Friday, June 11, 2010

What is a Marriage?

I had every intention of writing about all the wonderful family time we enjoyed on a brief vacation, but I'm going to delay those posts for a while. At the risk of offending some of my favorite people, I'm going to write about gay rights and marriage. If you can deal with the subject in a rational way, keep reading. If not, check in another time.

I have the pleasure of a free New York Times newpaper on my computer every morning. They haven't noticed that I'm getting it for free, even though I completed a survey saying I would be happy to pay a reasonable amount for a quality newpaper, so I just enjoy. Today's editorial piece sparked a passion in me that I thought might have been lost. A passion for equal rights. To read the article, hopefully for free, go to

I have long been in favor equal rights for all humans on the planet, and in my book that includes homosexuals. My moral character, however, still struggles with sexual freedoms, particularly ones in which there might be a victim...pedophelia, un-safe sexual practices, etc. But there's no slippery slope in my mind at all. In my opinion, a committed relationship between two consenting adults is one deserving of honor and celebration, and in most societies we call that a marriage.

Wedding ceremonies in most cultures involve a commitment for life to another person. We promise to love, honor, and cherish or obey, "for better or worse,till death us do part". It's not easy, and most of us have no idea how awful the "worse" part is going to be until it happens, but most of us steel ourselves and charge ahead because of our commitment to that promise.

The bibical passages that have been used by some to campaign against same-sex marriages are part of an antiquated code that was useful in the past in order to ensure the survival of civilization. I could liken them to Jewish dietary laws and keeping Kosher. That was necessary to prevent bacterial contamination in ancient days, but is no longer necessary, and hence an optional part of being a Jew.

I could be mistaken, but I believe that the passages forbidding lying with a person of the same sex were originally intended to ensure the growth of the tribe or family. Lying with a person of the same sex did nothing to increase population, which was the key to survival. If you fast forward about two thousand years, an increase in numbers of the human race has become something we should probably be interested in curtailing, not promoting. I often wonder how many of the poor children in the world would be less so if they were born into smaller, self-sufficient families. So marriage doesn't necessitate procreation in order to be a valid institution any more.
Many of the marriage laws were designed to ensure inheritance by "legitimate (usually male) heirs". In today's environment, DNA tests pretty much preclude the necessity for rules prescribing virginity of the bride and assumption that all children born to the union are from her husband. I'm not saying that these ideals don't serve any purpose anymore, just that they may not serve as the only means to an end. Many children today are born out of wedlock, but there are ways to ensure that those children are provided for by their parents.

In the families that do exist, two loving parents are pretty much universally acknowledged as the ideal in almost all cultures. In the modern family, the caregiving obligations increasingly fall on either male or female parent, depending on who is better at it or has time for it. My sons in law have given many a bottle and bath and read bedtime stories ad infinitum. Those were all mommy duties when I was a child. But times change. Today, the gender of the parent doesn't matter as much as the loving care given.

So, why can't we all take a giant step forward into the twenty first century, assure all people regardless of gender equal rights, including marriage should they choose. And while we're at it, let's celebrate that choice with a wedding and call it a marriage, which is what it is.



Ted Daniel said...

A very good argument Miss Janie. A very enlightened presentation of the issues, but an argument that must be met with open minds. Unfortunately..
ain't enough of them, not in these parts anyway. Love your blogs.

Adelaide Dupont said...

I don't like sexual practices in which there are victims, either, Janie.

(There is no victimless practice where there is a difference in power!)