She asked me, “Is a Rolex really that good?”
“Good for what?” I kidded.
She stuck out her tongue, having grown used to smart-aleck responses from me. But she got the point: a watch is good only when matched up with its purpose. If you need to drive a nail, it is decidedly not good.
What makes marriage good? The answer depends on its purpose.
As the federal court considers whether to recognize same-sex unions as marriages, it must presume upon a definition of marriage. A popular sentiment towards change says: “We should not judge someone because of who they love,” meaning feelings should define marriage apart from gender.
For most of human history, marriage has had a larger role than validating feelings. Governments have not regulated marriage for their interest in adult romance. A government’s role in marriage is to champion the common good by stabilizing unions which produce children. Marriage has been structured around an ideal which yields the most benefit to children: the commitment and role of the two people involved in bringing a child into this world.
At the very least, we have a conflict of values and a need for open discussion about about the purpose of marriage which does not appear to be part of settling the question.
Consider The Four Most Avoided Questions in this debate:
1. Is three still a crowd? If we redefine marriage to validate the romantic feelings of two adults, regardless of gender, then why not three? An article in The Atlantic, documents more than half a million polyamorous relationships in the U.S.
2. What’s next? If private feelings define marriage, on what basis can we continue to structure marriage as monogamous or “till death do we part?”
3. The end of taboo? If marriage is defined apart from the essential building-blocks of family (man, woman, child) on what basis may we deny same-sex siblings the right to marry?
4. Destructive? If you wanted to dismantle marriage, what would be the first step?
A Question of Fairness?
Aren’t same-sex couples denied benefits of marriage, like social security, healthcare, etc.? These issues do not require marriage to be resolved. And as Ryan Anderson (Heritage Foundation) points out, two sisters living in the same household as single women for most of their lives might also be afforded these rights.
Same-sex marriage advocates discount the link between marriage and children. They ask, “Should couples beyond child-bearing years be denied marriage? Even in such circumstances, marriage holds up the ideals that an older man direct his passions where he will not conceive fatherless children hither and yon.
What tips do you have for people of faith to be both gracious in disagreement and truthful according to conviction?