A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day …
— Proverbs 27:15
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
— First Corinthians 7:8-9
Same-Sex Marriages Do Threaten Traditional Ones
By Jeff Jacoby, The Oregonian … Thursday, August 9, 2001
It was a year ago last month that the Vermont law authorizing same-sex civil unions marriage by another name — took effect.
The New York Times marked the anniversary with a headline, “Ceremonies for gay couples have blended into Vermont life.”
The upbeat report noted only in passing that most Vermonters oppose the new law. Presumably they have reasons for not wanting legal recognition conferred on homosexual couples, but The Times had no room to mention them. It did have room, though, to dismiss those reasons — whatever they might be — as meritless.
“The sky has not fallen, Gov. Howard Dean said, and the institution of marriage has not collapsed. None of the dire predictions have come true. … There was a big rhubarb, a lot of fear-mongering, and now people realize there was nothing to be afraid of.
In The Wall Street Journal two days later, much the same point was made by Jonathan Rauch, an esteemed Washington journalist and vice-president of the Independent Gay Forum.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, he wrote, worry “that I unyoking marriage from its traditional male-female definition will destroy or severely weaken it. But this is an empirical proposition, and there is reason to doubt it. Opponents of same sex marriage have done a poor job of explaining why the health of heterosexual marriage depends on the exclusion of a small number of homosexuals.”
But Rauch’s doubts, and Dean’s reassurances notwithstanding, the threat posed by same-sex unions to traditional marriage and family life is all too real. Marriage is harmed by anything that diminishes its privileged status. It is weakened by anything that erodes the social sanctions that Judeo-Christian culture developed over the centuries for channeling men’s naturally unruly sexuality into a monogamous, lasting and domestic relationship with one woman. For proof, just look around.
Over the last 40 years, marriage has suffered one blow after another. The sexual revolution and the birth control pill made it much easier for men to enjoy women sexually without having to marry them. The legalization of abortion reduced the pressure on men to marry women they impregnated and reduced the need for women to wait for lasting love.
The widespread acceptance of unmarried cohabitation — an arrangement that used to be disdained as “shacking up” diminished marriage even further. Why get married if intimate companionship can be had without public vows and ceremony?
The old welfare state with its subsidies for single mothers subverted marriage by sending the unmistakable message that husbands were no longer essential for family life. And the rapid spread of no-fault divorce detached marriage from any assumption of permanence Where couples were once expected to stay married for as long as you both shall live and therefore to put effort into making their marriage work — the expectation today is that they will remain together only “for as long as you both shall love.”
If we now redefine marriage so it includes the union of two men or two women, we will be taking this bad situation and making it even worse.
No doubt the acceptance of same-sex marriage would remove whatever stigma homosexuality still bears, a goal many people would welcome. But it would do so at a severe cost to the most basic institution of our society.
For all the assaults marriage has taken, its fundamental purpose endures: to uphold and encourage the union of a man and a woman, the framework that is the healthiest and safest for the rearing of children, If marriage stops meaning even that, it will stop meaning anything at all.
jacohy@ globe. corn
Thank you for printing the wonderful parody on same sex unions by Jeff Jacoby. It was hysterical! When I read his statement: “ … channeling men’s naturally unruly sexuality into a monogamous, lasting and domestic relationship with one woman …” I laughed so hard I cried. The guy is a hopeless romantic! Another thing that I found really, really funny was his turning logic upside down on its head! He cleverly lays the premise that society has gotten so promiscuous and that marriage is on it’s last leg because of … the sexual revolution … birth control … abortion … unmarried cohabitation … the welfare state … no-fault divorce … and then in an amazing leap of logic lays the crumbling institution of marriage at the feet of homosexuality.
With tongue in cheek, I’m sure, he says that the cure for promiscuity is to deny lasting and loving relationships to a whole segment of society. Promiscuity is cured by promiscuity! Mr. Jacoby cleverly pokes a jibe at the homophobic right when he says what it comes down to is stigmatizing homosexuality. Had that remark been made about Jews or blacks your newspaper wouldn’t have printed Mr. Jacoby’s witty remarks.
As he concludes, Jeff pulls out all the stops and waves the flag for mom and apple pie … let’s keep things healthy and safe for (with a lump in his throat) the kids! This is where it ceases to be funny. The presence of a man and a woman and piece of paper doesn’t necessarily keep kids safe … the presence of authentic love and fierce devotion keeps kids safe. That authentic love and devotion can be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman or perhaps with a little bit more effort on their part … a man and a woman! I don’t mind straight people as long as they act gay.
As a gay man and a hopeless romantic, I hope one day to “walk the aisle” with that special man. I want my friends and family there. I want to cry when I look in his eyes and say, “For better or worse” … I want to wear his ring. AND … I want a piece of paper that says, “It’s gonna be more complicated than you think to get out of this, so tough it out when he leaves dirty dishes in the sink or flirts with the waiter.” I want a piece of paper that says he can come sit by me when I’m sick or that he has to give me some of the stuff back if we break up. I want a piece of paper that says we are married if we move to North Dakota or to Australia.
My brother has been married five times. I like his current wife a lot. I even suggested to her that they not get married because my brother seems to deteriorate after “I do.” It’s only fair that if Justin gets five chances, I should get at least one.
Dear Mr. Jacoby,
I want to ask you a few simple questions,
… How many gay people do you know?
… How many gay couples do you know?
… How many gay couples raising children do you know?
… How is allowing me the legal rights of marriage going to make your marriage worse?
… Have you ever met a gay teenager who was contemplating suicide?
… What is being in love like for you?
… How would you feel if you were in love but not allowed to express that publicly?
… If your child were gay and in love would you attend the ceremony of union?
… What was your parents’ marriage like?
Same sex unions are a “straw man” for you to attack for the ills of society. We did not create those ills and we suffer perhaps more greatly from them because of the stigmatization you speak of. Those ills will not go away because you keep us at bay in the shadows. They will only diminish if we fail to do what M. Scott Peck calls, “the work of love.”
As a former pastor I have performed many weddings…
… a Tongan wedding with roasted pig at the reception
… a Scrabble wedding in Reno, Nevada
… a shot-gun wedding with the bride barely out of high school and very pregnant
… a wedding that was annulled three weeks later
… a storybook wedding at Mt. Hood
… and many, many traditional church weddings
But the most beautiful wedding I performed was for two men who not only expressed their authentic love for one another but for the people that gathered around them. I wrapped my stole around their united hands and blessed them. That moment did not diminish the sacred institution, it deepened it in some very significant ways.
My grandfather divorced my grandmother over a woman he met a square dance. That was an unhealable breach for their children. Visiting Grandpa Jenkins and his wife Betty was a painful experience for me as child. It was a short visit in McMinnville, before leaving town to return to La Grande. Their house was very sterile and smelled like medicine. I was often reminded, by my father, that I was not to tell Grandma Jenkins about our visits to Charles, his father.
My father married my mother after knowing her for only two weeks. The ceremony was held in his mother’s parlor. That marriage lasted until his death.