Dear Kids,

Let’s play ‘Guess What I’m Thinking. ‘

I bet that you’re thinking that I’ve said only marriages that result in children are true or successful marriages.

I win; you were.

But you lose; cause I didn’t. 🙂

See if this counter example makes sense of it:

‘How can you say that marriage is about two people loving one another and seeking mutual happiness, when plenty of married couples are miserably unhappy and unloving….

In other words, the outcome of particular marriages shouldn’t be confused with the purposes of marriage.’

Ditto with children.

Remember that I’ve claimed that people join Institutions for all sorts of reasons other than the one that the Institution was created to secure, and yet things are fine as long as the Institution manages to meet its designated end.

Let me play again. I’m good at this. I guess that you’re thinking, ‘But Dad, marriage is about love- not children.’

It’s like I’m a mind reader, huh? 🙂

But, this time you’d be both right and wrong- at least in the way you probably intended it. Marriage is about love; but there are more foundational and permanent types of love than the romantic sort, and marriage came into being because there is always the possibility of another who must be taken into loving account: the children that result from the union of man and wife. Marriage is about the love of children.

This is a correction that y’all need to really grasp. We tend to think that marriage is about Romantic Love and Sexual Expression, but remember that for most of mankind, marriages were arranged. You didn’t get to pick whom you married. People simply married whom they were told to, often fell in love and successfully and lovingly raised the next generation.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m certainly grateful that I was able to pick the one I am married to, but the point is that such a choice (and the feelings that go with it) are not a part of marriage as an institution.

The reason is obvious. These feelings come and go. Contrary to the revisionist  view that ‘Same Sex Marriage’ assumes, marriage is not about the expression of your sexual feelings. That’s exactly backwards. When it comes to sexual feelings, marriage is about swearing a lifelong oath that we will restrain our sexual desires when the need arises; and… it will arise for every married couple. Guaranteed. That’s not a bad thing. It simply means our humanity is working.

I want you to think about the actual form a marriage takes. Husband and Wife make a vow before God and man that they will be both faithful to each other and a loving companion- for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse- (and here’s the kicker) For how long: ‘for as as long as we both shall live.’

Notice that they do not say ‘as long as I’m in love; or as long as I don’t feel really attracted to someone else; or as long as I want to be married.’ The vows of marriage encompass all eventualities- good and bad. Marriage is for life.

We may not like this, but that- on the very face of what is done- is the reality of marriage.

Why would all human societies first dream up such a commitment- such an institution? Well, because it celebrates the realities of being human that we mentioned before, and it allows society to prosper in light of them. And so our society makes it difficult and expensive to end a marriage because a failed marriage is difficult and expensive for society.

We are blessed that Romantic love can be a part of our marriages, but like dorm life or football programs it is not the end of the institution. If we make romantic feelings the justifiable basis of marriage, then we falsify every marriage oath, guarantee that every marriage will one day end and – most importantly, loose the benefits that marriage has traditionally brought to society.

It may be good that a Same Sex Couple has romantic feeling for each other, but that isn’t the purpose (nor even a requirement) of marriage. Society may benefit from the fidelity of the relationship, but that relationship does not qualify at the most basic level for the societal end of marriage.

Humor me one more time: I bet you’re thinking: ‘but Dad, that means that infertile people can’t get married!’

A man and woman are not required to prove their fertility in order to be married. Nor is a child required to consummate a marriage. What is required? How is a marriage consummated? The man and woman must perform that remarkable act from which children result.  If the stars don’t align or precautions have been taken or something just isn’t working, its of no consequence as far as the institutional end of marriage is concerned. Laws are drawn up for the situations we expect- not the exceptions we might encounter, and most people who enter into wedlock are fertile. Children born to committed parents result. In addition the infertile married couple strengthens the institution of marriage by making love within the boundaries of a public and lifelong commitment of companionship and fidelity.

A same sex couple may pleasure each other, express their love for each other or accomplish any number of significant things through their sexual activity, but the one thing they cannot do is engage in that act from which children result.  Do you know that a marriage can be declared null, if it is revealed that this act is not performed. Its called an annulment. There is no marriage apart from that act which results in children. That too is part of the institution, which it is now claimed can be extend to Same Sex Couples.

There may be reasons to affirm the relationship, but it is not possible to affirm it as marriage…

… unless we redefine what mankind means by marriage. If we do that, then we must answer the questions of our humanity that marriage was created to address in a new way. Why? Because the institution of marriage is no longer there to answer them. We’ve done away with it, and the questions- because they are part of our humanity- remain.

That may or may not be a big deal. It depends on whether the realities of humanity that we’ve discussed are very pressing or not. It seems to me that it’s hard to imagine a more significant or foundational place for revision than whether we are comfortable with the very givenness of our humanity.

Love you all. I appreciate you hearing me out. We’ll pick this up tomorrow.

Dad

Letter I– The Discussion

Letter II– Equality

Letter III– Institutions

Letter IV– Human Stuff

Letter VI– What I Meant To Say

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