Defining Marriage: What’s in a Name?

by walterm on October 3, 2012

I have been involved in a trail on same-sex marriage on Facebook, and wanted to make what I feel is a critical point that I think is important in discussing this issue. I would like to send a special hat tip to Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute in his recent Christian Research Journal article where he makes a brilliant defense and exposition of traditional marriage. The point I want to highlight is how the word marriage picks out and refers to something, specifically the “comprehensive union of body, mind, emotion, and soul, a proper end of which is children,” as beautifully expressed by Richards. Now note that this is regardless of whether a couple is capable of producing a child or not, because even though that is the natural function, we live in a fallen world and thus, things go wrong. Such is the human condition. So while I know liberals may not acknowledge the teleology (or purpose) behind marriage, I would still argue that it certainly presents itself as common sense if nothing else. I believe that it is simply an indication of the natural law, which forms the basis of our Constitution.

Now when someone says this definition of marriage and what it refers to is discriminatory, what is actually being said (and this is key) is that they don’t honor the institution as anything worthy, and that we shouldn’t be allowed to simply pick out a word that describes an obviously unique institution that has existed since the dawn of man (regardless of those who have resorted to other arrangements such as polygamy which is illegal for a reason). Think about that for a moment. What other definitions might be picked out and called discriminatory simply because of what they are referring to? Are we saying that the union between a man and a woman is NOT deserving of a term that describes their union? I believe that is precisely what same-sex marriage supporters are arguing. Yet if they expand the term to include other arrangements, it will no longer be based on obvious natural function, but it must include any and all arrangements that people in a “loving, committed relationship” can come up, and it will prove to be a meaningless term that once actually had a meaning (as it has become in Denmark since they allowed same-sex marriage where people are just avoiding it altogether).

What is most scary about the tactics of the same-sex marriage advocates is the fact that if they are successful in turning a simple definition into willful discrimination, where does it end? What is the next term someone will choose to say because the way it is defined that it is inherently discriminatory? Effectively it makes any sort of categorization of virtually anything open to revision and those who use the category can be labeled as bigots, just as same-sex marriage advocates are doing to those who simply want to maintain the traditional definition of marriage without even a thought as to discrimination. Effectively, it is a loss of religious freedom for the American people, because while same-sex marriage advocates feel they are gaining a civil right, they are all too fine with restricting the rights of others because once this becomes law, there will be no more freedom to voice opposition against homosexuality or same-sex marriage in the church, just as in Canada. This is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith, and if the government takes away this freedom it will be just one more nail in the coffin for freedom of religion in America and religious conscience, and the further establishment of a secular humanist society based purely on naturalistic constructs uninformed by religious faith. Welcome to the new America.


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