Words have meanings. And it makes sense to maintain those meanings if we hope to communicate effectively. It does no good to use a word to represent something that it is not. For example, it does no good for someone to call an apple an orange. It benefits neither the consumers of the fruit or the people talking about it, it simply degrades the language and is the root of all disagreement. “Marriage” is one of those words with a meaning. It means, as it has since its inception, the union between one male and one female with the goals of love and procreation. Any other interpersonal relationship is not a marriage; it’s something else. Further, it doesn’t make any sense that a meaning can change by government decree as Big Brother tried to do in 1984:
“You are a slow learner, Winston.”
“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
Just like changing 2+2 to 2+3 no longer equates to 4, a relationship missing any of the above qualifications is not marriage. That is the essence of marriage and it deserves its own designation just as an apple deserves its own designation separate from all other fruit.
One may ask well, what’s so important about marriage as defined above? Can’t there be different kinds of marriages, like gay marriages? But if ‘marriage’ has the definition above, modifying it with gay makes it an oxymoron. It’s like labeling a specific tennis match same-sex mixed doubles. It makes no sense. Both unions are types of relationships, but they are not both types of marriages. The male/female relationship with the goal of love and procreation deserves its own nomenclature. Why does a male/female relationship with the goal of love and procreation need a special designation among relationships? Isn’t limiting the concept of marriage a type of hateful bigotry? It just so happens marriage, as defined above, is integral to life itself, specifically human life. We wouldn’t be here without participating in it. Further, this relationship is written into our very nature. How?
1. There are costs to sexual selection (as opposed to asexual reproduction), so the benefits (most notably genetic complementation) must be greater for it to persist evolutionarily.
2. I read an article last week that posited that no one has sex for procreation, they have it for physical and emotional pleasure. But that begs the question why sex produces physical and emotional pleasure? It’s because it was beneficial evolutionarily. We descendants exist because our ancestors found procreation pleasurable. What we do with that side effect now is up to us but it doesn’t change where the side effect was originated. We have sex to procreate.
3. Pair bonding in humans (driven by neuropeptides, neurotransmitters, and hormones), is regularly associated with mate-guarding (e.g., highly aggressive behavior towards sexual competitors) and the bi-parental care of young. In other words, we are hardwired to be monogamous.
All this points to the conclusion that male/female marriage is written into our nature. This isn’t hate or bigotry, it’s just logically and scientifically-based common sense. But if this relationship was so important, you would expect it to bear out in scientific data. It does. Regarding single motherhood :
- Parental divorce increases the likelihood that a daughter will be on welfare later in life.
- Compared to single mothers who remain unwed, single mothers who marry are less likely to be on welfare.
- Children are less likely to live in poverty when their mothers remarry after a divorce, compared to peers whose mothers remained single or entered into a cohabiting relationship. (source:familyfacts.com)
So a dual-parent family is better off than a single-parent family, but why does it have to be a heterosexual couple? Does it matter what sexual orientation the parents are? Yes. Compared with children raised by their married biological parents (IBF), children of homosexual parents (LM and GF):
- Are much more likely to have received welfare (IBF 17%; LM 69%; GF 57%)
- Have lower educational attainment
- Report less safety and security in their family of origin
- Report more ongoing “negative impact” from their family of origin
- Are more likely to suffer from depression
- Have been arrested more often
- If they are female, have had more sexual partners–both male and female (source:frc.org)
All this isn’t to say that homosexuals deserve to be hated or ostracized. Everyone has the right to engage in any voluntary contract with others, but calling that contract a marriage does nothing but diminish the effectiveness of the English language. And every human deserves to be treated with dignity as they are infinitely valuable, but that doesn’t mean they are the same. Durant wrote, “Equality between unequals is inequality.” It does us no good treating two distinctly contrary human relationships the same.
This is a great video in which Ryan Anderson makes many of the same points: