Skip to comments.Is Traditional Marriage Toast? (We've long sundered connection between marriage & childbearing)
Posted on 04/21/2013 10:11:30 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
Every discussion of gay marriage should begin with a recognition of its historical radicalness, its exceptionality. Heterosexual marriage has been the fundamental unit of human sociability for thousands of years, a common thread running through otherwise disjunctive cultures and wide-ranging ethnic diversity. Wherever one lands on the issue of same-sex marriage, there can be no gainsaying its extraordinariness.
Its also clear that same-sex marriage is a culmination of a long-brewing development, an unspooling of essential modern premises. The relentless logic of modernity is unrestrained individuality, the lonesome sovereignty of the singular person. The pith of matrimony is natural gregariousness, our completion as human beings through coupling. It was only a matter of time before the crashing tide of autonomy reached the shores of conjugal union, pitting the inviolability of the individual against the venerableness of the family. If anything, it is remarkable marriage has remained intact for so long, a testament to its profound allure even in a culture whose trends undermine it.
Traditionally, marriage wasnt conceived as a conjoining of two individuals, but rather of two families. It was neither an expression of individuality nor even a constraint upon it: Individuality was too abstract and deracinated a notion to demand chastening. In this way, marriage stands as a vestige of the premodern universe, a time when social dependence was accepted as the central feature of communal life.
If individuality is now our central political category, consent is our chief moral one. But historically, consent was not understood as the crux of marriage. If anything, marriage was interpreted as a limitation on consent since the bonds of marriage could not be consensually dissolved. And since marriages were arranged by heads of families, to the extent that marriage was an expression of consent at all, it was the consent of families and not individuals.
This historical context complicates the dispute for both sides. First, its not clear why gay activists are all that interested in marriage as traditionally understood. They often declaim against the tyranny of bourgeois morality and the arbitrariness of the sexual tethers it imposes. Why do they want access to an institution they consider a tired exhibition of antiquated prejudice?
The typical answer is they want that access in the interests of equality. This itself is not an uncomplicated demand; the insistence on equal rights presupposes equal conditions, or in other words that gay marriage is, in all relevant aspects, the same as traditional marriage. But do even the defenders of gay marriage believe this? Do they accept the centrality of monogamy to marriage? Do they understand the connubial relationship as sanctified by God, forever infrangible, sub specie aeternitatis?
And why does the gay community pine for governmental benediction of their relationships? Shouldnt they be against official or authoritative privileging of any union over another? The apparently irrepressible rationale of consent should legitimate any arrangement irrespective not only of gender but also number, purpose, and the like.
Why even assign special status to those who are serious? Isnt the inclination, on both sides, to exalt gravity a dogmatic discrimination? Presumably, two (or seven) persons could freely consent to wed light-heartedly. After all, this is the gravamen of Justice Anthony Kennedys opinion in Lawrence v. Texas: that the government has no right to ordain one autonomous relationship superior to another.
On the face of it, the argument for gay marriage almost seems conservative, in the sense that gays are seeking to participate in a conservative sacrament. But the thrust of gay marriage, powered by the exaltation of individuality and consent, leads to more libertarian conclusions, such as getting the government effectively out of the marriage business entirely. It could even point to an end to marriage itself, or to any conceptual corset that limits or certifies our irreducibly individual choices, that dares approve or regulate our social and libidinal impulses.
Gay marriage does not mean, at its core, equal access to marriage. It means the redefinition of marriage, its transvaluation. It means expanding and swelling marriage until it bursts at the seams, leaving something unrecognizable. For marriage is not really the prize, nor is equality. Behind the activist rhetoric of equal rights one sees the march of modernity itself, carrying its influence to one of the last quarters that stubbornly resist it.
The problem for defenders of traditional marriage is that marriage as we find it today isnt that traditional. It has already been decisively transformed by the advancement of modernitys twin ideals, individuality and consent. Divorce has become easy. Contraception, not gay marriage, sundered the connection between marriage and childbearing. Almost no one, even the staunchest defender of traditional marriage, thinks of it primarily as the union of two families.
And herein lies the problem in disentangling the knotty dispute of how to define marriage. Both parties to the debate tend to accept the cardinal elements of modern thought, which undermine traditional marriage. Both sides, when they unfurl their positions to their furthest reaches, end up with the libertarian retirement of marriage as an institution. They are fighting over a treasure neither truly understands nor wants. Whoever wins in the short term, traditional marriage may well be doomed.
The best hope for traditional marriage is that the current contest ignites searching reflection on its meaning and value as well as its tenuous residence in the house of modernity. In many respects, the United States has fared far better than Europe in at least forestalling what increasingly presents itself as inevitable. This provides some promise that within the American mind there resides the will thoughtfully to reconsider, and therefore to withstand, the otherwise thoughtless rejection of whatever wisdom our cultural inheritance contains.
Ivan Kenneally is editor in chief of Dailywitness.com.
Since most wedded couples are now united in this "modern," redefined, fragmented, deconstructed form of marriage ---"lite" marriage, in effect, gay marriage --- is it any wonder the gays want in?
Marriage died because fornication became acceptable enough to be the norm.
In societies where this hasn’t been the case, marriage is still strong.
Historically, marriage was never a “right”; it was an obligation two people undertook prior (ideally) to engaging in activities that could reasonably be expected to lead to children, for the purpose of maximizing the likelihood that said children would survive and become productive members of society.
Since there is nothing two members of the same sex can do that is likely to produce children, the very concept of homosexual “marriage” is null and void.
Every gay marriage that involves children will never be the product of the married couple. There will always have to be a third party involved and the legal compilations that this equation entails will dwarf the legal complications of traditional marriage.
We haven’t begun to imagine the legal scenarios of who is the real parent and who has jurisdiction over the raising of that child. Add to that inheritance law question.
The coming years will be a divorce lawyers dream.
“Marriage died because fornication became acceptable enough to be the norm.”
Don’t think quickie, ‘no-fault’ divorce didn’t have a lot to do with it also.
Most people today give getting married about as much thought as they do signing an auto lease. Heck, you can get out of either one of ‘em anytime you want to.
Saying marriage was an arrangement of families is correct some of the time but certainly not even a majority of the time.
I actually ended an argument with some gays by defining marriage as a breeding contract. I didn’t change their support for “gay marriage” but they sure shut the hell up when they realized my definition was completely unassailable and that “gay marriage” is actually impossible.
When people don’t understand the issue, I just tell them to get a copy of Romeo and Juliet, replace “Juliet” with “John” and read it. The play immediately becomes nonsense because there’s no justification for the objections of the two families to the relationship.
The conflict and drive of “Romeo and Juliet” isn’t about Romeo and Juliet, at all: it’s about their potential children and how those children being born will make two warring families one large family at war with itself.
Even gay activists can’t deny it.
Agreed. We conservatives sometimes focus too much on how homsexuals are “destroying marriage.” I am against gay marriage but there is a long, long list of things that have happened over the past 40 to 50 years that have struck blow after blow after blow against marriage. You mention some of them. I’d add:
1. The stigma against living together and having children out of wedlock is gone.
2. Its easy to get married and easy to get divorced. You can hop on a plane to Vegas and get married and then get a “no fault” divorce for any reason or no reason at all.
3. Marriage is defined as an expression of love for someone rather than the creation of a family unit. This is more toxic than we think. If all marriage is is something you do when you really love someone, then why shouldn’t gays do it too?
Oh, and lets not forget the availability of cheap or free birth control, and abortion, which makes it less risky to hop in the sack with anyone and not be worried about creating a baby.
Yes, in this day and age where serial polygamy (successive fornication and marriage and divorce), multiple premarital-sex partners in rapid succession, is common, if not the majority of all intimate relationships, marriage is a fool’s wager, especially for those males who bring more resources to the table.
A woman who has slept with one too many men is bound to be desensitised to the idea of monogamy, unless significant (extraordinary) will power prevails. Men are not as deeply hurt by abandonment as women are, simply due to the biological stakes a woman invests into a sexual relationship, though she may not be fully aware of it. You cannot bypass millions of years of evolution without some hurting happening along the way.
POPE PAUL VI AS PROPHET:
HAVE HUMANAE VITAE’S BOLD PREDICTIONS COME TRUE?
University of Dallas
Humanae Vitae 25 years ago “prophesied” that marriages and society would suffer if the use of contraception became widespread. Now the vast majority of spouses, as well as those who are unmarried, use some form of contraception.
To be sure, the encyclical was not written to be a prophetic document. Rather, it was written to be a clarifying document, intending to explain what the Church teaches about contraception. The encyclical does present this teaching clearly, but it has been little heeded during the last 25 years. Statistics show that few Catholics live by these teachings, and it seems safe to suppose that few Catholics have read Humanae Vitae.
Christians understand marriage as an elevated calling, whereby God enlists spouses in the all-important enterprise of bringing forth new human life. The Church teaches that to use contraception is to reject God and his life-giving blessings. The Church teaches not merely that contraception is wrong, but that because contraception is wrong, it will have bad consequences.
read more at:
Marriage died when Divorce became normal. That led to youth observing the hypocrisy and deciding living together was pretty much the same thing, and they were right, given one could trade off spouses like used horses at will. Marriage then turned into “personal happiness and fulfillment” instead of being about a place to create and raise children. Now this last step is only a progression......
And in this state of FL they are doing away with life long alimony, so wives can be discharged with four years of alimony to fend for themselves once the kids are raised. Ironically the dems are opposing this and the GOP is supporting this. Myself I’d expect that to have been the other way around as we are usually the party of family.
I’d support it. Alimony is a huge part of the reason people aren’t getting married anymore. That’s true for both my brother and myself and many of my friends.
Most of the problem surrounding alimony has to do with the courts becoming so absurd.
The totalitarian state demands isolated individuals with no deeper or higher loyalties. The person who imagines he's simply pursuing his own desires "freely" ends up looking for Hitler or Stalin to sort out the mess and make "somebody" pay the medical bills.
All good points — especially the last one about marriage being love and nothing else.
As you point out, the stigma against shacking up, unwed births and divorce has eased in recent years. But until recently the ideal was always male-female marriage. This ideal was recognized in the Bible and by every major religion. Many kids living in wedlock could be shamed into getting married eventually. They felt guilty. Make an honest woman out of you!
But male-male “marriage” is radical, rootless, against nature. If male-male is placed on a pedestal along with male-female, then every combination must be, too.
Very interesting perspective. Makes me want to watch the movie again and see how this concept affects it.
God defines marriage. It is an eternal institution. Whether or not man accepts it or to what extent people are willing to respect it is an other matter. But when a society rejects God sufficiently, God reject it. In the case of a society that claims to know God, but brings His name into disrespect because of how they trample on His values, God will punish them for their actions.
Its the 21st century, and women who divorce can support themselves and not milk men dry, as the feminazis and Flrda dems want.
I like your tagline, its full of common sense. “Making good people helpless doesnt make bad people harmless.” I would love to see it on billboards.
Exactly. Didn’t see your comment before I replied below. But I agree with you exactly.
The problem with marriage isn’t that its to hard to extract ones self from the tie. Its that its to easy.
Is it easy? That’s hard for me to imagine. If I loved a woman enough that I would marry her, a divorce would destroy me. Literally, I think.
Perhaps, but religious arguments do not help your cause. The formation of people into exclusive male-female mating pairs is not a consequence of any religious teaching, and arguing from a religious perspective will make it easier for non-religious people to ignore the unassailable secular basis of the institution.
While it's true that contraception and adoption change the equation slightly, for society to thrive, male-female mating couples need to be the norm. Children are most likely to grow up to participate in such couples if they have a parent of their own sex to serve as a role model for how they should behave in a relationship, and a parent of the opposite sex as a role model for what they should expect in a mate. A same-sex couple who adopts a child would deprive it of one or the other role model. In the event that there were a shortage of prospective adoptive families, such deprivation might not be the worst thing in the world, but it would be a legitimate basis for awarding male-female married couples priority placement.