The Threat of _______ Marriage

A couple weeks back, the local Minneapolis Strib carried this Op Ed on the slippery slope of gay marriage.  Local writer Katherine Kersten made an impassioned plea against gay marriage based on the following logic:

The primary purpose of marriage is to ensure the best environment for rearing the children born of male-female sexual acts. Marriage channels men’s and women’s sexual attraction into productive ends, and harnesses the male sex drive by binding men to the mothers of their children. The evidence is overwhelming: Boys and girls flourish best with a married mother and father, who perform different and complementary roles in preparing them to deal with the world and the opposite sex.

Aside from one of the more depressing views on people I have seen, she never produces one bit of this overwhelming evidence.  But hey, it’s overwhelming.  She does cite the example of European countries that allow gay marriage:

In European countries and American states where same-sex marriage is legal, the proportion of gays choosing to marry is well below that of the heterosexual population. In America, about two-thirds of gay couples who seek legal recognition are lesbians. The larger society does not expect or pressure gay people to marry — for them, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Over time, this attitude could reshape the larger institution of marriage. As social norms that have encouraged men and women to take on the hard work of raising a family unravel, heterosexual couples are less likely to see marriage as important or relevant. Increasingly, marriage is likely to become just one of many options in a lifestyle smorgasbord.

As if this attitude has not permeated our culture.  We already see “children” as one of many reasons for marrying.  People no longer get married so they can have kids.  They get married because they really dig the person they are with, they may not be interested in kids.

If marriage is primarily about children, some ask, what about infertile and older couples? If infertile male-female couples do adopt or have a child, that child will have a mother and father. The human body’s design makes clear that men and women — whatever their age — are naturally directed toward each other and complement one another.

Gay couples can adopt.  And most gay couples with kids I am sure have heterosexual couples they can point to in helping their heterosexual child understand heterosexual marriage.

And really?  This is where we should know Katherine Kersten is not making a thought out or intellectual argument:

Same-sex marriage would not — as advocates claim — merely extend the benefits of marriage to more people. It would gut marriage of its fundamental meaning and transform it from an institution centered on children and the mother/father nuclear family to one centered on adults.

Really, folks?  This particular argument is crap.  And if you are against gay marriage and use it?  You are full of crap.  Marriage has never been about a mother/father nuclear family until the fifties.  Throughout history, the accepted concept of family included more than one wife, or concubines.  The Bible’s big families were not nuclear families.  The Bible treats family as fairly mallable.  It was biblical rule that if a man died before his wife conceived a child, the man’s brother was honor bound to impregnate her to carry on the dead man’s family line.

You can certainly argue that marriage has traditionally been “one man one woman.”  But you cannot argue that it has traditionally been about the “nuclear family.”  The Bible mentions that Jesus had brothers and sisters.  Catholics believe that Mary retained her virginity after giving birth to Jesus.  He magically passed through her.  She never had any kids after Jesus.  She is the ever-virgin.  So, how do Catholics get around verses that talk about Jesus’ brothers and sisters?  Well, one way is that they argue that in the days of Jesus, people would refer to family members such as cousins as “brothers” or “sisters”.  I don’t know if I buy it…but it tells us one thing… in Jesus’ day?  The concept of the “nuclear” family wasn’t one they were big on.

Courts are also beginning to upend our ideas about parenthood — jettisoning biological ties, recognizing “psychological” parents and including three-parent arrangements, with unpredictable results.

Parenting has never been exclusively about biological ties, in the past or present.    It is a myth to say it was.  Whether through death or divorce or just not being present, people have stepped in and raised a child that was not their biologically.

Which leads to a point she tries to make:

Once marriage is stripped of its organic purpose, why restrict it to two people? Two lesbians and the sperm donor for their child, polygamists, bisexuals: All will want society to recognize and respect their relationships.

Polygamy, like it or not, falls into traditional family structures.  It was declared unacceptable late in the game.  Think about it… governments outlawing polygamy went and radically changed marriage into one centered on one man, one woman and biological kids.  We tampered with marriage and it’s still here.  Go Figure.


One Comment

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  1. Even her points that are arguably valid – do gays marry less often than straights? – my thought is, “So what?” Heterosexual marriage is on the decline in many countries; the age of first marriage is up; the number of children has its peaks and valleys, but is generally trending downward. Is that a function of gay marriage? No, it’s a function of a higher divorce rate (and less cultural disdain of unmarried couples living together), greater number of women in the workforce , any number of factors that have ZERO to do with gay marriage.

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