Same-Sex Marriage? How Have We Gotten Here?

As you can see just below there has been a vote of DC City Council to recognize same-sex “marriages” that have been contracted in other states where such unions are legal. There is also the statement of the Archdiocese in response to that vote.

How have we gotten to the place where marriage has been so radically redefined by a growing number in our society? I wonder if it doesn’t come down to a shift in thinking about marriage that took place beginning in the late 1960s? It was during that time that a fundamental understanding about marriage slipped away. What was that understanding?? Simply this: that marriage is about children. Almost everyone today thinks that marriage is about adults and only includes children if it suits the adults. And even if it suits the adults they decide how many children and when. The bottom line is that most people think about marriage today as for and about adults. To be sure, the spouses are surely an important object of consideration in marriage but children provide the essential reference as to why marriage should be structured as it is. It should be stable (no easy divorce) for the sake of the children. It should be heterosexual because that is an obvious prerequisite for child bearing. Parents should seek to establish a strong bond and strive for unity for the sake of the children. Emphasis  should be given to “staying together for the sake of the children” even if there are difficulties in a marriage. But slowly this thinking has slipped away.

The first big chips in the foundations began in the 1950s when the first “Hollywood” divorces began to publicly take place. People, (who love their movie stars!) began to state that if someone is “unhappy” in a marriage that they shouldn’t have to stay. “After all, is happiness not one of the chief ends of marriage?” Or so the thinking began to go. Some even brought God into all of this, “God doesn’t want me to be unhappy does he?”

The second wave of chips in the foundation took place in the sexual revolution of the late 1960s. Now it seemed that if marriage wasn’t about children, neither was sex. Sex came to been seen primarily for pleasure and for the enjoyment of the partners. The link to child bearing was also severed by the large scale availability and use of contraceptives. To be sure there was pleasure to be had in sex but it is also clear from the nature of the act that it is intrinsically linked to child bearing and its very nature was to bring sperm and ova into regular proximity (pardon the biology lesson). Nevertheless all this was set aside by the sexual revolution. Now couples gave sex what ever meaning they chose. If they wanted to link it to having  a child so be it. If they preferred to keep the whole thing sterile through contraception fine too. So here too, as with marriage, the link to children was diminished or entirely dismissed.

So here we are today. If sex and marriage are no longer necessarily linked to children, but only to the adults and what ever meaning they choose to give these then we have an “anything goes” mentality that starts to develop among many. If marriage takes its primary meaning from what adults want rather than the needs of children then why not easy divorce? If marriage is primarily about the happiness of the adults then surely we should not require or even encourage them to stick it out for the sake of the children. If marriage isn’t about children then why can’t same-sex couples marry? Or so the thinking goes. After all if marriage is about happiness, don’t same-sex people deserve to be happy? And if sex is just about pleasure and not really about child bearing who is to say that people can’t engage in it any number of formats: gay, straight but sterile, pre-marital, etc. It’s not about kids so why bother with all the restrictions? Or so the tinking goes.

Well, this is a lot to consider. But here is the bottom line. If marriage is primarily about adults and only incidentally about children then should it surprise us that some have taken this thinking (very common even among Christians today) to the next level?  If marriage and sex aren’t about children but about adults and the meaning they choose to give it then limits to the definition of marriage are decried by increasing numbers as intolerant attacks on the happiness of another (adult).

But Marriage is about children. Yes, adults are involved and they are important, but in the end marriage takes its limits and structure from the fact that it’s primary fruit is children. Proponents of Gay marriage would surely reject this. But sadly, so do many Christians who have long dabbled in a culture of easy divorce, tolerated promiscuity and notions that my primary right is always to be happy and seldom inconvenienced.

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