Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gay Marriage and the Survival of the Institution

Old Post: My last post on the Federal Marriage Amendment is here.

One of the arguments against gay marriage is that by redefining marriage you weaken the institution. Those in favor of gay marriage argue that gay marriage won't do any more harm to the institution of marriage than heterosexual divorce has already done. To which the response is that since marriage is already in such bad shape, why in the world whould you want to deliver the coup de grace?

I have two reasons to oppose gay marriage:

1. Religious: In the Bible, God clearly defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman, so that's what it is. You may call something else "marriage," but that doesn't make it one. That doesn't prevent the state from calling something else marriage (and indeed they do), but this is only a legal definition, and doesn't make it so in God's eyes or mine.

2. Process: It is up to the state legislatures to decide how to define legal marriage (this does not affect the spiritual truth one way or another), not the courts or city mayors. Since aside from the spiritual aspect, the social aspect of marriage is the main effect, it is important that the legal definition of marriage follow the social definition, and thus be decided by the elected representatives.

To be honest, the survival of marriage argument never did much for me. Orthodox churches will continue to define marriage by the Biblical definition, they will continue to encourage marriage within their congregations, and they will continue to marry only those who meet the religious definition. That doesn't mean that marriage can't be damaged in society as a whole, just that it can't be killed as long as Americans are a religious people.

Still, the idea is to strengthen, not weaken, marriage, and I think the most damaging thing to marriage today is no-fault divorce. It's hard to imagine that the existence of gay marriage will do more harm than that. I'll give you a couple of guesses as to who gave us no-fault divorce. Hint: it wasn't the religious or social conservatives. It was largely the same people and groups who are now pushing for gay marriage. A cynic might think they were trying to harm marriage or something, but assuming that's not the case, and that the gays who want to marry have a vested interest in making marriage a stronger institution, I have a proposal: If you'll help me repeal no-fault divorce, I'll help you get gay marriage. We'll put them both in the same bill before the state legislatures. Yes, from my perspective, changing the legal definition doesn't really make it marriage, but sure, you can call it that, and in the process we'll be cementing the marriages which meet the definition.

New Post: Thoughts on President Bush's tactics here.

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