17 November 2008

What Is Marriage Anyway?

Finally, I've found someone else who seems to be asking what I've been asking. And at the heart of debates over whether gay marriage should be legal is that very question: what is marriage? What's it for? Who's it for? Is that why the focus has gone to clearly defining marriage constitutionally?

I can't help but ask certain questions in relation to this line of thought: maybe marriage is nothing more nor less than a family-building (ideally procreative) union of a man and a woman independent of love or affection. Have we over-romanticized the whole thing in modern Western culture? Have we perverted the whole concept of marriage into this romanticized, bonding-of-souls ideal that has little to do with its origins or hundreds/thousands of years of social constructs? Perhaps the ideal would be both the love/passion and the dedication of contractual agreement, but they needn't coincide. Cultures in which arranged marriages are the norm would probably insist quite vehemently that marriage is not ultimately, primarily about love. And maybe they're right.

Maybe plural marriage is, in fact, the highest order of marriage, as it is a matter of dedication, respect, care-taking, community, union of people into industrious units of society. I can't imagine the children had much in the way of male role models except from a distant, detached perspective, which doesn't seem very healthy to me. Isn't that what makes kids gay?

Maybe marriage really is for rearing children, and therefore, nobody should ever use birth control, and sex isn't so much an experience to unite two bodies and souls into one intimately climactic experience shared between only those two but is, after all, simply a means of creating life. The good feelings and intimacy are incidental bonuses. Therefore, sexual intercourse should be practiced only when a child is desired. Sex for recreation, even between spouses, should be eschewed as lustful and selfish spilling of seed, as it does not fulfill its intended purpose but focuses only on the pleasure, the hedonic reward without the dedication to its divine end.

Maybe couples found to be infertile and who refuse to adopt children should be forced into annulment because their marriage is rendered invalid and runs counter to the very foundation of society.

Perhaps divorce should be illegal except in cases of unrepentant adultery or relentless physical abuse verified by a state-appointed physician.

Perhaps parentless children are better off staying in the orphanage or various, transitory foster homes and being brought up properly there than being raised by two dedicated fathers or mothers in a stable but non-ideal (even morally abominable) home. Maybe it's more "right" for a single person to raise adopted children without the help of a partner with whom to share the workload or household duties than to be raised by two people of homogeneous gender representation.

Or could it be this simple, practical applications or implications aside: marriage was meant for nuclear families, a mother and father and children, and no matter how many ways we may have messed it up and degraded it so far, and no matter what other civil union arrangements can be made, there's no sense in obliterating its original significance any more than we already have?

Perhaps there's a touch of edgy cynicism to my questions, but my intent is not to skewer or jab or otherwise engage in some kind of verbal passive aggressiveness. I merely mean to ask tough questions I'd usually rather not even look at but which I believe must be asked if the issues are to be approached honestly or fairly. Just a thought. Or two.


A.J. said...

Brigham young had 55 wives and 57 children he must have been an absent father to most of his kids. How many were gay? I wonder.

invisible said...

I hear it is usually one out of every ten - so at least five of 'em.