Posted by: Mike | July 13, 2013

More Than Love: A Time for Soul-Searching on Marriage

The debate over same-sex marriage is a much-needed one in our country because it is not an isolated issue. In many ways, this debate is taking place in the public square precisely because heterosexuals have already redefined marriage by their own actions. Over the past 40 years we have seen children removed from the definition of marriage, with couples making every effort to sterilize their union and have as few children as possible, if at all. Sex has been removed, it is no longer considered an act reserved for the marital union and is promoted as acceptable between any adults under any pretense as long as they consent. Finally, life-long commitment has been removed, with a divorce rate of 50% and the rise of “no-fault” divorce the oath “until death do us part” has lost its meaning.heart-lonely

When you remove children, sex, and life-long commitment from marriage, what is left? The feeling of being loved.

Marriage has been reduced to the feeling of being loved and anyone can feel loved by anybody…or anything. This is why some are also now calling for polygamy and a man in Japan petitioned the government to allow marriage with a fictional manga character. The reduction of marriage to a degree of love, as opposed to a type of love with function and purpose, is a significant reason why the divorce rate has skyrocketed and every metric of relationship stability and satisfaction has declined over that same amount of time. “Love” is too nebulous a concept to be the firm basis of any institution. Certainly the emotive experience of love is part of marriage but there are myriad types of human relationship that possess love without constituting a marriage. So, before we begin the conversation about who can and can’t marry, both sides of this debate need to first define marriage. What act is specifically, and uniquely, “marital” and cannot be found in any other type of relationship?

Proponents of natural marriage have an answer to that question – at least on paper despite a poor track record of living it out – which also offers the primary justification for the government’s involvement. Generally speaking, the government should not concern itself with our relationships, who we are dating, our Facebook friends, etc. (or at least before Prism). The only reason why the government has a vested interest in marriage is because it is the only relationship capable of creating another citizen. The new life this unique relationship creates possesses his/her own rights which warrant protection and, until a certain age, they are incapable of defending these rights in the face of neglect, abuse, or even the dissolution of their family.

Furthermore, all sociological data continues to support the fact that the best environment for a child’s development is to be in a loving household composed of their mother and their father. It is true that children are very resilient and can flourish in other arrangements but not a single alternative arrangement has been proven to be more beneficial to a child than that of their natural family. This is neither by accident nor coincidence any more than the pressing of a gas pedal causing a car to accelerate is accidental or coincidental. It happens by design. Love is the very foundation of life; every single one of us is designed to exist as the fruit of love and we need not look any further than the emotional harm and emptiness people wrestle with when they are denied this design – most especially children of divorce. Why would we not focus more on what’s best for our children instead of how many different arrangements they can survive through?

So, lest we get lost in heated rhetoric and emotional red herrings that only serve as distractions, we must begin with that fundamental question: What is marriage? This is not a question of who loves whom more, or who is more committed than whom, because “love” and “commitment” are virtues to be expected in all human relationships. What makes marriage uniquely different? This is a question both sides of the debate need to take more seriously, especially with an unacceptable divorce rate of 50%, and I believe the answer will ultimately benefit us all.

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