Can Marriage Be Redefined? Part 1

6397849549_892ef11be1_mIt is what it is. This expression is often used with a shrug in response to some uncorrectable predicament, like a quarterback’s fumbled football; a stolen camera; or a flat tire making one late for a meeting.

But doesn’t the expression also fit situations that have a rock-solid base in reality that can’t be changed by manipulation or novelty, or even legal decree? Like marriage — with finality and without the shrug, we can say it is what it is. It is the covenanted union of one man and woman for life.

This is the understanding of millions on all continents. Even though pockets of disagreement may exist here and there, it can be said that such exceptions only prove the rule.

Therefore, whatever changes might be achieved in language and practice by bullying, or revising laws, or manipulating the media, the bulk of these millions will know in their hearts that marriage is what it is. In their eyes nothing can realistically be added to the above definition.

Most people would also insist that an apple is an apple. It is what it is. For them, even a federal law could not expand the definition of apples to include oranges also — not in reality, not in perception, and not in semantics. Apples and oranges are not the same — never have been, are not now, and never can be.

But certain elements in our society are seeking to force the redefinition of marriage upon our culture. They want to change the definition from its historic reality — one man and one woman in covenant for life. To do so they attempt to use the same word, marriage, to describe the legally bonded union of two men or two women.

But that would be a highly dissimilar union as compared with marriage. It needs a different name — like a contracted domestic agreement.

Recently a politician defended his pro-marriage stance by insisting on this long-accepted definition of marriage: “the union of one man and one woman without exception.” To undergird his point he added: “Marriage is what it is.”

To be sure, ours is a free society and we all have the freedom to relate with one another however we please. Besides, there are other ways people relate with some degree of permanence besides marriage — such as cohabitation or domestic contract. But those ways aren’t marriage.

That is, nature, history and traditions say marriage is an unalterable reality defined by clearly set criteria. The politician referred to above contended that he was advancing the view of marriage that traces as far back as human history can be known, and even governments can’t successfully rewrite deeply grooved history! Marriage is what it is.

There is time for myriads of people to speak up en masse and fight for the reality of marriage as one man and one woman covenanted together for life. For engagement starters there’s the Internet, newspaper columns, family friendly organizations, university courses, and church sponsored seminars. But whether millions do or do not speak up, real marriage is and will continue to be what it is.

(More next week)

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Photo credit: Fabio Sola Penna (via flickr.com)
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2 thoughts on “Can Marriage Be Redefined? Part 1

  1. Marriage,matrimony or wedlock.We know what it is ,what it means ,but it seems as if the ground is being torn from under our feet.The dictionary definition of marriage seems to be changing faster than the speed of light.

    I’m wondering why people want to use the same word for something different.Is it because they admire the covenant, or as Catholics and Orthodox Christians call it ,the sacrament, of marriage.In admiration ,do some want to apply the name to something different ,in order to gain cudos.Perhaps it’s as it was in centuries past in England ,where many a ‘man and wife’ were not actually legally wed , but claimed to be married ‘in common law’.

    Nowadays secular couples often live together and raise children ,but do not say they are married.They say they are partners or a couple or are living together.Sometimes in jest or ironically they say they are living together in sin.Perhaps this is an indication they feel thsat ideally they really ought to be wed,if only to please their parents or commit to their children.

    The elephant in the room ,of course, is sex.Sexual congress is the deeply emotional loving action by which a man and woman become one flesh in order to perpetuate humanity.In advanced civilizations this became a man and woman in the monogamous relationship of marriage,in Christendom ,between a man and woman joined together in a lifelong parnership ordained by God.

    For Christians it’s uncomplicated.Jesus Himself taught us what marriage means. God created male human and female human equal but different.Marriage is so these two halves of humanity can become one flesh.No longer two ,but one.How beautiful.What a gift God offers.Furthermore Jesus taught that what has been joined by God into one,no one must separate.

    Is it not admirable that two or more people want to share a home in loving concord?Two men could live like brothers in brotherly love.Two women as sister in sisterly love.Or a mixed gender group share a home in loving unit, .looking out for one another..Like a family,a different kind of family.Just like a monastery of monks live together or a convent of nuns.Or the crew of a submarine for that matter.

    But then the elephant in the room.Sex! The pure reason for sex is the sublime means through which humanity is perpetuated,by God’s design,we of faith believe.A non believer may see it as the chaotic forces of nature,the blind watchmaker ( Dame Nature perpetuating each species through hormones).Rather a cold clinical notion. .

    But sex can be diminished into something even less.Into mere superficial tittilation , temporary gratification of the senses , a kind of robotic response to physical urges sometimes devoid of any love or respect.Humanity at the command of bodily impulses ,with no purpose,neither marital bonding nor family creating. All mystery evaporates,there is no divine presence in this.

    I don’t know whether sex is an essential component of marriage I’m a bachelor who raised but never begat children..I’ve heard of celibate marriage.Dame Margery Kempe who walked from England to Jerusalem, advocated celibate marriage.She was a 14th century devout Christian mystic writer ,friend of Julian of Norwich,She advocated celibacy in marriage,but only after she had borne a large family.But I’m sure it could work if mutually desired.There are other ways of bonding and showing affection.Sex is only a tiny part of marriage timewise,after all.

    There are marriages without children ,either by design or ,sadly, inability.Here adoption can be fulfilling for both couple and children.Then there are child focussed families,where husband and wife bring up a family together then see them bild their own families..The blessing of grandchildren follow.

    There is of course one complication already .There are of two kinds of wedding – church wedding and registry wedding.But a wedding is not a marriage,merely the opening ceremony.

    Last year,in UK ,our Conservative government , rather unconservative of tradition,passed a law to legalize same gender marriages.But as far as I know same gender couples cannot wed in a church ,certainly not in the established UK church,the Angican church ,comprising in UK the Church of England, the Church in Wales etc.

    In the Anglican Communion in USA & Canada this may differ.The Anglican Church doesn’t have a centralized governance..Some joke it has very little unified doctrine either, but being Christian and Bible based is what matters. Calvinists,high Catholics ,Evangelicals, plain Protestant,Wesleyans ,charismatic s: all congregate in the Anglican church.Who knows but some sections may one day favour same gender church weddings.Not no though ,not yet .

    I suppose marriage as we know it could change it’s name to real marriage.But cannot those who seek to take the name marriage ,find a name for the arrangements they seek.

    This weeks ‘Just Call Me Pastor’ has been a very cogent argument for heeding Jesus Christ’s Biblical message of what marriage is and must be.Not , I hope, a lone voice in the wilderness,but so many voices are now being raised in opposition to what Jesus Christ unnqivically teaches marriage is.

  2. p.s.Dear Pastor ,this week’s blog is a timely piece for Ukers.February 7th marks the start of UK National Marriage Week.

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