20 September 2010

The Case For Marriage: National Review Article Makes A Strong One

at Catholic Online

The September 20th edition of National Review magazine contains an editorial called “The Case for Marriage” that is, in my humble opinion, one of the best I’ve ever read on why our society needs to protect – rather than redefine – the institution of marriage.

This reasoned and objective article wastes no time getting right to the point:

NR: “If it is true, as we are constantly told, that American law will soon redefine marriage to accommodate same-sex partnerships, the proximate cause for this development… will be that the most influential Americans, particularly those in law and the media, have been coming increasingly to regard opposition to same-sex marriage as irrational at best and bigoted at worst.”

Setting aside the drama currently mucking up the issue, isn’t it prudent to consider the merits of the case?

NR: “But we should first consider whether the historic and cross-cultural understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman really has so little to be said for it.”

Indeed.  Before we just pitch marriage out the window in an emotional ballyhoo, let’s stop for a moment and put our thinking caps on.  I believe we’ll discover the case for marriage is much stronger than its remodelers care to admit.

NR: “We think there is quite a bit to be said for it: that it is true, vitally true.  But it is a truth so long accepted that it is no longer well understood.  Both the fact that we are debating same-sex marriage and the way that debate has progressed suggest that many of us have lost sight of why marriage exists in the first place as a social institution and a matter of public policy.”

So what is marriage for?  The emotional fulfillment of the people involved?  To ensure people have someone to care for them in sickness and old age?  No.  Yes, marriage is an emotional union and yes, it encourages spouses to care for one another til the end, but the real reason for marriage is far more “other-oriented.”

NR: “So at the risk of awkwardness, we must talk about the facts of life…The reason marriage exists is that the sexual intercourse of men and women regularly produces children.”

It’s about the children.  It’s about the family.

NR:  “Marriage exists, in other words, to solve a problem that arises from sex between men and women but not from sex between partners of the same gender: what to do about its generativity.  It has always been the union of a man and a woman…for the same reason that there are two sexes:  It takes one of each in our species to perform the act that produces children…the institution is oriented toward child-rearing.”

“What a healthy marriage culture does is encourage adults to arrange their lives so that as many children as possible are raised and nurtured by their biological parents in a common household.  That is also what a sound law of marriage does.”

It is rightly pointed out that our society today is overflowing with broken homes where children are not residing with both parents in a common household.  (This is not an argument in favor of further altering marriage, but a clarion call to rebuild the family as it should be – father, mother and children together.)  One of the many undesirable effects of this is that now the government must be more involved than ever in the lives of children.  Courts assume greater and greater responsibility for children’s welfare the more our marriage culture crumbles.  For anyone desiring less government intrusion in their lives, this alone should be a great reason to encourage a return to a child-oriented view of marriage.

NR:  “Our culture already lays too much stress on marriage as an emotional union of adults and too little on it as the right environment for children.  Same-sex marriage would not only sever the tie between marriage and procreation; it would, at least in our present cultural circumstances, place the law behind the proposition that believing that tie should exist is bigoted.”

As NR goes on to say to those who object that it is unfair to tie marriage to procreation,
“Harm, if any, to the feelings of same-sex couples is unintentional:  Marriage, and its tie to procreation, did not arise as a way of slighting them.” 

Marriage must not be required to morph into an expression of the ever-changing feelings of society. A married father and mother is what our children need and deserve and what we are obligated by God to give them to the very best of our ability.  We know this is God’s perfect and loving plan for humanity because Christ Himself came to us as a child, born into a home with a father and a mother.  God has unequivocally declared the family unit to be holy and worthy.

Finally, the truth the marriage remodelers least want to hear is that redefining marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would require accommodating nearly every other conceivable partnership or group.

NR:  “The argument that same-sex marriage cannot be justified without also, in principle, justifying polygamy and polyamory infuriates many advocates of the former.  There is, however, no good answer to the charge; and the arguments and especially the rhetoric of same-sex marriage proponents clearly apply with equal force to polygamy and polyamory.”

“Legal recognition of same-sex marriage would make the countervailing norms, and the public policy of marriage itself, incoherent.  The symbolic message of inclusion for same-sex couples – in an institution that makes no sense for them – would be coupled with another message:  that marriage is about the desires of adults rather than the interests of children.”

Exactly.  Serving the good of the next generation has become almost passé in our culture that lives for self-satisfaction, pleasure and immediate gratification.  It’s why we are so willing to justify the killing of our babies in the womb.  We have forgotten that the focus of our lives as adults should be those to come after us along with those who already surround us looking for guidance and protection.  We think too little of the future and too much of the present.

NR:  “If our understanding of marriage changes in this way, so much the worse for the future.”

You'll want to read this excellent article in its entirety.  I don’t know how the lawyers defending marriage in court are arguing their case, but I sincerely hope they read this astute analysis and take copious notes.

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