Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Same Sex 'Marriage' And The Trouble With Words

Here's the thing about redefining marriage to suit cultural trends; it's never going to stop.

What I mean by that is not necessarily that in the year 2045 people will be wedding their golden retrievers, (though they may be, in Boulder) but that in seeking to redefine a traditional (aka long-held) understanding of what something is, we unhinge our little corner of existence from the rest of human history and push off for some unknown shore, secure in our chronological snobbery that we have at last 'gotten it right' where thousands of years and millions of minds of human history have failed.

Because that's realistic, right? To believe that here, today, we are somehow smarter/faster/stronger/more moral/more enlightened than the entire mass of humanity upon whose bones we stand.

I beg to differ.

Redefining marriage as something other than 'one man, one woman, one lifetime' is to attempt fundamentally alter the very thing which we collectively understand and recognize marriage to be.

Proponents of gay 'marriage' and the like will argue that it is precisely a poverty of understanding which prevents people from being 'open minded' enough to recognize marriages between two members of the same sex. But they fail to recognize that fundamental truths are not arrived at by unanimous consensus. Rather, the consensus follows the recognition of reality.

It's like this. Even if some state or country or local municipality unanimously votes to change the tiresome name of the color 'red' to the more pleasing moniker 'dusty granola shimmer,' that doesn't mean folks pulling up at stoplights will begin to see 'dusty granola shimmer' and hit the brakes. It may over time start to be called another thing, but its essential redness remains intact. It is red in its essence, and we can re-name it and re-title it a thousand times, but it won't change the way light hits the retina and reflects a message of fiery brightness to the brain.

Maybe that analogy was terrible, but so is the logic behind the effort to 'redefine' marriage as some kind of lifelong slumber party with health benefits.

I don't mean to be flippant here. I know there are people who struggle with same sex attraction, who don't struggle with same sex attraction and believe with every fiber of their being that they are gay and were made to be in relationship with a person of their same sex. But that individual belief, that personal experience should not - does not - have the power to alter reality.

For decades, the culture at large has been desperately trying to alter and ignore this reality. The reality that men and women are made to be in relation with one another, to bring forth life together, and to parent and educate that life into adulthood. Enter contraception, abortion, broken and abandoned families and no fault divorce, and is it any wonder that the very mention of the 'sanctity' of marriage in a culture such as ours is greeted with guffaws and incredulous laughter.

Are all these things linked?  Maybe it isn't apparent. But it seems to me that when the majority of a culture rejects the divinely inspired and ordained order and meaning of a thing, namely, marriage, then those who would defend it from subsequent attacks have little left to stand on.

Why shouldn't gay people have the right to sign a contract, throw a party, and pledge their lives to another person and call it marriage? Will their union ever be capable of producing love so incarnate it needs to be named 9 months later?

Well, no.

But there are so many sterilized 'straight' marriages out there now that the argument falls on deaf ears.

Why wouldn't a person vote to allow two people who love each other to call one another 'spouse' on legal documents and hospital paperwork? If spousal love is no longer understood to be a reflection of the life-giving, self-immolating and re-creating fire of the Trinity, then why not let everyone with the inclination claim it as such?

They're just words, aren't they?

Or are we defending something more than words here...are we defending reality itself from the decline and decay of a language - and with it, a civilization?

Just some food for thought on this Election Day.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make myself a big plate of nachos dripping in cheese and call it a salad. Because that feels right to me, and very true. No matter what the scale tells me tomorrow morning.

3 comments:

  1. I like this one: If you called a horse's tail a leg, how many legs would it have? Those who would answer "five" are wrong. Calling something by a new word doesn't make it that word. The horse would still have four legs and one leg-formerly-known-as-tail.
    Same thing with gay "marriage". You can call it whatever you want, I suppose, but it's not marriage. Any more than two licitly married people divorcing and then forming relationships with other people have "remarried".

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  2. I'm dying. Enjoy your salad. Also, tell me where you went to school and all of the books you've ever read. I need to be as well-written as you :)

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