Skip to comments.Redefining Marriage Raises Concerns For Children and Society
Posted on 02/14/2013 1:48:56 PM PST by Kaslin
NOTE: This is the sixth and final column in a series of columns related to National Marriage Week, Feb. 7-14, 2013. The fifth column is available here.
Much of the debate surrounding same-sex marriage asks about societal harms. Many advocates of the change quickly dismiss the question and insist that a redefinition of marriage wont hurt anyone. But that conclusion proceeds from a misperception about what marriage isa failure to grasp marriages role as a public institution that shapes our thoughts and actions.
Marriage is not merely a legal arrangement that bestows various benefits and obligations on its participants. It is a vibrant social institution whose norms (that is, shared public expectations)such as exclusivity in sex, permanence in commitment, and procreative in formmake up much of our social fabric. Altering marriages core definition will inevitably change the publics understanding of the institution and, in so doing, affect societys acceptance of the cultural norms associated with it.
Advocates of redefining marriage agree that so doing will drastically alter the publics views about marriage. Professor Nancy Cott, a supporter of same-sex marriage, acknowledges that that redefining marriage would definitely have an impact on the social meaning of marriage and that changing the public meaning of marriage would unquestionably have real world consequences.
Indeed, for many same-sex marriage supporters, this is the very point. E.J. Graff asserts in Retying the Knot that redefining marriage is a breathtakingly subversive idea because it will transform marriage from a child-centric institution that exists to join mother and father for the benefit of their children into adult-focused symbolism that will ever after stand for sexual choice, for cutting the link between sex and diapers.
This radical shift in the public understanding of marriage raises societal concerns. Because same-sex couples do not procreate, redefining marriage eviscerates marriages intrinsic connection to procreation and children. Such a shift in its meaning would remove marriage as societys foremost (and perhaps only) means for promoting the gold standard for childrena household headed by a childs own mother and father. And without a proper vehicle to promote the gold standard, the gold standard itself will be no longer. Instead, in a genderless marriage society, all child-rearing settings are perceived as indistinguishable, and the deep-seated interest of children in being raised by their own parents will be subordinated to other newly created rights of adults.
The decisions of courts mandating the redefinition of marriage confirm these concerns. Consider, for example, the trial court that invalidated Californias marriage law (known as Proposition 8). That court startlingly proclaimed that children derive no benefit at all from having both a male and a female parent, and that the genetic relationship between a parent and a child is irrelevant to a childs upbringing.
Redefining marriage through judicial decisions espousing this sort of rhetoric is particularly disconcerting. For such decisions put the force of our Constitution behind a conception of marriage that (1) severs it from any inherent connection to procreation and children, and (2) transforms marriage from a public institution with child-focused purposes into little more than a private, self-defined relationship focused on adults. Additionally, it denigrates the importance of mothers and fathers raising the children they create together.
Officially changing the public meaning of marriage in this manner sends a message that the desires of adults, as opposed to the needs of children, are the paramount concern of marriage. This, in turn, weakens the social norms encouraging parents, especially fathers, to make the sacrifices necessary to marry, remain married, and play an active role in raising their children.
Yet we know that, on average, every childrearing environment other than a home headed by a childs own mother and father produces suboptimal outcomes for children. Society should thus resist this attempt to shift the primary concern of marriage away from the needs of children to the desires of adults.
We Americans stand on a precipice regarding marriagean age-old (yet still vital) social institution. Although the ultimate outcome of redefining marriage cannot be fully foreseen from our current vantage point, the signs point to danger ahead. The People thus have the right to proceed with extreme caution and skepticism in these uncharted waters.
Bible says things will get worse, not better. Right?
we say we love children but so many just don't want them around....and sadly, apparently many freepers...
The attack by all political sides for over three decades against fatherhood ended it, and the subjective, emotion-evoking anecdote was their main tool.
I really think the slippery slope began when we accepted the working mother as a societal norm. We've accepted that children really don't need their mothers as mothers and their fathers as providers. Once that happened marriage/family became about something else.
Under the shariah laws that will be invoked it’s not against the law for the fathers to bang their minor sons and daughters. No wonder pedophiles and leftists support Islam and can not wait for the Constitution to be destroyed. They are salivating over it.../s
Under the shariah laws that will be invoked it’s not against the law for the fathers to bang their minor sons and daughters. No wonder pedophiles and leftists support Islam and cannot wait for the Constitution to be destroyed. They are salivating over it.../s
I think the slippery slope began when we decided that judges, pols, or the voting majority could somehow change the definition it uses to recognize marriage. It was always a danger with the state involved, Pope Leo XIII warned about this 130 years ago.
Kids are great. It’s the dumbass parents who insist the rest of us share in their lousy parenting experience. Mine were taught how to behave in public early. Your average soccer mom lets her brats scream and have a meltdown next to people who paid for a quiet dinner, ignoring the kid the whole time. Just more laziness from parents who expect the world to raise the kids they brought into the world.
Like most everything else, whatever fedgov touches it ruins. Get the feds out of the business of sanctioning or confering monetary benefits for marriage. Get them out of the divorce and child support enforcement business, too. They have no constitutional authority to be involved in any of the above.
“Marriage is a societal institution not a religious one.”
All I know is that in the modern era the state has the power to punish one if you disagree with whatever they are calling marriage at the time.
I think one of the reasons so many accept impossibilities like ‘gay marriage’ is because they have been conditioned that marriage comes from and is defined by the state. It exists because the state says it does—many times you will read about some faith that believes ‘gay marriage’ is possible but won’t recognize their own members ‘gay marriages’ until the state they are in also agrees. Which might be more insane than actually buyng into ‘gay marriage’ in the first place.
“Now, since the family and human society at large spring from marriage, these men will on no account allow matrimony to be the subject of the jurisdiction of the Church. Nay, they endeavor to deprive it of all holiness, and so bring it within the contracted sphere of those rights which, having been instituted by man, are ruled and administered by the civil jurisprudence of the community. Wherefore it necessarily follows that they attribute all power over marriage to civil rulers, and allow none whatever to the Church; and, when the Church exercises any such power, they think that she acts either by favor of the civil authority or to its injury. Now is the time, they say, for the heads of the State to vindicate their rights unflinchingly, and to do their best to settle all that relates to marriage according as to them seems good.”
Pope Leo XIII, 1880.
Of course he was mainly thinking about institutionalized civil divorce and remarriage at the time, and the danger this would pose for society. If the concept of ‘gay marriage’ would have been explained to him, his mitre would have gone off like a rocket. It makes you wonder the state will consider a marriage in another 130 years.
It’s not just the modern era. Society (state) has always defined marriage. Europe used to be called Christendom and that’s why the Church had power over several areas including marriage. When societies started to see themselves separate from the Church it lost it’s power. I wish the Church had spent less time trying to retain power and more time preaching to the masses about why scripture and Jesus were and are right about marriage. Only by convincing people about why marriage is right can western nations save themselves. Being American, I believe the greater influence is from the bottom up not the top down.
“Its not just the modern era. Society (state) has always defined marriage.”
It’s always had a definition, sometimes the definion coincided with the actual definition, sometimes it didn’t. If there is a disagreement between the state and faith, I know which one I am going with.
Me too. Catagorize that one under, Choose Life.
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