A one-topic show, as well as only having one link, but it’s a doozy. I talked about “marriage equality” in show 36, and showed that asking for equality in something is not helpful if you don’t understand the nature of what you’re asking equality for. “Driving equality for the blind”, and all that. So this episode is where I deal with the issue of what marriage is.

Ryan T. Anderson wrote a report for the Heritage Foundation entitled, “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”. It is, in my estimation, required reading before engaging in honest debate on the subject. It’s that good. But, it’s also that long, so there’s a time investment. The abstract at the beginning makes all the claims of the report, but the report itself explains why those claims are made.

Marriage was defined millennia ago, by cultures and religions across time. And during all that time, they came up with the same definition. The government recognizes marriage, but it has never defined it. It is so ironic that those who say that government should get out of marriage are the ones who are asking it to define it.

Marriage has existed to bring a man and woman together, acknowledging that they are complementary, and that any children produced will need both a father and a mother. Even cultures where homosexuality was fully accepted, same-sex marriage was not even a concept most of them considered. Sociologically, this combination has always been the best possible environment for children; with their biological parents, who are in a committed, lifelong relationship. Just because there are examples of how human failings have not lived up to this ideal, does not mean we should thus scrap the whole concept. Indeed, the ease with which divorce can be purchased these days has itself, with only heterosexual participation, turned marriage into merely an agreement based solely on how you Iabout your spouse. Today.

And if government is telling us what marriage is, if it is any emotional bond the state says it is, religious groups who have their views on marriage, and have had them for thousands of years, will not be allowed to keep the religious freedom they have enjoyed.

Anderson ends his report with this statement: “Some might appeal to historical inevitability as a reason to avoid answering the question of what marriage is—as if it were an already moot question. However, changes in public opinion are driven by human choice, not by blind historical forces. The question is not what will happen, but what we should do.”

Let me know your thoughts on the subject.

Mentioned links:

Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It

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Show Transcript

A couple episodes ago, I took on the whole idea of “marriage equality” for homosexuals. Like “driving equality for the blind”, calling for equality requires that one understand the nature of what it is you wish to be equalized. Demanding equality for the blind, while good in the general sense, makes no sense at all when applied to the specific action of driving. The blind should have voting equality, for instance, because the essence of voting – what voting is – does not require that one be sighted in order to participate. Driving, on the other hand, most certainly does.

That, by way of introduction, is what I said when I last talked about this topic. If you go to the website, scroll down in the right-hand column, and you’ll find a list of categories of topics I’ve been covering in this podcast. Click on “Marriage” to find episodes on that topic. Episode 36 is the one you’d be looking for

Therefore, just blindly (so to speak) demanding equality for something requires you, first, to understand the nature of what it is you’re asking about. That is where the debate need to take place, because a proper understanding of marriage, as it has been understood for millennia, shows why it works, how it has been redefined (and thereby eroded) by heterosexuals, and why further redefinition would be even worse.

I have but one link in the show notes, the first time that’s happened. It links to a report by Ryan T Anderson of the Heritage Foundation that is the best treatment of this topic that I’ve ever read. But here’s the thing; it’s long. The reason it’s long is that it deals with its answers in a very detailed way, fully footnoted. If you’d rather just read the short abstract at the beginning, that’s fine. He makes his claims about marriage there, but to really understand how he comes up with these claims requires a little investment of time.

And in this 10-minute-or-less podcast, I can just barely scratch the surface. Suffice to say that this episode is really going to be just a big pointer to his report, trying to pull out some of the gems from the motherlode to whet your appetite for his excellent article. Reading it and understanding it is, dare I say, required reading when it comes to honestly debating the same-sex marriage issue.

“Marriage is what brings us together today.” — audio from The Princess Bride

Indeed it does, and it has been bringing us together since before there was government. You see, those folks who say that that the government should get out of marriage don’t seem to realize that it already is out of marriage. Marriage was defined millennia ago, by cultures and religions across time. And during all that time, they came up with the same definition. The government recognizes marriage, but it has never defined it. It is so ironic that those who say that government should get out of marriage are the ones who are asking it to define it.

And speaking of religion, one thing you’ll find missing from this report is that you won’t hear a single thump on a Bible. Yes, Anderson does note than many religions do define marriage, but he doesn’t use that to buttress his arguments. At most, he argues that the legal right of religious liberty is threatened by the redefinition of marriage.  So if you find a discussion of the nature of marriage easy to dismiss because of religious content, you’ll be stuck.

Marriage has existed to bring a man and woman together, acknowledging that they are complementary, and that any children produced will need both a father and a mother. Even cultures where homosexuality was fully accepted, same-sex marriage was not even a concept most of them considered. (I feel the need to say “most” here, because there could be some culture somewhere at some time that might have had such a thing, but when speaking of the world’s nations and people groups on the whole, and the incredible diversity of those cultures, it’s presence is simply not felt.)

Sociologically, this combination has always been the best possible environment for children; with their biological parents, who are in a committed, lifelong relationship. Just because there are examples of how human failings have not lived up to this ideal, does not mean we should thus scrap the whole concept. Indeed, the ease with which divorce can be purchased these days has itself, with only heterosexual participation, turned marriage into merely an agreement based solely on how you feel about your spouse. Today. And this hefty divorce rate (again, sociologically) been nothing but detrimental, especially to the children, because they benefit greatly in an intact family.

Governmentally, traditional marriage is an institution that benefits society in a way no other relationship does. This is as long as we’re still talking about a committed mother and father bringing up their own children. As long as this remains intact, the government can indeed stay more out of people’s lives. Regulating abortion, adoption, and welfare, and the need for family court, would be greatly reduced, because the well-being of children would be far more secure. Anderson even quotes a left-leaning research institute to demonstrate this. This is not to say all that would be eliminated by any means, but the more marriage breaks down, the more government must get involved, and thus we have the reason that government seeks to promote (or should promote) healthy, traditional marriages. Redefining marriage to be nothing more than a legal contract, which is what it is becoming, and would become even more under same-sex marriage, puts government more into our lives, but telling us what marriage is, and increasing the issues that come with its breakdown.

And if government is telling us what marriage is, if it is any emotional bond the state says it is, religious groups who have their views on marriage, and have had them for thousands of years, will not be allowed to keep the religious freedom they have enjoyed. Even now, Christian photographers are being sued successfully for not taking a job for a same-sex wedding, Catholic priests are being sued for preaching what they believe the Bible plainly says, and churches are being sued to allow same-sex ceremonies. This is already eroding our First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religion. That simply can’t be a good thing.

Filed under: HomosexualityHuman SexualityMarriageSame-sex Marriage