Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sometimes love just ain't enough

One of the major arguments I've heard in favor of Prop. 8 is that people should be able to marry the one they love.

Love is wonderful - but I disagree that love is all it takes to create a marriage.

If love and companionship were sufficient to define marriage, then there would be no reason to deny "marriage" to unions of a child and an adult, or an adult child and his or her aging parent, or to groups rather than couples. Love and companionship are usually considered integral to marriage in our culture, but they are not sufficient to define it as an institution.

Widening the definition of marriage opens a Pandora's box. If it's all about love, then why can't adults marry children, if both consent? Why outlaw polygamy or polyandry? Leaving it to just a matter of love opens a wide gate. Marriage has never fundamentally been about just love - hence laws against marrying close relatives. It's a sociological institution that fosters perpetuating the species, and that can't be done naturally in a same-sex union.

In a ruling handed down June 26, 2003, the U. S. Supreme Court declared in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws (and any other laws restricting private sexual conduct between consenting adults) are unconstitutional. Some observers have suggested that this decision paves the way for same-sex "marriage." But in an ironic way, the Court's rulings that sex need not be (legally) confined to marriage undermines any argument that sex alone is a defining characteristic of marriage. Something more must be required.

The mere biological conception and birth of children are not sufficient to ensure the reproduction of a healthy, successful society. Paul Nathanson, a homosexual scholar, says that there are at least five functions that marriage serves -- things that every culture must do in order to survive and thrive. They are:

· Foster the bonding between men and women
· Foster the birth and rearing of children
· Foster the bonding between men and children
· Foster some form of healthy masculine identity
· Foster the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults

Marriage scholar Maggie Gallagher puts it more simply, saying that "children need mothers and fathers" and "marriage is the most practical way to get them for children."

Also, regarding the argument likening this to breaking down interracial marriage bans: this analogy is not valid at all. Bridging the divide of the sexes by uniting men and women is both a worthy goal and a part of the fundamental purpose of marriage, common to all human civilizations.

Laws against interracial marriage, on the other hand, served only the purpose of preserving a social system of racial segregation. This was both an unworthy goal and one utterly irrelevant to the fundamental nature of marriage.

Allowing a black woman to marry a white man does not change the definition of marriage, which requires one man and one woman. Allowing two men or two women to marry would change that fundamental definition. Banning the "marriage" of same-sex couples is therefore essential to preserve the nature and purpose of marriage itself.

Hat tip: the Family Research Council's Q&A about why same-sex marriage shouldn't be legal.

For more information go to


FS Carrie said...

There's no question that it's redefining marriage, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. We need to decide whether re-defining marriage is a good idea, and I think it is.

The idea that children are best raised with a mother and father (though questionable, in my opinion) doesn't prove much. Are we saying that by allowing homosexuals to marry, children will be taken from their heterosexual parents? More adopted children will find homes, rather than languishing in foster care, but they won't be taken from heterosexual parents by the fact that homosexual men and women can marry.

Further, I wouldn't care if relatives could marry. Marriage, as you say, isn't simply about romance. It's a legal institution that sets up certain rights between two people. If you want to form that partnership with your sister, I sure don't care.

I think marriage is very special and wonderful, and I love love. But I don't see any reason for the state to step in and stop anyone from marrying, who wants to (provided we can all agree that they are of the ability to consent, which children are not considered to be). Why NOT re-define marriage?

stephen said...

First of all, it's crazy that the Mormon church, who practiced polygamy and still would if it weren't for tremendous social pressure, is now the marriage police.

And I don't buy the Pandora's Box/slippery slope argument because with gay marriage we're talking about a consensual, responsible relationship between adults. Just like I have with my wife.

You compared it to interracial marriage, so it's fair game. Not long ago, the church was adamantly against interracial marriage. It still discourages it.

I understand the ideal of a mom, dad, and kids, but in the real world, there are single moms, single dads, grandparents raising grandkids, and more. And you can't tell me people always marry to have children. They don't. My point is that in the real world, what makes a family is love, work, tears, hugs, and time. Gay or straight, it's the same formula.

Jer said...

"I don't see any reason for the state to step in and stop anyone from marrying, who wants to (provided we can all agree that they are of the ability to consent, which children are not considered to be). Why NOT re-define marriage?"

Because the people as a majority don't want it. This was already voted on, and the people spoke their minds. Then the courts (or Government, as you put it), overturned the decision.

Why does our society have a problem with people wanting to group themselves together? Why must we all be the "same"? I know that marriage is now considered simply a legal arrangement, but it was first and foremost a religious institution. Is there a reason that the heterosexual community needs to give up something that defines them as separate?

I don't propose that we take away anyone's legal rights, but I do think that the government (in this case, judges) should not be allowed to "step in and stop" the voice of the people. I do believe that it is OK for groups of like-minded people to have institutions of their own.

FS Carrie said...

The original purpose of marriage was a property issue. Defending it would mean believing your wife is your property. I would hope we've come further than that.

Judges ruled that this is unconstitutional, because marriage (as a legal agreement) is not a religious matter. You can still be married in a church, and have a marriage based on your faith. Two people of the same sex getting married does not impede on your rights. Your defense of marriage as sexually specific does impede on theirs.

Jer said...

No, it doesn't. California law holds that domestic partnerships have the same legal privileges and rights as married couples. Changing the definition of marriage removes my religious right to something seperate.

FS Carrie said...

you're assuming, then, that marriage is religious. If it is only religious, then the state can't control it. Only your religion can. This only affects the legal definition. Your church can proceed as it always has. Is it that threatening to you, to have a gay couple call their union by the same name as yours?

Anonsent said...

Since it is now legal for gay couples to get married, Prop 8 would say that they can not. Hence you are now taking the right for them to be "MARRIED" and saying it is just a business contract. Since all men are created equal, why not let all men equally marry.

Also if my wife leaves me, she gets half my stuff. Not the same for Bob and Tom in the civil union. This would make it fair and now my gay friends can complain about spousal support, that's equality.