Stewart, and Peyton Manning. Our commonalities begin and end right there.
I have much more in common with black men like Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas than I do with white men like Michael Moore and Adam Schiff, just as I have more in common with gay men like David Rubin and Douglas Murray than I do with any straight leftist. But there aren’t even national “communities” of like-minded people.
Community begins at the hyper-local level, which is and has always been the family—and there is no family without two adults, usually but not necessarily a man and a woman, who have made a lifelong commitment to one another.
As Henriksen notes:
Marriage has nothing to do with religion. In the Danish church tradition, marriage is not a sacrament , i.e. a holy act. It is a partnership between two people based on mutual respect. The church wedding is only a blessing of a covenant that has already been made.
Neither church nor state can create a true marriage, they can only recognize one. And that’s something nearly every religion and state in recorded history has in fact done, because virtually every church and every state has understood that marriage is the lowest common denominator in social organizations. Secular and ecclesiastic wedding rites, rituals, and paperwork are just the larger institutions’ way of supporting the foundations on which they’re built.
Conversely, to work against the institution of marriage and the nuclear family is to dig away at that foundation.
And yet we seem to have reached a point where it’s necessary for a newspaper’s editorial board to sanction an opinion piece asserting that marriage is important.
On the one hand it’s refreshing to see marriage defended; that it needs to be is not a good sign.
If western civilization is going to survive—and I see very few signs that it’s even interested in doing so—then we need to rededicate ourselves to some foundational truths. We need to prioritize marriage as an institution. We need to get back to the business of bearing and raising children. We need to integrate ourselves and our families into our real communities: our neighborhoods, our towns. And we need to stop listening to the people who insist our “community” is determined not by the people closest to us, but the people who look the most like us or share our sexual appetites.
Reality is being canceled, erased, denied. All around us, every day.
Let us be of those “who have seen and yet have believed.”