Yes, I know you have seen this video either at Desiring God or at TGC. That doesn't mean you shouldn't watch it again. Prior to the bombshell announcement last week here at TeamPyro, we were talking about what an appropriate secular definition of "marriage" was in order to sort of find our way to the place where we could understand what those demanding "same-sex marriage" were asking us for. Look: let's be serious. I am perfectly willing to concede that when we start talking about homosexuality, the LBGT people listening probably hear something like this. Confessing that, or admitting that, or otherwise coming to terms with that frankly doesn't cost us anything. It probably actually improves us by being able to walk 10 feet in the other guy's shoes.
But let's also be fair: the other side ought to be willing to demonstrate what they say they expect from us. That is: if they want us to understand what we sound like to them, they have to at least ask themselves, "I wonder what we sound like to the other side?" It's naive at least to demand someone hurdle the empathy barrier because they object to your demands, but in making your demands you have no intention of even facing good manners -- let alone demonstrate empathy.
But alert reader "Peter" found the previous thread and asked the astute question, "It is unclear to me why you need a definition of marriage. I am also unclear whether you are looking for a legal, sociological, or poetical definition. Cannot homosexuals just say they want the same 'rights and privileges' that the institution of marriage currently provides to heterosexual couples?"
The answer, frankly, is "no."
If I told Peter that all I really want from life is all the "rights and privileges" of a handicapped person so that I can park in their spaces, would my demand seem at all out of scope? See: the law plainly distinguishes between everyone else and the class of people who qualify for handicapped privileges in every parking lot in America. It's not a constitutional crisis to say that everyone is not created equal, and giving a privilege to those for whom the parking places are designated is not the moral equivalent of racism.
"Well," Peter may retort, "that's because federal law has adopted a standard of equal access for public accommodations (ADA title III), and under that standard we 'must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment.' The same-sex advocate is asking for the same thing: access, and an end to segregation and unequal treatment." That is: they want a leg-up to level the playing field because in some way, the default state would be to leave them out.
There are three reasons this is probably unwise for Peter to go this way:
1. The assumption has to be that the ones being so-called "segregated" are in some way are "[people] who [have] a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." If the advocates for same-sex marriage want to establish the problem as a "disability," that's a new one on me. It would change the way this discussion plays out immediately. Of course they do not see themselves this way, and I'm not asking them to. But I am asking them to see that there is at least one major way in which definitions matter: they qualify the reason(s) for special privileges.
2. It should be noted that married is not a right per se, but a privilege. That is: if you are an intolerable cretin or a serial adulterer, the law recognizes that you are unfit for marriage. If you are even infertile, the law recognizes that another person may see that as an insurmountable obstacle to being married to you. You do not have a right to be married if you are unqualified or disqualified for marriage. If this ever becomes untrue, I suspect that we won't have to worry about whether or not same-sex marriage is a question anymore. If the state becomes the one to arbitrate who marries whom and whether it stays in force, I'll bet a lot of people will fight for the right to stay single forever.
3. There's more to it than the law. See: the problem here which the advocates for same-sex marriage simply gloss over is that "rights and privileges" is a fairly-callow way to view the institution. In fact, most days "rights and privileges" don't enter into it at all.
As Johnny Depp is clever enough to point out, "Marriage is really from soul to soul, heart to heart. You don't need somebody to say, okay you're married." At least, until you don't want to be anymore. Let's say, instead, that we adopt the brief definition provided by commenter Luke Wolford, who cites Living Sociologically by Renzetti and Curran. He says the secular defition of marriage is given thus:
"Marriage: a socially approved union of two or more people in which each is expected to fulfill specific economic, sexual, and caregiving obligations and responsibilities."What sort of proposal do you think this sort of arrangement would generate? We covered that last time, but there aren't a lot of Romantic Comedies which would spring forth from this understanding of marriage. In fact, I doubt there would be a lot of dour, duty-to-the-state sort of marriages if this is all that the institution ought to mean.
But think about this now: what if marriage means what Larissa says it means:
Marrying Ian meant that I was signing on to things that I donʼt think I ever wouldʼve chosen for myself — working my whole life, having a husband who canʼt be left alone, managing his caregivers, remembering to get the oil changed, advocating for medical care, balancing checkbooks, and on. The practical costs felt huge, and those didnʼt even touch on the emotional and spiritual battles that I would face.
But in light of all the practicals, and emotionals, it was so very simple: we love each other. And we love God. And we believe He is a sovereign and loving God who rules all things.
Our pastor who married us, Mark Altrogge, was with us on the day that our marriage was approved by a local judge. Because of Ian’s condition, the courts had to decide that it was in his best interest to be married. Mark said that he’ll never forget the words of the judge who approved our marriage license: “You two exemplify what love is all about. I believe that marriage will not only benefit you both but our community, and hope that everyone in this city could see your love for one another.”This is why the definitions matter, and why, frankly, the law cannot hand this over to anyone. It is outside of the law's purview. It is not about the generation of "rights and privileges," but about the way loves works -- which is a surrendering of rights in order to serve and to save another person.
The rest, I think, is best left to the comments. Mind your manners.