Friday, June 12, 2015

The Case for Traditional Marriage


Whether it admits to this or not, our culture views marriage as a contract two people enter into once they’re overcome by affectionate feelings, in which they remain as long as it’s agreed on by both parties. Quite naturally this has led the gay community to ask, “if this is marriage, then why can’t we be a part of it?”
But this isn’t marriage, and in this post I intend to show what marriage is. Bear with me as I work backwards to build my case, since my argument starts with a story.

I was completely unprepared for what would happen to me the day my daughter was born.
Sure I’d felt a general, low level of excitement at the thought of meeting her—it was neat to feel her kick in her mother’s womb, or see her profile on the ultrasound—but something happened to me when she came out, something like magic, or like the Mule adjusting my internal make-up, and I was overcome with emotion. (I’m not even sure emotion is the right word to describe it, but that one seems more nearly correct than any other word I can think of.)
 
It’s not an emotion like empathizing with something, not like watching a movie and having the performance leave an impression on you, but the kind of emotion that reaches into you, or through you, and changes you. It’s like a punch to the nose that makes you tear up, without pain. I felt my affections, my will, my dispositions being permanently altered. The rednecks call it, “being wrapped,” which isn’t a bad description, but I don’t think it conveys enough the almost physical force of being hit by a cold, heavy, 6 foot tall Pacific Ocean sleeper wave. It’s like being stuffed with so many good and seemingly conflicting feelings that your ability to hold them all together is shattered and you have to have a new container. It’s difficult to describe, really, but the effect is that you’re about 1000% less selfish than you were one second earlier. Non-believers even describe it as magical, spiritual, religious, as feeling like they’d witnessed a miracle. They say they found new levels of love and respect for the mother of their children, and I think that empathy comes as a result of the change.
After it was over I realized I’d felt that same thing once before—at my wedding. The moment the doors opened and I saw my future wife standing down the hallway from me, about to come to me, it got me. (My mother-in-law very wisely taught me to watch the groom as it trounces him before turning to look at the bride.) The baby version was the mirror image of it, the echo of it. My heart was telling me this baby was the physical manifestation of my union with her mother. Our act of love had overflowed to produce a whole new person who was hopelessly dependent on us to teach her about life. And as a product of half of both of us she was entitled to both of us. It’s was not only her right, but her deepest need to have her parents teach her absolutely everything, and I’d just gotten a big shot of everything it takes to make that happen right there.

Kids are a marriage come to life, or you could say marriage is the bond between a man and a woman that overflows into children and lasts the rest of your lives. Does marriage always manifest itself as children? Well no, sometimes the bodies of one or more person is damaged by something in this ruined world and it’s not possible. But that doesn’t lessen the fact that children are the walking, talking, physical representation of a marriage. Or that marriage that brings children to life, being the living expression of your one flesh union, and showing through their helpless dependency the proof that marriage is more than a biological reproductive act.
Now this is the part where I answer the objections. What about adoption? What about single parent families? What about a 14 year old girl who has a kid with a traveling Islamic fishmonger whom she never sees again? What about two 40 year olds who marry and can’t have a baby? They all boil down to one argument:  what about sin?
And to that I say, so what? So what if physical decay has rendered that union incapable of producing children? So what if a loser desires to steal the fruits from a tree he isn’t tending? Sin doesn’t change what a thing is it just sabotages it, or undercuts it, but the thing still remains itself. Does a man missing his legs prove humans normally don’t have two legs? Does the existence of the homeless man prove there are no such things as homes? An orphan doesn’t prove that there’s no such thing as marriage, it only proves that it’s devastatingly possible for someone to lose the two people who loves them most and produced them.

“Wait a minute” you say, “that’s a cheap shot! How can you assert a marriage is seen in kids? How can you blithely spout of the stupid notion that marriage just is? You’re only able to route any opposition to your view because you’ve defined it as the way things are, like a physical law!” Yes, exactly. It’s right up there with the law of identity. Marriage is a fundamental principle to the universe. Earth’s gravity pulls things downward. There is in each of us a conscience. Marriage is the covenant union between a man and woman which leads to kids. If you swear sexual fidelity to a brick that’s not marriage. If you to make vows to another man, that’s not marriage. In these cases the two things are inherently, naturally, biologically incapable of procreation, and with that off the table, so goes marriage. Marriage just is. No amount of pretending or good feelings can change that. And for that reason it’s not only a wonderful gift, but a completely invulnerable one. Glory be to God, marriage is.
If you have trouble understanding or accepting this then let me urge you to stop over complicating it. Marriage is a thing like an addition problem in math, or a soundwave, it has components to it, but ultimately it must be grasped as a whole, as something that is a part of reality and just is.

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