First, let me be clear. Marriage cannot be reinvented. I use that term because it’s the closest I can think of to describe what is happening in our nation. There is an attempt to make marriage something it isn’t. In fact, marriage cannot even be defined, only described.
But of course we live in a land in which we must necessarily define things. It’s the way our world is ordered, and so we must come up with some definition of what marriage is. The closer we come to defining it to match reality, the better for the common good.
This week, more movement took place on the marriage issue as it is playing out in our country and among our states. I’m sure you’ve heard. Some would say it’s a movement forward; others, back.
Today, I want to zero in on something many seem to be missing, but that Bill May brings to light in his well-reasoned booklet, “Getting the Marriage Conversation Right;” that is, the raw implications of reinventing marriage.
While I know this is a contentious issue, my aim is to discuss using reason and calm. I think this is possible; I’m an optimist. The truth is that by ignoring reality, we are all – every last one of us – setting ourselves up for regret.
There are two definitions being purported. One is based on reality and has as its end the flourishing of society. It is child-centric. The other is based on the notion that marriage is a right that should be offered to all, and has as its end the temporary happiness of whomever falls in love. It is adult-centric.
If the latter definition becomes the law of the land, the former definition must necessarily be relegated to a spot in the corner. But that doesn’t mean we won’t pay a very heavy price for embracing the version that’s based on non-reality.
If the adult-centric version of marriage holds, it will no longer be possible for schools to teach marriage between one man and woman. In fact, it will no longer be possible for anyone to hold this ideal without being punished, either overtly or otherwise.
Bottom line, we will not be able to, as a society, promote the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers. Which means children will suffer, and with them, our entire society.
Those who say both definitions can be allowed have not thought it through. There’s only room for one as a working definition. So necessarily, if anyone who deems themselves worthy of it, and feels a right to it, can marry civilly, then anyone who has eyes to see marriage in reality will be scorned.
Proponents of reinventing marriage tout tolerance. But how is denying reality tolerant? How is forcing people who see marriage for what it is to accept an untruth a positive? How is that just? How does it serve the common good? How will it be good for children if we completely eliminate their connection to marriage? Once we overlook the rights of children, we are putting our entire society at risk.
I guess I’d like those who are standing up for the reinvented model to explain how they plan to be compassionate and tolerant in reverse. I’d also like them to explain how they feel about holding fast to an idea of marriage that completely disregards the rights of children to be united with their mother and father.
I’ve been persecuted for broaching this topic. I’ve been misunderstood. I’ve been called names. That’s okay. I’d prefer we have a civil discussion if possible, and I welcome that. But the above questions need to be answered. In any thoughtful society, all the angles must be explored. And I’m afraid we are overlooking some of the big ones.
In the end, the only real question we need to answer is this: Do we need a civil institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers or not? If not, why not? That’s it. It all comes down to that. Because here’s the thing. We’re well on our way to making that very important institution non-existent in legal terms. And I see that as a very grave move.
Can we think this through in a way that is not short-sighted? Can we look beyond our emotions and see reality? I hope so. It’s vital we do.
Q4U: Do we need a civil institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers? If not, why not?