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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Definition of Marriage

According to Cornell University Law School, the definition of "marriage" in the United States Code is as follows: "The word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." This, as of May 31, 2012, was ruled "unconstitutional" by a federal court*, but is still being reviewed and, as such, is still United States Code.

According to Mirriam-Webster, "marriage" means "The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife."

MacMillan Dictionary says "a married person has a husband or wife."

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "marriage" as "the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife".

In 2008, the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) voted to retain the longstanding, traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In 2010, they voted to change the definition to be only "two people".

According to Dictionary.com, "marriage" is defined as "the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc." Indeed, so clear and offensive is this definition that 65,000 people have signed a petition to change the definition ... because we all know how it currently is defined.

It's clear. Abundantly clear. Everyone knows it. We get it. Marriage has a definition. The aim is not "marriage equity", but to redefine what we call "marriage". And yet, when I say so, there's a fight. Why is that?

________
* Please note: According to Fox News, "Two of the three judges who decided the case Thursday were Republican appointees, while the other was a Democratic appointee. Boudin was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, while Judge Juan Torruella was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Chief Judge Sandra Lynch is an appointee of President Bill Clinton." Those of you seeking to elect Mitt Romney with a view to judge appointments, please keep this in mind. These judges were, in the majority, appointed by those you would classify as "on our side".

33 comments:

Vaughn Ohlman said...

It's not just the 'definition' of marriage that is under attack, but even of 'man' and 'woman'.

Stan said...

Indeed, definitions of gender or even the distinction of gender are all under attack.

But as the conversation has continued, I wonder if the focus on "definition" has been helpful. It really isn't "definition" that concerns me. It's concept. What marriage is, what male is, what female is, and these are just the beginning.

Our words are the symbols by which we address realities. It is the realities that are my concern. In fact, genuine marriage will never change. I don't know how many will recognize it in another decade, but the truth of it won't change.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Words are, indeed, symbols by which we address realities. However when we are forced to use good words for bad concepts, or have any words at all for good concepts stripped away, then we begin to lose the battle.

That is why I, as you know, don't use words such as 'single' or 'homosexual'; preferring the Biblical words 'unmarried' and 'sodomite'.

Stan said...

Certainly using words that fit concepts is essential. The problem (and the problem with "marriage" illustrates it well) is that the good words that refer to good concepts are being forgotten or stolen or mitigated. When people, then, try to use these good words to refer to good concepts, the words are lost because the receiver of those words no longer understands them. It's called "communication breakdown", and while it appears to be a simple failure to communicate, it can be much more drastic than that when the concept to which the word refers is lost as well.

Dan Trabue said...

May I please ask a respectful and, I think, a reasonable question:

Does this mean that you don't think that polygamists are "married," since they don't fit the legal definition you're offering of "only a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife..."?

My response is, whether or not we like or approve it, polygamists can reasonably be called "married" because they are in a marriage-like relationship - whether or not it is a legally recognized one.

Similarly for gay folk: Approve or disapprove, they are in a marriage-like relationship and it is reasonable to call it "marriage," again, regardless of our approval or disapproval.

Words evolve.

We don't own words and can't claim they are "stolen" just because we don't approve of the usage.

Indeed, words ARE symbols by which we recognize realities. Two gay fellas in a marriage-like relationship can reasonably be identified as "married" because that word fits the reality of their relationship.

Does any of that seem unreasonable to you?

Marshall Art said...

The MacMillan version will be received well by homosexuals and their enablers. A homosexual man (or "sodomite", if you prefer) will say he has a husband, and so will his husband. A lesbian (or "sodom-ess", if you prefer) will say she has a wife and so will here wife. Of course some of each will simply say "partner", but you get the point.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Speaking only for myself:

Of course polygamists are married. That is, David was married to Michal, and David was married to Abigail, etc.

On the other hand, Sodomites aren't married. Using your own words, there is nothing at all marriage-like about what two Sodomites do. Indeed, I think that is our point.

You can come up with some word to mean 'people that live together and have sex together'. For example, one might call both a horses legs and his tail 'appendages', meaning 'long skinny things that are attatched to a horse's body'.

But, just as horse does not have four actual legs, regardless of how you call them, what two (or more) Sodomites do is not marriage. 'The union of a man and a woman' is the very heart of what marriage is.

So there are things that are 'marriage like'. A man and a woman that are 'friends with benefits' are engaging (pardon the pun) in a 'marriage like' relationship... a relationship with parts of marriage and parts left off.

But what two Sodomites do cannot, under any circumstances, be 'marriage like'. The core is missing.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Does this mean that you don't think that polygamists are "married," since they don't fit the legal definition you're offering"

Point #1: I offered the definitions I found. I offered their sources, in fact. If by "the legal definition you're offering" you mean "the legal definition those sources are offering", then I can answer. If you mean "the legal definition that you've chosen and are spewing back out to us", then you've missed the point of the post. It's not my definition.

Point #2: The United States Code references "one man and one woman". The others do not provide a number. Polygamy is the union of a man and a woman ... and that same man and another woman, and so on.

Dan Trabue: "My response is, whether or not we like or approve it, polygamists can reasonably be called 'married' because they are in a marriage-like relationship - whether or not it is a legally recognized one."

I'm curious about this. First, without a definition of "married", I have difficulty understanding "a marriage-like relationship". Second, if x can reasonably be called married "whether or not it is a legally recognized one", then why is it necessary to alter the laws? Finally, it would appear, from this statement, that you do support marriage equity for polygamists. I would also have to guess that, with that support, you'd also have to logically support polyamory on the same basis.

Dan Trabue: "Words evolve."

I apologize. It would appear that my efforts and work done on defining and explaining from as many sources as I can the concept of "marriage" have misled you into a misunderstanding. The English word, "marriage", is not the issue. The concept -- biblical, historical, traditional, and so on -- is and always has been the issue. It's not about matrimonio (Spanish), but about the concept that has biblically, historically, and traditionally always been in place -- the union of a man and a woman with a purpose (that's shorthand). Nisui'in (Hebrew) is a concept with a particular meaning. Moving "marriage" to a different concept cannot help but obscure (at best) and damage (at worst) that concept, because we will no longer have the word symbol that points to that concept. I don't think you're attacking marriage. I think you're denying the concept. It's not my word. It's not my concept. It is a biblical, historical, and traditional concept. You are not stealing it from me. You're stealing it from the Bible, from history, and from tradition. It is the concept that forms the basis of society. You're stealing it from society.

And "marriage-like" doesn't make any sense without a definition of "marriage". You don't seem to notice. 65,000 other people did; that's why they feel the need to sign a petition to redefine the word to this new concept that you are pushing.

And, no, I don't anticipate that this will make any sense to you.

Stan said...

Vaughn Ohlman: "... just as horse does not have four actual legs ..."

Pssst! Vaughn! A horse does have four actual legs. Your math is off. :)

On a side note, another blog has linked to this post. (You can find it at "Links to this post".) The writer there, an atheist that used to comment here until he discovered I moderate my comments (I didn't know he even read my blog anymore), has taken you to task for your words. I don't need to discuss it with him. You may not need to either. But I thought I'd let you know.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

That's what I get for doing three things at once. Or was it five?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

thx for the heads up, reply posted over on 'that site'. Wonder what he hates about moderated sites?

Vaughn Ohlman said...

BTW I hope everyone realizes that Dan's system for definitions is infinitely expandable.

If you say that because 'B' is 'A-like', therefore we will call it 'A', we will soon notice that 'C' is 'A-like' (being right there next to teh thing we used to call 'B'), and then 'D' is 'A-like'... all the way until we end up with 'Z' being 'A-like'.

A is A. B is not A.

Stan said...

There are three kinds of people -- those who can count and those who can't.

And that blogger doesn't like moderated sites because he might be moderated out.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/denmark-forces-churches-to-perform-same-sex-marriages

Dan Trabue said...

Vaughn...

Using your own words, there is nothing at all marriage-like about what two Sodomites do.

They sleep together at night.
They live together during the day.
They love each other.
They cook meals together/for each other.
They have children together sometimes.
They love those children and raise them to be responsible, good adults.
They work around the house together.
They plant gardens together.
They pay bills together.
They exercise (sometimes - not enough, though) together.
They watch TV (probably too much) together.
They sometimes go to church together, pay tithe together, pray together, visit the sick together, assist the poor together.
They have sex together.

You get the idea. I could go on and on and in nearly every aspect, gay folk living in a marriage relationship are exactly like their straight counterparts. In fact, in only ONE way can I think that they differ, and that's only in their sexual orientation.

Otherwise, their relationships are exactly like straight relationships.

Thus, it is extremely rational to call it a marriage. What else would you call it if someone is living in a marriage-like arrangement?

Marriage means something and the spirit and ideal of what it means is what married gay folk live.

Where am I mistaken? How is that not almost exactly like a straight couple?

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

If by "the legal definition you're offering" you mean "the legal definition those sources are offering", then I can answer.

Yes, that is what I meant.

Stan...

without a definition of "married", I have difficulty understanding "a marriage-like relationship". Second, if x can reasonably be called married "whether or not it is a legally recognized one", then why is it necessary to alter the laws?

I think the definition/ideal of marriage is pretty clear in most people's minds: Two people, living together, paying bills together, doing activities together (including sexual activities), loving each other, being committed and responsible to one another and their families/communities, sometimes raising kids together, etc, etc. This is what marriage means to most people, I'd suggest.

It's necessary to alter the laws to ensure justice is served and that there is not an oppressed group of people. It is also wise to alter the laws in order to more ably encourage the healthy ideals of marriage that we all recognize.

Where am I mistaken?

Stan said...

On Vaughn's news reference, for the sake of fairness, according to the source of the lifesite news story, "Pastors in the state church will however not be obliged to marry homosexual couples if they feel it goes against their personal beliefs, according to an annex to the bill." On the other hand, "The Christian Democratic Party, which is no longer in parliament, meanwhile announced Thursday it aimed to initiate a class action suit against the new law, which is set to go into effect on June 15, saying it was an infringement on the right to free religious belief and was thus unconstitutional." And "some 440,000 members of the Church were considering renouncing their membership because of all this."

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Truth. Altho i thot those pastors were still required to refer those desiring such ceremonies, which is just as mich a violation.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue, you've listed a series of things that, as I understand it, are "marriage-like". That is, cooking meals is "marriage-like". Paying bills together is "marriage-like". Indeed, I know people personally that are doing all that and more (like actually having children together -- you have to admit that homosexual couples cannot bear children, right?) who are not married. So what differentiates this list and those people who are cohabiting and doing all this and more and "married"?

You see, that's the point. There isn't an actual definition here. You say "Marriage means something" but can't seem to put your finger on what it is that is different than "civil unions" or simple cohabitation.

Now, it is my suspicion that you see all these things as "marriage-like" and define marriage by these things because the actual concept of marriage has lost its meaning in your mind and "most people's minds". But that is where your mistaken. If marriage is "whatever two people who live together do", then, as I've said all along, marriage is meaningless, indistinct from any other condition in which two or more people live together for whatever reasons at all. My son had a roommate. With the absence of sex and children, they still did all those other type things. No one would even hint that they were married. You balk at my definition (derived from history, tradition, even Scripture), but you don't have a substitute except "two people living together".

I asked "Why is it necessary to alter the laws?" because from your description and definition (such as it is) it's already "marriage-like" and needs nothing further to make it more "marriage-like". Further, with the absence of meaning, there's no point. Except, of course, to completely obliterate the last vestiges of any genuine concept and the values that it holds.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

U r completely wrong. None of those things is what marriage is. To be totally blunt, marriage is a covenental relationship to exlusuve penile/vaginal sex for the purposes of fruitfulness and dominion that reflects christ and the church.

Male/male sexual intercourse is a death penalty offense, not something that could ever reflect christs relationship with us.

Dan Trabue said...

Vaughn...

To be totally blunt, marriage is a covenental relationship to exlusuve penile/vaginal sex for the purposes of fruitfulness and dominion that reflects christ and the church.

That is your opinion. I have others, thanks.

Stan, the thing that makes all those things a marriage is the covenantal relationship, not the male-female components.

People who are living together without a covenantal commitment are living together without a covenantal commitment, thus no marriage.

Gay and straight folk who do all those things within the context of a covenantal commitment are living in a marriage relationship, exactly identical in every way except orientation.

With that clarification:

Where specifically am I mistaken?

Marshall Art said...

@Dan Trabue

"They have children together sometimes."

No. The best you can say is that they raise children together that belong to neither of them or only one of them. They cannot both be the true parent of the children they raise. Not to mention that they cannot "have" children together...they need help of a third party which means the children are not the result of the intimate form of behavior God intended was reserved for one man and the one woman to whom he is married. Offspring are the purpose, the reason, for the sexual side of human biology.

"What else would you call it if someone is living in a marriage-like arrangement?"

For the purpose of Dan's argument, it's called "self-deception", "a pretense of being married", "an abomination", "a deviant imitation of the real thing" and of course, "not in the least what God intended for His creation".

"This is what marriage means to most people, I'd suggest."

Not based on the votes of over 60% of the 32 states that were allowed to express their opinions on the subject at the ballot box. Put another way, over 60% of the people of over 60% of the United States of America do NOT see it your way.

"It's necessary to alter the laws to ensure justice is served and that there is not an oppressed group of people."

This is a blatant lie. There is no injustice inflicted upon this group of people who are in no way oppressed simply because over 60% of the nation rightfully refuses to enable their indulging in their abnormal attractions. They aren't required to ride in the back of the bus, they aren't required to drink at separate water fountains...they are only required by people wishing to protect the culture to keep their deviancies to themselves. If they were oppressed, they would not be given the freedom to blatantly ignore municipal codes of public decency and expose themselves in front of children simulating sex acts in parades. If they were oppressed, they would be allowed to sue Christians who do not want to do business with them in a manner that suggests the Christians support their lifestyles. People who beat them are given stiffer penalties upon conviction because the victim was "gay folk". Oppressed? Like hell they are.

"It is also wise to alter the laws in order to more ably encourage the healthy ideals of marriage that we all recognize."

It is painfully clear that "we" don't all agree on what constitutes healthy ideals of marriage. Over 60% of the nation disagree with YOUR understanding. A great percentage of what's left over are those who have been corrupted by the lies people like you gleefully preach.

Marshall Art said...

As to the definition, here's one that is right on the money provided by the latest edition of National Review. It is the emboldened part of their explanation for the traditional civil laws regarding marriage.

"The only good reason to have marriage laws in the first place---to have the state recognize a class of relationships called "marriage" out of all the possible strong bonds that adults can form---is to link erotic desire to the upbringing of the children it can produce."

We hope the two parties love each other. This hope is that they do so for the rest of their lives so as to maintain the covenant between them. But marriage, in this country, has always contained the aspect of procreation. Not adoption or in vitro with the help of a third party, but procreation; an impossibility among sodomites. Thus, they only pretend to be married and there is no reason the state should care. Indeed, the state doesn't even care if a normal couple loves each other. "Love" is not part of the equation as far as why one group is so favored with sanctioning and not any other.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

They cannot both be the true parent of the children they raise.

Wow, that is an incredibly unfair characterization of adoptive parents, Marshall. Shame on you. OF COURSE adoptive parents (whether they both adopt a child or if the child is from a previous relationship) are "true parents," do you really want to argue against that?

No, of course a gay couple can't impregnate one another, but that does not mean they can't be true parents. True parents are the people who raise you. Sometimes, it's your birth parents, but not always.

Dan Trabue said...

And Marshall, I'd ask you along with anyone else the same question I asked Stan...

Gay and straight folk who do all those things within the context of a covenantal commitment are living in a marriage relationship, exactly identical in every way except orientation.

With that clarification:

Where specifically am I mistaken?

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "Where specifically am I mistaken?"

In any definition of "marriage", still unsupplied, unsupported, and without substance.

In the idea that it's "opinion" because certainly God never gave any indication of what "marriage" was intended to be.

In your understanding of what "a covenantal commitment" might be.

In any explanation as to why, if your view is that "marriage is a 'covenantal commitment'" that exists whenever people are living in these conditions, the laws need to change and the concept needs to change and the -- for lack of a better term because it really is the description -- the war against the longstanding, traditional concept of marriage needs to be waged.

In your argument (without any sort of biblical support) that is any more than "They love each other! Why shouldn't they be married?"

In the definitional link that "love" = "marriage" in some way, that love is the only correct basis for marriage. (That notion is radical and really new on the scene.)

In the ridiculous connection of nonsensical laws regarding racial marriage and reasonable laws that maintain marriage.

Marshall Art said...

No, Dan. Shame on YOU for presuming I meant anything negative as regards adoptive parents. My statement was clearly and obviously aimed at yours regarding "having" children. Homosexuals CANNOT "have" children, just like many hetero couples. Thus, the term "true" parents MUST be taken to have something to do with this concept, as in true biological parents. Your "shame on you" springs from a purposely dishonest interpretation meant to deceitfully compare the two groups (homo/hetero) as being without serious differences that are compelling enough to limit one from the sanctioning given to the other.

In the meantime, you continue to offer no compelling arguments to support your sin-enabling position

Craig said...

I have to admit I'm a little confused. It seems to me that if something is "marriage like", then by definition it is not marriage. So who would refer to something that is quite clearly not marriage as marriage. That would be like saying Dan is idiot like, therefore one could reasonably refer to him as an idiot. I quite honestly am baffled by this perspective. Either the concept or essence of marriage means something, or any relationship that bears the most tangential similarity to marriage can be called marriage if one so chooses.

"This is what marriage means to most people, I'd suggest."

This is one on the most foolish things I've ever seen. First that fact that you suggest something has no actual grounding an any sort of reality. Second, I was unaware that we now define things by such nebulous consensus.

"Gay and straight folk who do all those things within the context of a covenantal commitment are living in a marriage relationship, exactly identical in every way except orientation."

Actually if one takes your prior words at face value, this statement is untrue. These folks are (as per your earlier comment) in a "marriage like" relationship, not a marriage relationship. Given that the actual premise of your question seems to have no meaning. So maybe you could harmonize what appears to be a "contradiction like" element to your hunch.

Stan,

As usual, you are on target. This is more fundamental than definitions. As we are seeing, the entire concept of defining marriage is so flexible as to be meaningless.

Stan said...

I can see what you're saying here, Craig, but, as the other old saying goes, "If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." If it does duck-like things, it's likely a duck.

The problem I see is if they do "marriage-like" things, then it's "marriage" ... so why do we need to change any laws or modify any existing conditions? If it is already (in their terminology) "marriage", what's left? (That is, apparently "marriage" is more than "marriage-like".)

Stan said...

That would depend on how you use it, wouldn't it? As a birdwatcher, I've had this conversation more than once:

"So, what was that bird?"

"I'm not sure. It looked like a phainopepla."

"But was it a phainopepla?"

"Well, let me think ... it sounded like a phainopepla and it had the same tuft on its head as a phainopepla. I guess it must have been a phainopepla."

"Okay, fine, but couldn't you pick a bird with an easier name to identify?"

So "like" may be used to correlate or to differentiate, depending on your intention.

And, to be clear, that's Dan's dilemma. If "marriage-like" means "it's already marriage", then nothing more needs to be done and the whole legal battle is mean-spirited, not genuine. If "marriage-like" means "but not marriage", then he's agreeing with us and the whole legal battle is mean-spirited, not genuine. You know ... lose-lose.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

True, ish. The way Dan uses it though is more like 'it tastes like chicken'.



In the end, the core of what Dan is proposing and true marriage are contradictory, not 'like'.

True marriage has, at its core, a committment to vaginal intercourse. Such a committement, between two people who are allowed to make it, is blessed.

Sodomite marriage, at its core, is a committment to a blasphemous and death-penalty action, which is cursed, not blessed.

Stan said...

Well, now, there you go, trying to define your world by the Scriptures. Others aren't quite as limited as that. They can define reality in ways that have no correlation to reality.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Now that I am on a computer and not an iphone:

Dan proposes a list. Let's go through it point by point:

They sleep together at night.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married. Throughout history many married couples did not sleep together at night.
They live together during the day.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married. Lot's of married couple don't. Indeed, most modern couples hardly do, being so busy with work and all. And old fashioned couples tended to have the man out in the fields and all.
They love each other.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They cook meals together/for each other.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They have children together sometimes.
==Sometimes? This is hardly even a qualification, being so qualified.
They love those children and raise them to be responsible, good adults.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They work around the house together.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They plant gardens together.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They pay bills together.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They exercise (sometimes - not enough, though) together.
They watch TV (probably too much) together.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They sometimes go to church together, pay tithe together, pray together, visit the sick together, assist the poor together.
== And if they didn't, they would still be married.
They have sex together.
== Actually, you mean 'they have intercourse together'. Sometimes they might have other kinds of sex, but truly married couples have penile/vaginal intercourse together. Nice attempt to blur the issue, however.

These issues are all non-sequitors... except for the issue of intercourse. Many of them might be true for some or even most modern couples, but they do not 'define' marriage... they do not separate what is marriage from what is not marriage. With this kind of vague subjective list you could prove that a cat is a dog (it jumps up on your lap. It lets you pet it. It lives in the house with you...)