Changing definitions of marriage would isolate us from nature

By Barbara Baig, Special to the BDN
Posted Oct. 27, 2009, at 7:21 p.m.

Supporters of same-sex marriage argue: “If two people love each other, then they should be able to get married.” But love by itself does not necessarily justify marriage.

That’s because marriage is a cultural institution. Every human culture sets limits and restrictions on who may enter it. Typically the two people involved must be a certain age, or they must not be related in certain ways. For instance, a brother and sister may love each other, but not be allowed to marry.

Anthropologists have never found a culture that does not celebrate marriage. Nor have they found a single significant example of a culture that celebrates marriage between people of the same sex. Is that because people of the same sex have not loved each other until now? Certainly not. Homosexual relationships exist in nature and in many cultures. But same-sex marriage does not. Why?

To answer that question, we need to understand that marriage is not simply a private relationship of two people with a legal contract. Marriage is a social and spiritual institution, which is entered into by way of a community-sanctioned ceremony. That ceremony, and the institution itself, are designed to help us celebrate a basic principle of nature: that a man and a woman, together, can create new life.

Whatever else homosexual relationships may be, biologically speaking, they are sterile. They cannot create new life. As a result, they are, in every culture, outside the norm. And because homosexual relationships cannot create new life, they have not been celebrated as marriages.

Advocates of same-sex marriage argue that not all marriages result in children. That misses the point. When we celebrate a marriage between a woman and a man, we don’t demand that they procreate; we symbolically honor the reality — as defined by nature — that when new life comes into the world, it comes only through the union of woman and man. No matter how much same-sex marriage advocates may fume and argue, they cannot change that basic fact.

Those pushing to legalize homosexual marriage focus on marriage solely as a legal contract. They ignore the biological and cultural basis of marriage and, in the process, they push us further down the path of being disconnected from nature.

Now, humans do often set aside nature’s rules — usually with disastrous results — and we could do that in this case. But should we?

If we let the government impose a new legal definition of marriage, with no basis in nature or human cultural tradition, we also let them redefine marriage as a social and spiritual institution. What happens then?Same-sex marriage advocates claim, that, if we just go ahead and redefine marriage, nothing will change. But that’s not so. Letting the government redefine marriage will launch us into an experiment in social engineering without any consideration of what the consequences of that experiment might be.

For an indication of where this experiment might lead, though, we can look to Massachusetts. Since same-sex marriage became law there, homosexual marriage is now taught in some schools. Second-grade classrooms contain a picture book in which a prince kisses and marries another prince. Elementary school classes have been given talks on sex-change operations. An eighth-grade teacher in Brookline says she instructs her students in the “how-to” of homosexual activities.

When parents have complained, their concerns have been dismissed by school administrators and supervisors. And when some parents took their case to court, a federal judge ruled that, because marriage is legal in Massachusetts, public schools can include teaching about homosexual relationships as a way to prepare children to be citizens.

We all have to accept limitations on what we can have and what we can do. To believe otherwise is to succumb to the kind of greed that brought on our current economic crisis. To keep the traditional limits on marriage in place does not mean we hate homosexuals, or that we want to deny them basic civil rights. It means that we value marriage as a social and spiritual institution that keeps us connected to the way nature really works.

To vote for this definition of marriage, vote Yes on Question 1.

Barbara Baig is an educator and writer who lives in Down East Maine.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/10/27/opinion/changing-definitions-of-marriage-would-isolate-us-from-nature/ printed on September 21, 2014