“A marriage is an interpersonal relationship with governmental, social, or religious recognition, usually intimate and sexual, and often created as a contract.” – Wikipedia
I think about marriage quite a bit. I’m surrounded by people that take it and the privileges that it affords for granted. As a person on the outside looking in, the apparent lack of respect that many people have for it is saddening and astonishing. I long to partake of something that they seem to have little or no reverence for.
Many opponents of same-sex marriage rely on the argument that God created the institution and designed it to be between one man and one woman. While this may work well for mobilizing the conservative base, it’s more reflective of a personal aversion to gay marriage than biblical truth.
Marriage, as we know it, seems to be a relatively modern concept. Two people meet, fall in love, and decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together. They normally have a public ceremony, frequently in a church, where they are surrounded by friends and family who act as witnesses to their vows of faithfulness and dedication. This is often a far cry from the versions presented in scripture.
Historically and biblically, marriage took a variety of forms – sometimes monogamous, oftentimes polygamous. People were joined in matrimony for many different reasons including improving their social status, forming alliances between political parties, or through arrangements made without their knowledge or involvement. Romance didn’t seem to play a significant part in these unions.
Using religion of any sort as a barrier to uniting homosexuals is faulty. Marriage may be associated with religion, but it is definitely no longer only a religious institution in this country. Athiests and Wiccans can marry without restriction, yet neither of them ask for the blessing of a church or holy text. The Christian community still considers their marriages valid and bestowed with all the blessings normally associated with matrimony.
Some supporters of libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul argue that marriage shouldn’t even be recognized by the government, since marriage usually has a religious connotation. They believe that straight and gay couples should be able to enter into civil unions and be provided the same rights afforded to married couples. This facilitates keeping religion and government separate, while providing personal rights to persons who don’t have them under current law.
I find their stance interesting, but must admit that I want marriage and all the rights and responsiblities that come with it. “Marriage” has a more personal ring to it than “civil union”, at least for me. If and when I’m able to experience the tradition, I want people to understand that it isn’t only a legal contract, but a personal and spiritual one as well.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
How much opposition to gay marriage is based on fear of the unknown? Many conservatives feel that homosexual unions will actually threaten their own marriage in some way, but it seems that only the two people involved in a relationship can affect its outcome. There is also no credible evidence that it would have a detrimental effect on society, so most of the bias remains completely unfounded.
The American Anthropological Association released the following statement in 2004:
“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.”
I have no doubt that one day I will be able to legally join with the one that I love. My ceremony may be termed a civil union, but I pray that God will place His blessing upon it and help us make it a true marriage.