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The Outward Appeal of Privatizing Marriage

July 2nd, 2010

Before I go any further in my responses to my young friend who asked about privatizing marriage, I want to acknowledge one thing: this proposal is outwardly appealling. I recently received an e-mail from an earnest young man, who wanted my opinion of his proposal to essentially privatize marriage. His idea was to have government create a new institution called civil unions that would be the same for all couples, opposite sex or same sex, and leave the idea and institution of “marriage” strictly to religious bodies. This position is becoming the “default” position in my quarters, so let’s acknowlege its attractiveness.

The proposal to privatize marriage in some form or fashion is appealing for two reasons.

First, it seems to remove marriage from the realm of political contentiousness. We could mimic a market-type solution, in which individuals can make their own decisions about the meaning of marriage. We need not make any collective decisions. We need not commit ourselves taking a public stand on the crucial issues of the meaning and purpose of marriage, how marriage serves the common good, what the common good actually consists of, and many other deeply contentious matters.

The second appealing feature of this proposal is that the state appears to be neutral and even-handed. The state is not favoring any one religious group, or any particular form of relational contract. A couple could have any house of worship bless their union, on any terms agreeable to the couple and to the house of worship. We could have a Muslim contract that mandates that the bride be a virgin, a Las Vegas drive-through wedding contract and anything in between. Religious bodies could only impose religious penalties, such as banning offenders from the sacraments or temple worship.

I believe these appealing features are illusory. I asked him a series of questions about issues that might change his mind about his proposal. In a series of posts, I will be addressing each of the questions I raised with him.

1. If you believed that it is not possible for the government to be neutral in the definition of marriage, would that change your view of the desirability of your proposal?

2. If you believed that your proposal would undermine one of the essential purposes of marriage, would that change your view?

3. If you believed that your proposal would lead to an expansion of the power of the state, and an increased intrusion of the state into the lives of ordinary people, would that change your view?

So far, I have addressed the question of whether marriage equality is even possible.

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  1. July 3rd, 2010 at 14:27 | #1

    Where did we go wrong that we are so afraid to take a stand on the Institude of Marriage?
    Why would I trust a Nation that has totally turned it’s back on God and continues down a path of self destruction to teach my children about anything that concerns … Marriage , Family, and Sexuality. A Nation that has blurred and grayed the lines between right and wrong and good and evil. Lines that are clearly laid out before us in The Bible and the ten commandments. Some of these basics are that which our For-fathers founded this country on. In Gods word, clearly; We are created male and female and anyone who would think on the contrary are mentally ill and are sick in their sin. They want to continue on in their sin; So they want to change our laws of right and wrong and good and evil and teach our children to question something that is …Oh so clear and dear; that now our young men and women without proper guidance are clueless! If you want to protect your children who are an inheritance of the Lord, then “by God” …quit being afraid to take a stand for Marriage. To privatize the Institution of Marriage is the… ( Cowards Way Out) of having to take a stand one way or the other on the issues of Marriage, Family and Sexuality. As men and women of God; May your Yes be Yes! and your No be No! Let us not waiver like the reed in the wind let us again put our roots down firmly into fertile soil and (Teach) our young people what is Good and Right in the eyes of God. Protect that which is yours. It Is not the responsibility of the (Government or State) to Raise Up Our Children In The Way They Should Grow but clearly that of Us as parents! To some degree I can understand the confusion out there; With parents who are mostly Absent and/or Irresponsible, Who allow the influences of this world of internet, television, cell phones etc., I mean, In and of themselves; These are fine, but without proper guidance, direction or leadership, well thus the confusion on many things including the Institude of Marriage, Family, and Sexuality as well as the Absence of a Father Figure in millions of homes and the Failure of the Church to Stand In The Gap with Mentors to guide our young men and women. I agree, Sometimes it does take a village to raise a family, but be mindful, and sure that those in your village are trustworthy! I say No to giving the expansion of power to our state or to the government, and increasing the intrusion of this into our lives as ordinary people……………………………………………………………………Tamera J. Adame’

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