Over the past two days, I have been watching an online video of a debate regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriages and whether or not they should be legalized.
Parts of the discussion were fascinating, parts were offensive, and parts were really informative. One issue that I had not thought about was this:
Why does the state involve itself in marriage at all? What is the governmental reason for establishing the institution of marriage? Is it to somehow legalize two people falling in love? Is it to provide special benefits to people who walk the aisle? Or is it because governments have always been pseudo-religious and our governmental heritage is no different?
The argument proposed by the lady in the interview is that the state sanctions marriage as an institution to protect and provide for the children who would naturally come about from sexual union. Therefore, it is argued, marriage as a state recognized institution assumes heterosexual partners.
Additionally, there are some in the show who would argue that to give one category of people the right to “marry” and to give another category the right to enter “civil unions” is akin to “separate but equal” laws like telling blacks they needed to sit in the back of the bus. It is clear that the LGBT community will not settle for different terminology other than the word “marriage” because to them “marriage” is about love even though to many Christians, marriage is about sexual partnerships and family stability first and foremost. (Specifically, the Bible never tells people to marry the ones they love, but to love the ones they have married.)
Therefore, it seems to me that the time has come for two things:
- Civil Marriage needs to be given a more specific definition that is recognized by both the state and the culture.
- The church must identify what is meant by Religious Marriage so that there is a clear foundation for “religious freedom” arguments in the face of potential future legislation.
Is marriage fundamentally a sexually stabilizing institution or is it fundamentally a state-recognized love commitment? Is it discrimination to use “marriage” to refer to heterosexual, state-endorsed covenants while using “civil union” or some other term to refer to other state-endorsed interpersonal covenants.