What is Marriage?

Given the historic Supreme Court case upon us, I thought it was a good time to post one of my Facebook debates on marriage.  People love to frame the debate as an "equality" issue, but "marriage equality" is nothing but a sentimental-sounding euphemism.  All adults "regardless of gender or race" already do have the right to marry, in so far as they are capable of it and are seeking a MARITAL relationship. I am not eligible to get married, because I am already married to someone else. Should I claim unjust discrimination if my "religion" held it was ok to marry multiple people? The traditional conjugal view of marriage has nothing to do with unjust discrimination. We already have marriage equality. The real question is, "WHAT IS MARRIAGE?"

Luke shared Barack Obama's photo.
October 8, 2014 · Edited ·
All should have this opportunity for growth and reflection. Marriage is a cultural norm. Marriage is bliss. I say let everyone marry. Mary can Marry Mary. Vic can marry Stan. Her and her. He and she. Church and state. American land of the free home of the brave. Our soldiers don't die for freedom for some. Long live the us of a.
  • Luke and 15 others like this.
  • Ryan What is the definition of marriage, Luke? (and no platitudes, please.)
    October 8, 2014 at 2:34pm · Like · 1
  • Luke Great question. I am not the dude to ask. My definition may be different then yours. Ryan. I say pray about it and ask what Jesus would say about love and pope Fransisco. And the franscicano prayer.
    October 8, 2014 at 3:58pm · Like
  • Ryan Yes, your definition obviously appears to be different than mine. That's why I asked you what exactly your definition is. I wasn't asking about Jesus, Pope Francis, or St. Francis, but why would we need to "ask them"? They've already given their definition (see Matt. 19 for example) clearly and emphatically (especially Pope Francis), and I agree with them. So the question remains, how do YOU define marriage?
    October 8, 2014 at 6:26pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Alan marriage takes place in many non-christian cultures - why the assumption that it's something inherently Christian? bizarre
    October 8, 2014 at 7:49pm · Like · 1
  • Alan why would i care what Matthew 19 states unless i took the bible literally? and if i took the bible literally then i would have to accept and condone all the *#$% that's mentioned in the old testament? ever read that? genocide? slavery? stoning of women? pretty barbaric *#$% - no thanks
    October 8, 2014 at 7:50pm · Like · 1
  • Gloria I believe that marriage is the commitment two people promise to each other based in pure love. I truly believe in marriage . My problem is where is that person lol
    October 8, 2014 at 8:02pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan Alan, I didn't bring up Jesus and had no intention of doing so, Luke did. I never said marriage is "something inherently Christian". The Catholic definition (again, brought up by Luke, not me) is indisputable. I'm just asking for Luke's definition of marriage for secular society. Luke, are you agreeing with Gloria's stated definition?
    October 8, 2014 at 8:26pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Ryan Gloria, I admire your willingness to offer something more than nonsensical platitudes (see "loveislove" or peruse our friend Luke's wall for many more examples). Two questions about your definition: 1) Does that mean the state should recognize my relationship with my grandmother as a "marriage"? (After all, the commitment we've promised to each other is based on pure love.) 2) On what grounds do you limit your definition to 2 people?
    October 8, 2014 at 9:14pm · Like · 1
  • Alan actually, i meant to apologize for my comments - not productive I'm sorry -
    October 8, 2014 at 9:22pm · Unlike · 2
  • Alan is just wish all people could get along - naively  - and feel that marriage between two people who love each other should be ok - regardless of religion, sexual orientation, whatever
    October 8, 2014 at 9:22pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan Alan, I'm just trying to bring the conversation back to an essential question: What is marriage? I think "two people who love each other" is lacking and I suspect you do too. Otherwise, I'm eligible to "marry" my son, my sister, my pastor, my grandmother, my best friend, or my 14-year-old goddaughter? All of these relationships fit your definition.
    October 8, 2014 at 9:34pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Alan good points - i guess id say: two consenting adults - not biologically related (as in, relatives - not as in, australopithicus)
    October 8, 2014 at 9:42pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan On what grounds do you exclude relatives? In other words, how is this discrimination justified? Also, on what ground do you limit it to 2? Why not polygamy or polyamory?  ...Read more

    Alan two more great questions - But I feel that lurking beneath these two questions is a deeper question- What is the basis for moral/ethical behavior? Or am I off base here? And these questions I think would require a pretty long discussion 
  • October 8, 2014 at 9:50pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan Hmm. That is an excellent question. While definitely not unrelated to the marriage question, I think it's possible to set morality/ethics aside while discussing "What is marriage?" People can disagree on many moral issues related to marriage but still come to see the logical reasons for the state's interest in marriage. So that's another question, why does the state issue marriage licenses in the first place? There are many, many types of relationships in society, including many "loving" ones? Why is marriage one of the only(?) relationships the state regulates (along with parent/child)? Why not issue friendship licenses? ...And I'd still like to know why you'd exclude relatives from "marrying"?
    October 8, 2014 at 10:33pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Luke I find this interesting. The fact the religious teacher who sees everything from the perspective of the archdiosece of Denver, the most conservative religious institution out there, is disavowing the questions I posed as my deal... frankly interesting. So Ryan you don't come at marriage from a religiosity view pious holy then thou view ... Really??? The reason I always bring up the love and compassion of Jesus, your pope and st. Francis is because if you studied the love in their hearts it might help you become less judgmental. That is all. I find your question to al very enlightened.
    October 11, 2014 at 3:43pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Ryan The compassion and love of Jesus, the Pope, and St. Francis compelled them and inspires me to make judgments about what is true and what is false, what is good and what is evil. So I'd love to hear an explanation of your personal judgment of me for making the same principled judgments that they (above) do. Yes, you know I'm convinced that the Sacrament of Marriage instituted by Jesus and taught/administered by His universal Catholic Church is correct. (Your comment about Arch-Den shows true ignorance regarding the nature of Catholicism.) But in anticipation of comments like Alan's initial one, I had no interest in bringing that Catholic view to the table in this discussion. Alan is correct - the state has no interest in regulating a Catholic sacrament, nor should it. But like every civilization in the history of the world, it does have an interest in regulating marriage. Now, in your post you promote radically revising the secular state's traditional definition of marriage. So I asked you to clarify exactly what definition you are proposing. Why won't you answer the question?
    October 9, 2014 at 10:49am · Edited · Like · 1
  • Gloria Exactly Alan!!
    October 9, 2014 at 7:30pm · Like · 1
  • Gloria And Ryan , I didn't specified that the commitment is between two people, non family, that feel attraction and love for each other.
    October 9, 2014 at 7:31pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan Gloria, I'll ask the same question I asked Alan. On what grounds do you exclude family members from "marrying"? Also, a commitment to what? What kind of attraction? I love my best friend. We are "committed" to our relationship and we are both attracted to each other's passion for discipleship, etc and our willingness to challenge the other to be a better person. Should the state regulate our relationship as a marriage?
    October 10, 2014 at 8:49am · Edited · Like · 1
  • Gloria I think my concept of marriage shouldn't be important! It's what you believe!
    October 11, 2014 at 8:32am · Like · 1
  • Luke Bravo Gloria
    October 11, 2014 at 8:38am · Like · 1
  • Ryan Thanks for responding, Gloria. Now you're backtracking, and we've demonstrated where all this so-called "marriage equality" stuff leads. Now it's "whatever you believe"? So then your limit of 2 people, exclusion of relatives, and required commitment, attraction, and love are all optional? Anything goes? An adult and a minor, two siblings, polygamy, group-marriage, neighbors seeking to share health insurance, etc.? ...In all my discussions about marriage, this is the inevitable conclusion for revisionists (i.e., those wishing to revise the state's traditional conjugal definition of marriage) like Luke. As you've discovered in this brief dialogue, once you change the definition to include two men or two women, you have no legal principle or justification for any limits, exclusions, or requirements at all. So in the end, you've admitted that you don't actually want to revise the definition of marriage, you want to abolish it. For if marriage means anything, it means nothing! And then we must ask, would the abolishment of marriage be good for society? Why has every civilization in the history of the world figured out that the state better regulate sexual relations between men and women? Why has every civilization been built on strong marriages, and why has every civilization crumbled because of unstable marriages? The 1970s revision of marriage (allowing "no-fault divorce") has been beyond disastrous for our society. What makes you think radically doubling-down on that colossal mistake is a good idea?
    October 11, 2014 at 2:53pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Gloria It doesn't matter. It's wrong only when you say it's wrong. I never want to convince nobody of my believes. I respect everyone's point of view. But I'm feeling so important, because of the attention paid to my comments. My dear twin thank you for making me famous jajajaja!!!!
    October 11, 2014 at 4:39pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan Gloria, we weren't talking about morality. We were simply considering what marriage policy is just and in the best interest of the state. You've effectively unraveled your own position of revision... But since you bring up right vs. wrong, just so we're clear: you're saying that if a 40-year-old male thinks it's not wrong to forcibly "marry" seven different 14-year-old girls, then it's not wrong? If someone thinks it's right to own slaves, then it's right? If Hitler thinks it's not wrong to send 6 million Jews to the gas chamber, then it's not wrong? You are unwilling to tell a child rapist that he's wrong?
    October 11, 2014 at 6:13pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Alan will eventually get back to this discussion  distracted by a ton of work currently
    October 12, 2014 at 9:22pm · Unlike · 2
  • Alan My two unsubstantial cents:

    1) Separation of church/religion and state seems wise

    2) In theory so does our government
    3) We value, as a society, “equality,” on multiple levels
    4) Countries with listless, unemployed, single men have multiple social problems
    5) In contrast, happily married adults likely contribute to the stability of communities 
    6) If we separate religion/church from matters of state but insist on state-sanctioned marriage, and we are interested in stability and equality, I think it’s only reasonable to extend the “right” to marriage to all adults regardless of gender, race, etc.
    7) A question – What is the harm in extending the right to marriage to people of any gender? Would such rights constitute a “threat” to the fabric of society? We clearly are ok with tolerating 20 to 30 thousand gun deaths a year (murder and suicide) because of our zeal for the “freedom” to own weapons. Does extending the right to marriage to gay persons somehow constitute more of a “threat” to society than gun violence, which we tolerate quite happily?
    October 15, 2014 at 9:27am · Like · 1
  • Gloria I love educated people!!!
    October 15, 2014 at 7:18pm · Like · 1
  • Ryan Alan,
    1. Yes, I've already said the state has no business regulating a Sacrament.

    2. Yes, it's wise to have a limited government.

    3. Yes, "All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights..." Amen.

    4. Ok?

    5. What an understatement! A strong marriage culture has been the foundation for every civilization in the history of the world, and unstable marriages have always led to a civilization's downfall.

    6. As written (taking words for their actual meaning), I don't disagree with this statement. Contrary to modern fantasies, there are only 2 genders. And all adults "regardless of gender or race" already do have the right to marry, in so far as they are eligible to marry and are seeking a MARITAL relationship. I am not eligible to get married, because I am already married to someone else. Should I claim unjust discrimination if my "religion" held it was ok to marry multiple people? Can a man claim unjust discrimination if he seeks to call his relationship with his sister or uncle or neighbor a "marriage"? The traditional conjugal view of marriage has nothing to do with unjust discrimination. This campaign for so-called "marriage equality" is a sentimental-sounding euphemism. We already have marriage equality. The real question is "WHAT IS MARRIAGE?", and Alan, neither you nor Luke have yet to fully answer this question, which I think is very telling. (I'm grateful to Gloria for carrying that line of questioning to its logical conclusion!)

    7. Since "people of any gender" already have the right to marry, I'm guessing you meant to say, "What's the harm in calling a relationship between two men or two women a 'marriage'?" And while I don't accept your premise regarding gun control and shootings, I don't see how getting sidetracked by that debate would be relevant to the issue at hand. "What's the harm in issuing 'marriage' licenses to same-sex couples?" This is a very worthy question to consider. Princeton's Prof. Robbie George, Ryan Anderson and others have brilliantly explained the inevitable harm, with solid research to back it up. The answer relies on 3 simple truths: Law tends to shape behavior. Beliefs shape behavior. And beliefs and behavior affect human interests and human well being.  

    Harm #1: It will destroy marriage! And as you noted above, marriage is the foundation of any stable society. That is, it is in the best interest of the state to regulate conjugal unions (btw, neither sodomy nor mutual masturbation form a conjugal union, of course) so as to legally unite them and any children conceived from their union. The fact that children are best raised to thrive as citizens/humans with their married biological parents is indisputable. So to change marriage to mean anything/nothing is a death-wish for society. A strong conjugal marriage culture - promoting exclusive, permanent unions ordered toward procreation and family life - is what is good for society. Your revisionist view would teach that marriage is fundamentally about emotional union, and put inconsistent feelings central to its vow. Any legal justification or social pressure for exclusivity or permanence (or excluding relatives for that matter) is gone with your view, as Gloria discovered. By warping people's view of marriage, revisionist policy would make them less able to realize this basic way of societal and individual thriving. We've already seen this tragically play out with revisionist's "no-fault divorce" laws.

    Harm #2: That state will balloon in attempts to replace the family. Again, we've already seen this since marriage culture has crumbled in the last 50 years. Because children fare best on most indicators of health and well-being when reared by their wedded biological parents, the further erosion of healthy marital norms would adversely affect children's health, education, and general formation. And the poorest communities will be hit the hardest! The state will balloon further to adjudicate breakup and custody issues, to meet the needs of spouses and children affected by divorce, and to feebly (attempt to) correct the challenges these children will face. Of course, the state obviously cannot replace the family. This simply has not worked. Ever.

    Harm #3: It will make mother and father superfluous. Redefining civil marriage will teach that a woman can be a father and a man can be a mother, which will make it even more socially acceptable for fathers to leave their families, or for children to be purposely created for a household without a mother or a father. The devastation caused by this has already been demonstrated by a mountain of evidence provided by secular social science. Doubling-down on this trend = societal suicide.

    Harm #4: It threatens moral and religious freedom. In the past, Luke has assured me that revisionists respect religious freedom. At this point, if anyone somehow believes that ridiculous claim, they must never watch/read the news. Since support for conjugal marriage is now treated like racism, the current trend toward homofascist tyranny is the logical result. EVERY DAY we can read a new story about photographers, caterers, bakers, florists, innkeepers, adoption/fostercare agency officials, pastors, etc. (heck, even sportscasters!) being forced to renounce their faith or lose their job/business. I know my days providing for my family as a parochial school administrator and theology teacher are numbered. So much for separation of church and state... or equality... or freedom.

    There's more, such as the undermining of friendship. But this is too long already. Let me know if you're able to come up with the revised definition of marriage you are proposing, with justified reasons for any limits, requirements, or exclusions. Thanks for the substantive conversation - a rarity on Facebook. Peace to you and yours.
    October 15, 2014 at 10:13pm · Edited · Like · 1

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