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Friday, June 29, 2012

A Point Well Missed

I've been arguing for literally years that "marriage" has a definition and that the drive to make it "same-sex marriage" is a drive to change the definition of marriage itself. You would have thought, after all this time, that I would have made that clear. From the things I read elsewhere, however, it would appear that I have failed to get my point across.

The question of "marriage" is not a question of word definitions. It is not a question that can be answered by altering the dictionary or evolving the English language. These alterations and evolutions are a symptom of the question but are not the question at hand. Here is the question at hand. Will "marriage" be allowed to continue?

"Oh," you say, "that's clear enough and obviously that is precisely our aim." Nope, again, it is a point well missed.

I'm not talking about your word, "marriage". I'm talking about a concept, an idea, in fact, an institution. The word in question is simply the symbol currently in use that denotes the concept, the reality. I am not arguing, then, in favor of "marriage". I am not interested in keeping the definition of "marriage" pure. I really don't care if you call it "marriage" or "brak" (Croatian) or "huwelijk" (Dutch) or "matrimonio" (Spanish). The word is not my concern. The word is only important as a viable means by which I can indicate the concept in a meaningful way to others. The word is a symbol for a reality, and that reality is my concern.

As such, I have been concerned about this for a lot longer than the current lot of homosexuals have. This isn't a new concern. It isn't an "anti-gay" concern. It isn't a "homophobic" concern. It is a concern for a concept which has been under attack for a long time -- most of my life at least.

If you understand me to be arguing for the definition of a term, you misunderstand. I'm not blaming you. I've used that kind of language too many times. To be fair (to me), I've used that language because the California Supreme Court used that language. They recognized the "longstanding, traditional definition of marriage". I was simply trying to work off of that common structure. Unfortunately, using that structure ("definition of marriage") has likely confused the issue as much as made it clear where I stand.

So let me be clear where I stand. There is a concept. I believe it is a God-given concept. I can find it in my Bible. Beyond my Bible, I can find it in history and I can find it in all cultures that I can find. This concept is a lifelong commitment of a male and a female who are united as a family for the purpose of propogation, companionship, and cooperation. This concept has had a variety of accoutrements and trappings, peripheral practices and traditions, but it has always had this same underlying base. This base has been the core construct of all societies. It was the basis for subsequent generations. It was protected by society as a group. It has always been there.

This basic concept is the concept I wish to defend, the core value I wish to keep. It is not the same concept that could include anything resembling whatever "gay marriage" would entail. It doesn't share common core values, common aims, or common definition. This concept (whatever you choose to call it) is, by nature, turned outward rather than inward. It is not the indulgence of personal desires and whims, but an intentional sacrifice of said whims for a greater purpose (which, by the way, results in far greater rewards). It tames wild men, secures women, provides a unified structure for both to work as a team, and forms the structures necessary for the best possible outcome for offspring.

You want "marriage"? That really isn't the issue. I don't much care about "marriage equity". What I care about is that this institution, this tradition, this commitment, this covenant, this concept that we have known as "marriage" (and which is barely recognizable today as such) be safeguarded and defended and nurtured and continued. The current course of our society is to dismantle this core concept. I don't believe the human race can survive that course. We will certainly not be better off for it.


Dan said...

There is collateral damage in the language as well. A man speaking to me recently refereed to another man as his "husband". I wondered "if he's your husband, then what word describes my position with my wife?" I realize however that, as Von pointed out, no matter what word I invent I'm sure he would eventually co-opt it. So, we are left with this paradigm:

"In the same way that a pile of crap, by any other name, is not a rose, sin, by any other name, is not a virtue."

David said...

Thankfully, the concept of marriage being kept isn't our job. Certainly, we can argue for it, and fight to keep it, but ultimately, God will keep His institution. He made, and He will keep it. We may lose sight of it for a while, but it will always be there. Thank you, Lord.

Stan said...

Yes, Danny, there will certainly be a failure to communicate. I illustrated one aspect a couple of years ago. It isn't going to get easier by obfuscating the language further.

(On a related note, I was just reading in 1 Corinthians and came across "I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3). I wondered, "How do Christians who argue in favor of this modification of 'marriage' understand this? Who is head? Who is 'wife'?" Nope, not getting it.)

Stan said...


When I read that marriage is on the decline or that churches are slipping from orthodoxy or that children are becoming more rebellious or even that the healthcare law was upheld by the Supreme Court, it is the Sovereignty of God that gives me peace which little else can afford.

Marshall Art said...

Despite your eloquence in describing what was and what is now in danger of being lost, you will continue to be described as just another who is obsessed with the sexual practices of those who will hasten its demise. I speak from experience.

Stan said...

Yes, I know. When we complain about the "Fast and Furious" scandal because it killed one of our border agents, we're labeled as "politicking". When we work to enforce federal immigration laws, we're labeled "racist". When we stand up for the lives of unborn children, we're called "anti-choice". When we point to the Bible and say, "That book says that homosexual behavior is a sin", we're called "homophobic". And when we point to history and say "Marriage has ever been thus", we're being "hateful". Fortunately for our detractors, the truth has never been an issue.