On marriage

April 23, 2009

This time I won’t just link, I’ll comment:

Let Gays Have Marriage; We’re Not Using It.

The point here (which I agree with) is that we wouldn’t be hearing all this stuff about same sex marriage if our society didn’t already have incorrect ideas about marriage. We have to get the real thing right if we’re going to defend it against the fakes.

The Men Have Muffed It: How Men’s Misunderstanding of the Telos of Marriage Imperils Its Future

Sis. Smith linked to this approvingly, but the more I think about it the more I can’t go along with it. If marriage has a unique telos (why can’t it have multiple purposes?) it’s to help us become like our heavenly parents. The quotes from general authorities on equality in marriage never say that’s the purpose (or even a purpose) of marriage, just a necessity if you’re going to do it correctly. If we’re looking for a purpose for marriage, “unity from complementary opposites” comes closer than “gender equality.”

Procreation is an important purpose of marriage too, but arguments about who is fertile and so on miss the point. Humans are not just biological organisms, we’re cultural and social and emotional and spiritual beings too. It’s fairly obvious that marriage is not required for mere biological reproduction; but the universal experience of the human race is that it provides the environment most likely to produce fully realized human beings. Childless couples contribute to this purpose by helping establish marriage as a cultural norm.

I have yet to see an argument for same sex marriage that was not totally focused on the “rights” of the people entering into the relationship, ignoring the way marriage creates ties, obligations, and responsibilities to many other people and to society as a whole. When Julia and I married I became related to her family and vice versa, and I committed to accepting responsibility for her and for them and for any children we might have. One of the reasons marriage has become such a weak institution is our selfish focus on what we get out of it.

So that’s the main thing I wanted to say. A few side notes:

She asked the great scholar why women should support traditional marriage when its history has been the oppression, in general, of women.

This question fails to distinguish use from misuse. It’s almost like asking “why should I keep matches in my house when they’ve been used so often to commit arson?” I see no reason to believe that women would be oppressed any less if we didn’t have marriage, and I believe the history of oppression of women would have been much worse without it.

And because I’m the kind of person who cares about such things, I have to say that whoever designed the markup for that Square Two site needs to learn some things about HTML. A good starting point would be A Dao of Web Design by John Allsopp, or reading Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman.


2 Responses to “On marriage”

  1. Annette Says:

    Thanks for the links; some interesting thoughts! I agree with you…I’ve never thought the main purpose of marriage was to promote gender equality! Equal partnership is just the right way to do marriage (and promoting gender equality is a nice side result). I like your way of putting it: “unity from complementary opposites”. I’ve always thought of marriage as something that helps us a lot on the road to becoming more like Heavenly Father. Sure, we can get back to Him without a helpmeet (I’ve known plenty of unmarried people who were much further up that road than I am), but it’s just a lot easier with a partner! Not to mention that learning to cooperate, love, forgive, and be unselfish just goes with the territory if you want a successful marriage. Aren’t those all “God like” qualities?

  2. mom Says:

    Very good points.

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