Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We don't know what marriage is

Lots of depressing news on the pro-traditional marriage front lately, as judge after judge in state after state decides that only "bigotry" could prevent anybody declaring that two dudes or two dudettes are a "marriage."  And after this heady piece of sterling judicial logic, the judges will, no doubt, for an encore decide that one's head and one's buttocks are exactly the same thing since both are body parts, and will insist that public restrooms install fixtures to accommodate those who excrete from their craniums, so as not to promote bigotry and discrimination (because these same judges have already demonstrated that they, personally, think with their...oh, never mind).


The problem is not that religious people have one definition of marriage and godless people have another.  The problem is that secular law has been quite comfortable for a long time defining marriage as a contract that was specifically issued to a man and a woman.  One of each.  Who were exchanging certain rights and duties, which included the right and duty to engage in lawful sexual intercourse with each other (newsflash: there used to be unlawful kinds!  Oh, wait, there still are) and to be responsible, together, for any children who might result from the contractual relationship (even if no children ever did).

What is marriage now?

Nobody knows.  Nobody.

Oh, sure, there's some legal definition or other in pro-marriage-destruction states like Massachusetts.  The problem is that those legal definitions don't make it clear why a marriage contract must necessarily exclude three or more people, incestuous relatives, NON-incestuous relatives, or even friends who aren't into each other sexually.  There's no good reason that two heterosexual male college roommates in Massachusetts could not, right now, get "married" to each other in order to take advantage of "married" student housing and special financial aid packages and whatnot, stay "married" through their college years, and then "divorce" in order to marry women (with a nice tax break for the divorce, most likely!) once they graduate; in fact, it might be a smart financial strategy, and a way to take advantage of "diversity" scholarships and the like.  Who could possibly object: gay couples, complaining that these two college guys were making a mockery of gay "marriage?"  I can't even type that sentence without laughing.

There's no logical reason why marriages can't be among groups of three or more.  There's no logical reason why marriages can't involve relatives, friends, and spinster great-aunts who just want to share health insurance benefits.  Since marriage is no longer the union of a man and a woman ordered toward the promotion of the natural family, it can be anything.

Which makes it nothing.

The next step will be for single people to sue various state governments on the grounds that penalizing them in tax laws, inheritance laws, benefits calculations, etc. for their relationship status is just as bigoted and hateful as keeping two men or two women from calling themselves a "marriage."  I fully expect the rallying cry "Marriage rights for the single!" to be raised once single people realize how badly they are being cheated to subsidize people who choose voluntarily to enter into a contract based on a putatively sex-centered romantic relationship which can be as temporary as the parties to it desire.  And, to be honest, I support them.  If civil marriage no longer has anything to do with promoting and supporting the natural family, then to hell with it.


L. said...

"There's no good reason that two heterosexual male college roommates in Massachusetts could not, right now, get 'married' to each other in order to take advantage of 'married' student housing..." And similarly, there's no good reason that a platonic opposite sex couple can't do exactly the same, so what's the point there? The problem is deception in either case.

And you say it's a "problem" that legal definitions don't make it clear "why a marriage contract must necessarily exclude...friends who aren't into each other sexually" -- what?

I know plenty of platonic couples (who are just not into intimacy) who married for the tax breaks, or simply for old-fashioned companionship, compatibility, and -- imagine this! -- LOVE.

Should such Josephite marriages really be excluded by law?

Pat said...

Red, your example of 2 college roommate dudes marrying each other for housing etc has always been possible - and practiced - by straight people. Expanding marriage rights to gays encourages no more fraud than expanding voting rights to women suddenly caused voter fraud.

Your other fears (polygamy and incestuous marriage) are social constructs that have to be considered separately from the rights of our fellow gay citizens.

David Sharples said...

It outlook looks bleak, very.

We are a binary species, men and women are equal-and-different, but that fact is denied.
Man-man, woman-woman is not equal to woman-man, that fact is denied.

If complementarity and fecundity has nothing to do with marriage, so what will become of exclusivity and permanence?

It all has to do with the widespread acceptance of contraception, an anti-life act that is mutual masturbation; but few priests or bishops speak of it.

Ah but God Provides, soon it will need to be spoken of-

Al said...

But these platonic "marriages" of convenience were always annulable if they had not been consummated by sexual union. So maybe gay "marriages" could be ruled likewise?

Muscovite said...

A very well-written post!

L.: Yes, the problem is deception. But the deception is not that two people are pretending to love each other, but really don't (where is it asked on a marriage license if the applicants "really love each other"?). The deception is that sexual attraction and the desires of the couple have been substituted for the state's interest (the best environment for raising the next generation of stable citizens) as a criterion for the civil recognition of marriage. And, as such, "gay marriage" is very much part of that deception.

Pat: And "gay marriage" isn't a social construct? What else could it be? It certainly isn't biologically natural: the biological purpose of sex is procreation. Given that men and women exist in roughly equal proportions in society, and people's proclivity toward jealousy, only natural marriage makes any sort of biological sense, and is therefore most decidedly *not* a "social construct".

Pat said...

Muscovite, all marriage is a social construct, gay marriage, straight marriage, all of it. My point is that when talking about rights of our fellow citizens we have to consider these constructs separately.

And I strongly disagree with your statements about natural marriage and biology. You are conflating sex and marriage. The species would continue without marriage. Same as the whales and the chickens. That's biology. But only humans form marriages - a social construct, a human institution.