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What is the Essential Purpose of Marriage?

July 15th, 2010

Dr J is on NOM’s Summer Marriage Tour for the next several days–she’ll be traveling down the Eastern seaboard, meeting new people, and giving short talks in each city at which the bus stops.  These talks will soon be available on our podcast page, but in the meantime, they’re available here.

In her first 10-minute talk (delivered July 14 in Augusta, Maine), Dr J answers the question “What is the essential purpose of marriage?”
Click here to listen!
Augusta, Maine

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  1. July 16th, 2010 at 09:07 | #1

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    [pasted about 50 times, but cut for the sake of length on this blog by the administration]

  2. Heidi
    July 16th, 2010 at 15:04 | #2

    So, I listened to the podcast about the “essential public purpose of marriage” and I have to say that it makes no sense to me. First, my child is attached to both me and to her father, but we never were married. Second, I wish someone could explain in a rational and cogent way how allowing people of the same-sex to marry will serve to disattach heterosexual couples from one another and from their children. Will heterosexuals stop having children? Will heterosexuals stop getting married? If so, why? Are there any other essential public purposes of marriage? What about the couples who don’t have or cannot have children? Do their marriages fail to fulfill the essential public purpose of marriage, and if so, why are they allowed to marry? What about the elderly couple that marries for companionship? Shouldn’t they be disallowed from marriage since they cannot fulfill its essential public purpose? What about all of the people who have children without getting married? Are they all detached from their children? Should we require couples who procreate to marry? Should we outlaw divorce? Seriously, I am just trying to understand the logic in this argument that marriage is all about attaching mothers and fathers to children…

  3. Paul of Alexandria
    July 16th, 2010 at 15:43 | #3

    But marriage is not primarily a religious institution! It is sanctified by almost every religion on Earth, but for the past 5 thousand years, at least, marriage has been defined as a civil institution (see “Man on Earth: A Celebration of Mankind: Portraits of Human Culture in a Multitude of Environments” by John Reader).

    Marriage is defined as a contract (literally, in many cultures) where the woman grants a man sexual access (usually exclusive), agrees to bear his children, and (usually) agrees to keep their joint house. In return, the man agrees to provide for and protect her and her children. In many cultures religious leaders have the authority to perform marriages, but in almost all of them marriages must be registered with the civil authorities. (In most of Europe, marriages are not valid unless they are performed in front of the registrar; the church marriage is usually performed later. )

    (Regarding polygamy – polygyny and polyandry – these are multiple simultaneous marriages, not a single marriage with multiple partners. This is obvious when you realize that, for instance, the divorce of one spouse by a polygamous husband does not require the concurrence of nor effects any other wife).

    There are many benefits to society from marriage – which form the reasons for its civil promotion. It’s a long-recognized truth that very few dis-interested teachers will care for a child as well as its parents, especially under bad circumstances, since they have a genetically driven predisposition to see to the survival of their children.
    * Marriage provides for the protection and care of women and children in their most vulnerable period of time: during pregnancy and just after birth. Men who do not care for their families are usually subject to strict penalties. (Obviously, there are such things as dysfunctional societies).
    * It also ensures that children are raised and trained in accordance with the norms and standards of the society. If you want kids to grow up to be good adults, you have to keep pounding the lessons in and provide good examples throughout their childhood.
    * Limits on and conditions for marriage also provides society an effective means for population control, especially in those lands that have strictly limited resources (e.g. island or desert cultures – see Reader above). The taboos on extramarital sexual intercourse exist largely for this reason.
    * Let’s face it, males of most species will fight for females; humans are no different. By keeping men and women constrained, and by giving them sanctioned outlets for their sexual urges, marriage also helps to keep inter-male violence under control.

    Marriage is a complex subject that deserves considerable study. It has served humanity for many thousands of years, under every condition that this planet could throw at us. Unfortunately, our society has chosen personal gratification ahead of all other considerations; I fear that we are and will continue to pay the price for this choice.

  4. Big Wig
    July 16th, 2010 at 15:54 | #4

    Great Point. It is blindingly obvious that Marriage attaches Children to Mothers to Fathers . It needs to be hit home again and again. 1 Man/1Woman is substantially related to that that public purpose, and could withstand all but Strict Scrutiny.

  5. TLoarie
    July 17th, 2010 at 08:10 | #5

    I think the real question for you is “why have families, tribes, then societies and states celebrated and protected marriage since the beginning of time?” Marriage is not the creation of the state.

  6. Heidi
    July 17th, 2010 at 09:02 | #6

    No one has yet answered my question, so I will repeat it. How will allowing couples of the same sex to marry affect heterosexuals and their choices about marriage? How will same-sex marriage defeat this alleged public purpose of marriage? Will heterosexuals stop getting married? Will they stop having children? Inquiring minds want to know…

    Paul of Alexandria, with all due respect sir, your definition of marriage sounds very outdated to me. If a man and woman get married, but they do not want children or cannot have them, and the woman is not the one who keeps the house (maybe the man is the better housekeeper or prefers that work), and the man is not the one who provides for the family (maybe they have agreed that the wife will be the breadwinner), is their marriage contract invalid?

    I am still waiting for someone, anyone, to tell me how same-sex marriage will destroy or otherwise negatively affect heterosexual marriage. Moreover, since children are already being raised in a myriad of family situations, including by same-sex couples, and since we allow divorce and out-of-wedlock births, it seems to me that defining marriage to exclude same-sex couples has failed to meet this alleged essential public purpose.

    Until someone can explain how granting marriage equality to same-sex couples will negatively affect heterosexual marriages and the children that are born to heterosexuals, this alleged public purpose fails to meet even rational basis scrutiny.

  7. Norrie
    July 17th, 2010 at 09:08 | #7

    To address your second question, same-sex marriage will produce a rash of children who are deliberately not attached to their biological parents. This is not done for the benefit of the children (as with adoption), but for the benefit of the adults (like buying something). In every case where homosexual couples jointly have children, someone else’s parenthood was detached and transferred to another party. Currently, we think this is a big deal and refuse to do it unless the bio parent has proven unfit. SSM would like to deprive biological parents and children of their rights with no evidence of wrongdoing on the anyone’s part. This makes children commodities rather than people with rights who need to be protected–the defense is basically “they’ll be fine.” That doesn’t hold water.

    The fact that there are some childless male-female marriage marriages doesn’t undermine the basic point that only heterosexual marriages are capable of producing children. In zero cases do homosexual marriages produce children.

  8. Big Wig
    July 17th, 2010 at 11:14 | #8

    Heidi –
    Numerous studies show children born out of wedlock are at much greater risk to use drugs, drop out of school, be abused or end up in jail. So although it might be possible to “attach” a child to their father by means of some government order, it doesn’t offer the benefits and protections of a married Mom and Dad.

    Allowing Same Sex Marriage weakens (eviscerates) one of the key foundations of the marriage contract – presumption of parentage. As the marriage contract grants fewer rights and protections, its value goes down, and fewer people will see the need to ever get married.

    Same Sex Marriage advocates try to dismiss the procreative core of marriage by pointing to
    childless couples or high divorce rates. True. Marriage does not achieve its public purpose of responsible procreation in every case. But that is not what the law requires. Marriage only needs to be rationally related to a legitimate state interest, or substantially related to an important state interest.

    Same Sex Marriage advocates insist that 1 women/1man Marriage must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest – while offering no essential state interest/purpose for same sex marriage. Any interest they do proffer can’t exclude polygamy or adult incest.

  9. Leno
    July 17th, 2010 at 12:42 | #9

    Heidi says, “How will allowing couples of the same sex to marry affect heterosexuals and their choices about marriage?”
    I’ll tell you, same-sex marriage leads to absurdities. Romantic love, sexual desire, sexual organs, dating, etc. wouldn’t exists if it wasn’t for marriage. Marriage is when a man and woman (humans) procreate. Male alpha apes can force other female apes to have “sex” with them even if the females don’t want to (btw, everyone has sex – a set gender, but I’m using “sex” here as the culture uses it. Not something you are but rather something you do) but the male apes don’t ever rape the female ones! Only humans can use high intellects to judge their appetites/actions/beliefs. The pleasures/happiness/piece of mind we receive in marriage has only come about because its nature’s way of getting us to reproduce. Reproduction is the only reason we exist (in nature 😀 ) as the famous biologist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins has shown. Thus, we are all supposed, by nature, to be heterosexual or else something has gone terribly wrong to our “sole reason for being.” To say same-sex attractions or “s-s marriage” is the same as heterosexual marriage is absurd.
    If marriage is a construct, as Heidi believes, then it doesn’t exist objectively. Thus, s-s marriage advocates want to force others to accept their platonic fantasies of love & marriage. Are the schools going to teach the facts that I have just stated or will gay activists force the schools to ignore it, if not teach the opposite. Just because a heterosexual might be sterile doesn’t mean same-sex marriage is now rational. It is morally permisable to allow sterile people to marry as long as their marriage isn’t hostile to the reality of marriage. The claim that “Marriage is so messed up the gays can have it” is worhtless. 1st it insults homosexuals. 2nd its irrational to accept a bad trend just because it’s happening. There would be so many bad consequenses to s-s marriage. Like preventing devout religious people positions in high office because of their “homophobia.” Imagine if opposing s-s marrige truly becomes like opposing interracial marriage and someone like Palin wanted to run for office! People wouldn’t stop saying she is analogous to a racist. I could already see the ads now.

  10. Heidi
    July 17th, 2010 at 12:57 | #10

    What about all of the same-sex couples who have already raised and are currently raising children? See, same-sex couples are already taking care of kids, it’s just that their families are being denied the equal protection of marriage, myself included. And my children ARE fine, thank you very much!!! In fact, they are better than fine, they are fantastic! My teenage daughter born out of wedlock and into poverty is an honor roll student getting ready for college. She is well-behaved, respectful, compassionate, and does not drink or do drugs. She’s never been abused, and I don’t see her ending up in jail.

    Same-sex marriage is not going to deprive ANY biological parent of his or her rights, particularly considering that the children raised by same-sex couples are either a) the product of artificial reproductive technology and thus the person contributing the other “half” of the genetic material to create that child has already surrendered any “rights” to the child that results [NO ONE takes away a sperm donor or egg donor’s rights–they voluntarily surrender them!; b) children who have been adopted by same-sex couples because the children’s biological parents have abused/neglected/failed them; or c) the product of a prior heterosexual union, in which case both heterosexual parents would presumably already have rights to that child.

    There also will be no impact on the presumption of parentage, although since the advent of DNA testing, the necessity/desirability of that presumption is waning. Besides, if we take the typical lesbian couple in which one is impregnated by a sperm donor during the course of the relationship and both women WANT to and DO parent that child, why is it wrong to presume the parentage of the non-biological mother in the event that they are married. Remember, a presumption is just that–it can be rebutted with other evidence, if for example, the baby was not the product of ART, but was the result of bio-mom cheating and having sex with a man. Within heterosexual marriages, the presumption of parentage will remain the same.

    Under the law, same-sex marriage advocates do not have to offer any essential state purpose for extending marriage equality to same-sex couples. They need only show that they are being denied the equal protection of the law as compared to those who are similarly situated, and that the government exclusion of them from the benefits and protections of marriage is not rationally related to a legitimate government purpose, which I have still yet to hear how exclusion meets that alleged purpose. With or without marriage, heterosexuals are having, and will still have, children. With or without marriage, same-sex couples will still raise children. The only question is whether our families will continue to suffer from discriminatory treatment. And please, don’t even bring up polygamy or incest, because they are irrelevant to this discussion!

    Finally, if you think that the value of marriage will decrease if same-sex couples are allowed to take part in the institution, that reveals that you think same-sex couples are inferior or less than heterosexual couples–classic discriminatory position.

  11. Leno
    July 17th, 2010 at 14:07 | #11

    Thank you Heidi, you just proved my point. What I previously stated was a valid secular ground for why same-sex marriage cannot happen, its an absurdity that will cause many problems that you don’t even want to deal with. However you still continue, especially with anecdotes which don’t challenge anything I showed, very telling. Same-sex marriage couples have no marriage rights because same-sex marriage doesn’t exist in reality, its a construct. Men don’t have the right to eliminate their objective (rights) obligations and duties to the children which they bring into the world. The biological (since this is not a contruct) fathers are responsible for the childs existance, nurishment, and to have the child reach for the best Form of man (form in the sense Aristotle used it). As I showed, only humans can do such a thing and not, for example, male alpha apes. A man can’t consent those obligations away nor eliminate them if the woman says, “ok.” Our rights don’t come from each others consent, that is unintelligible, nor from the state, as that leads to absurdities. Same-sex couples, in general, have huge seperation rates, dangerous lives, high percentage of depression, abuse, and suicide. A few sucess stories of same-sex couples don’t change that fact. If a few hetero couples are terrible people, that doesn’t change anything I’ve said so far. Your beliefs of what parenthood is, is another construct! Its completely arbitrary & doesn’t exist in reality. According to you, If I get a girl pregnant I don’t have any obligations unless I say so or the girl asked me to. Biology decides who the real father is. Not some sort of consent, similar to children games like House. “Now its your turn to be the Dad!” Marriage equality doesn’t lead to same-sex marriage because that concept is an absurdity. IVF itself is an artifact that’s not natural & can be used for hostile purposes to nature & reason. I see now, you realise it too as you have forfeited any posible objection to my previous post. Again, Governments don’t create marriage, reality does. You believe marriage is a construct & the government should force your contruct on everyone else wheter its based in reality or not. Your position forces incest and polygamy to, necessarily, be considered and dealt with as they are also the same thing! Children are best with their biological parents and not profesionals with a lot of government founding, other wise children are best raised by caring nurses at Child Homes. If one cannot argue why same-sex marriage is possible, rational, and base in reality, you are only begging the question. Heidi, why do you have to force your platonic construct on me and everyone who doesn’t want that platonic belief? Do we not have a right to not have your, or others, neo-religious beliefs forced on us? Please Heidi, lets be rational about this, not sentimental.

  12. Marc
    July 18th, 2010 at 08:07 | #12

    Thanks for your comments Heidi. You raise some valid points in an intelligent manner that avoided belittling your detractors (can’t say the same for them, good Christians all, I’m sure). “Behold, in our midst no more macho or macha, Jew or gentile, homo or hetero. One holy, indivisible, color-blind, age-blind, sex-blind. Authority in service, symbol and reality, rite and follow-through, one seamless conscience, one body of love.” Let’s face it, let’s be rational about this: homosexuals are discriminated against in numerous walks of life, can be wonderful parents, and we live in a country that allegedly allows one the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If we are concerned about the psychological welfare of children, then let’s give homosexual parents the right to marry now to avoid futher ostracizing them (we all know it’s a-comin anyway). And please, for you commentors, use your spell-check or something for crying out loud.

  13. Heidi
    July 18th, 2010 at 09:29 | #13

    I pray for the day when people stop trying to interfere in the personal decisions of others and when all families are celebrated. Love, not biology, makes a family. Same-sex couples aren’t going anywhere, and we won’t stop raising children either. Not all children are best with their biological parents. Some biological parents are absolute failures. But I see that you are more invested in spouting ideology than in celebrating love. It’s okay. You can believe what you want to about marriage, and I will continue to believe what I do about it. Even if I am never able to legally marry the woman I love in my home state, I will continue to be spiritually married to her and will remain committed for as long as we live. I will continue to teach my children that love is what matters, and that God made us all different and unique. I will raise my children to value marriage as a lifelong commitment between two people who love each other, regardless of whether they choose to bring children into the marriage or not, and I will teach them that love is the highest and best reason for being that exists. I have faith that we will ultimately win this war, particularly given the youth support for equality, but also because love always prevails. The story of this country is greater freedom for its citizens, not less. I pray that the scales will fall from the eyes of those who are willfully blinded to the greatness of love.

  14. Heidi
    July 19th, 2010 at 12:12 | #14

    Excellent take on Galations 3:28, Marc. And thank you. May the scales of cruel discrimination soon fall from the eyes of those who would deny their fellow human being the right to live in equality and liberty, and may hearts be opened to the love that is available for all of us.

    I must respond to one thing you wrote, Leno. You typed: “Same-sex couples, in general, have huge seperation rates, dangerous lives, high percentage of depression, abuse, and suicide.”

    First, I would pose the question that if it is true that same-sex couples split up more often than heterosexual couples (I have not seen any reliable data to support such a claim at this point, but I will accept it as true for the sake of argument), could the inability to access an institution intended to encourage and promote lifelong commitment have any bearing on this fact? Second, I would submit that anyone who practices an unsafe or non-monogamous lifestyle, whether gay or straight, leads a “dangerous life.” Yet another reason to encourage monogamous marriage for same-sex couples, but please be honest about the fact that plenty of heterosexuals (including those who are married) lead “dangerous lives.” Third, did it ever occur to you that higher rates of depression, abuse, and suicide have any connection whatsoever to the discriminatory treatment received by LGBTs in society? I wonder how happy you would be if you were hated on a daily basis since you were a teenager and if you were denied basic civil and human rights simply for being who you are?

    For example, my teenaged daughter has a best friend that she has known since they were both in kindergarten. This young woman came out to her family and friends several years ago, and was almost immediately ostracized, by just about everyone but my daughter, who has been raised to accept people as they are and as God made them. I have spent many hours talking to this young woman, and the single biggest cause of her sorrow is her mother and her mother’s religious beliefs. Her mother claims to love her daughter, but is unwilling to love her as she is. She makes her daughter attend a church that hates homosexuality and therefore tries to convince this girl that she can change if she just prays enough and asks God to take this “affliction” from her. But she still is a lesbian, no matter how many times she begs God not to be one. She knows this like she knows she has brown hair. Wonder why she thinks about killing herself? Maybe because her own mother will not accept her and love her for who she is? Maybe because her church tells her that God hates her for being who she is? Maybe because she can never expect to grow up and live the kind of “normal” life that others take for granted? Why would this child choose to be treated this way? I thank God that I am able to be a counterbalance to her mother’s hate and tell her that she is perfect just as she is and just as God made her. I am grateful that I am able to be there to tell her that she is loved by God, regardless of the cruelty of his “followers.” Yeah, gay and lesbian children are much, much more likely to commit suicide. And why would anyone be surprised by that when the world, sometimes their families, churches, peers, etc. tell them that they are sick, deranged, immoral, and unwanted? And by denying marriage equality, you contribute to the self-hatred of every child who just wants to be like everyone else with the same opportunities for freedom and happiness.

  15. Leno
    July 19th, 2010 at 13:04 | #15

    Heidi, if civil unions couldn’t help eliminate the problems of homosexual relationships, then how can ssm do it? It definitely hasn’t happend anywhere in the world where ssm has been legalized. Again, you cannot say denying ssm for homosexuals is immoral since the very validity of the ssm possition is exactly what is in question. You’re arguing in a giant circle. The law certainly doesn’t say I, a colored person, must be respected by you. Your anecdotes do absolutely nothing to “refute” anything that I’ve said, which you just keep ignoring. Moreover, everything I’ve said has nothing, absolutly nothing, to do with opposing ssm because of religion or whatever you think God is. Hell…, Marc, I think, believes I’m Christian(!) when in fact there’s nothing I’ve written that can allow one to make such a confident claim.

  16. Sara
    July 20th, 2010 at 11:56 | #16

    Leno, what about all of the heterosexual marriages that end in divorce? Should we deny marriage to heterosexuals because they have failed to eliminate the problems inherent in the institution? I think you’re confusing respect with rights. I don’t CARE if you respect or accept me. I want my constitutional right to marry recognized by the government. My “anecdotes” are stories of real people with real lives, that you are harming by your willingness to treat them as second-class citizens. And while I DO believe that denying SSM IS immoral, for purposes of the discussion of civil rights, morality plays NO ROLE in the question. You don’t have the right to use your idea of morality to deny my civil rights. That is what the First Amendment is all about. As for “refuting” anything you’ve said, well, it can be difficult to refute irrationality. YOU are the one who is forcing YOUR construct of marriage on me! Regardless of your religious beliefs, the institution of marriage in the U.S. is a civil construct, shaped by law, and as such, the government is not entitled to discriminate against me for arbitrary reasons.

    Your claims about biology taking precedence over human law are meaningless. Regardless of what you think or believe about the ability of a sperm or egg donor to voluntarily surrender his or her rights to the child that results from the donation of genetic material, the FACT is that the law does not recognize your belief system. The law allows one to surrender his or her rights to a child, especially when there are others willing to take on the obligations of care for that child. Your willingness to send children to “Child Homes” to be cared for by “caring nurses” rather than to same-sex parents willing to give them a loving and nurturing home completely blows my mind. I am so sure that children would prefer orphanages to families. How disgusting.

    My position does NOT “force incest and polygamy too,” because there are legitimate, non-religious and non-discriminatory reasons for barring these types of marriages. The same cannot be said for the alleged reasons for discriminating against same-sex couples. Finally, I am not forcing my belief on anyone. You can disagree with what I believe until the cows come home. What you cannot do, however, is deny me the equal protection of the law without a legitimate reason for doing so in a way that is at least rationally related to that reason. Until you can show that, your appeals to biology, to the alleged but disproven harm to children (my children are doing quite well by the way, and don’t need you to “protect” them from their own loving parents), to tradition, etc., all fail to meet the constitutional burden for discriminatory treatment.

  17. Sara
    July 20th, 2010 at 11:57 | #17

    Oops. Forgot to change myself back to me…LOL.

  18. Leno
    July 20th, 2010 at 14:34 | #18

    Sara, you raised no valid arguments. The issue I raised, that is the main issue in this ssm debate, of the ontology of marriage & ssm was completely ignored. My argument is more than sufficient for never allowing ssm. You have no basis for showing ssm is not a construct. I gave factual evidence why marriage, properly understood (reread my post on what marriage is), is not a construct. Any anecdote of a homosexual personally suffering cannot be a rational foundation for the ontology of ssm. In fact, its so illogical that in Logic it has its own phrase, Argumentum ad Misericordiam. Unless one can show the ontological basis for ssm, as I showed in my previous posts that there isn’t one, then there is no such thing as ssm rights. Let me show you why an appeal to a government law doesn’t work. Do you have a right to ssm just because the government says so, and the government could say anything! So an appeal to the government is worhtless. Or do you appeal to the government because the government is appealing to something else to justify your position? In which case its worthless to appeal to the government anyway, and you must justify your position without an appeal to the government or government forms. My subjective views have nothing to do with it. Did you even understand what I was saying? Nothing in my comments on ssm was my opinion. Also, we all force our morals on everyone else. Haven’t you studied ethics? Human law is based on nature. Not subjective fantasy. You don’t understand, I actually opposed sending children to Child Homes! No, you cannot forfeit your objective rights, obligations, & duties by social contract. Otherwise, things like abuse, euthanasia, using women as objects, and surrenduring you right to life, liberty, and persuit of happines would be morally permisable. Since ssm is a construct, you can’t reject other equal platonic beliefs of incest & polygamy marriage. Even, even(!), if no one had a reason to oppose ssm, that would not be a rational reason for allowing ssm. That is another illogical argument. Can’t recall the name of it. It’s like 4-5 words long in latin. The general fact that children are best with their biological parents and not same sex couples cannot be disproven by several same-sex couple success stories. You want to force a platonic concept to be accepted as fact by all of society. When the truth is the opposite.

  19. Steph
    July 20th, 2010 at 19:14 | #19


    I see people defending marriage between a man and a woman using all kinds of tactics, some of them better than others. But I rarely see this said:

    Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, His bride. The union of a man and woman is a living parable. To change the characters is to change the picture and the picture cannot be changed.

    “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church,” Paul says in Ephesians 5.31, 32.

    You talk a good bit about “followers” of God who were/are hateful to your daughter’s best friend. I really hate that someone who calls themselve a Christian acts in such a manner. Yet I have to point something out…just because someone tells another person that homosexuality is wrong doesn’t mean that they are being hateful. If I tell my kids that playing in the street is wrong, they might get mad at me because I’m preventing them from their fun, but am I really being hateful or am I being loving because I want to protect them from harm?

    People often get hung up on one particular sin (like homosexuality) and then want to tell people that they are going to hell because they are gay. The truth is, EVERYONE sins. It’s who we are and what we do best. We sin. In all kinds of ways. Every day. Hell is the payment for committing the cosmic treason of sinning against a perfect and holy God. He made us and therefore has the right to tell us what is right and what is wrong.

    But God in His graciousness, made a way to escape the punishment – He poured the wrath we deserve onto Christ on the cross. So when I tell you that you are a sinner, I’m not saying it because I think I’m better than you, or because I don’t sin like you sin, or because I’m judging you. I’m telling you because I’ve been forgiven and I want others to share in the joy of being forgiven, too. I’m one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread and water.

  20. Randy Olson
    July 20th, 2010 at 21:13 | #20

    Since your questions seem to be rhetorical, I will not answer them directly. The problem is with the word equality. Biological parents matter and same-sex parents are not equal to them. Do some research and find a valid, random-sample study of sufficient size that shows the outcomes for children of same-sex couples then post it here. Virtually every study I’ve come across in the last year and a half of research has compared same-sex parents to single, heterosexual parents or re-married heterosexual parents. But the “researchers” and the media that publishes their so-called research will state that, see, same-sex parents are the same as heterosexual parents. Hardly.

    Plus, virtually every study uses lesbian parents and not gay parents. Why? Don’t gay men have children? Why aren’t advocates of same-sex marriage studying them? And if we’re going to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, shouldn’t we do so considering all of the facts?

    Societies pass laws based on the social interests of society at large. Societies’ concern with marriage is not to provide a place for two people to express their love and commitment and to share property, etc., it’s to provide the most stable place to raise the next generation. That’s not a same-sex union, which tend to last about half as long as a heterosexual marriage.

    I’m all for civil unions which allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights as married heterosexual couples, but they’re not equal. Not by a long shot. We should be promoting and discussing why biological parents should get married and be happy in their marriage.

  21. Chairm
    July 21st, 2010 at 03:54 | #21

    Heidi said: “There also will be no impact on the presumption of parentage, although since the advent of DNA testing, the necessity/desirability of that presumption is waning.”

    You don’t know what you are talking about.

    The presumption is of paternity rather than “parentage”. You did a swop. You assumed that a change has already been entrenched in our laws. That assumption does not do the magic you imagined.

    Two men engaged in lots and lots of same-sex sexual behavior. They have zero chance of impregnation. Just like a lone individual who engages in lots and lots of of sexual behavior, alone, the two men lack the other sex. Neither society nor the law presume that one man had the opportunity to impregnate the other man. Nor that the lone man self-impregnated.

    Two women egnaged in lots and lots of same-sex sexual behavior. Zero chance of impregnation. We do not presume that one woman was impregnated by the other woman. We do not presume that impregnation is possible, much less probable, without the other sex.

    A man and a woman engaged in lots and lots of coital sexual relations as per the consummation of marriage, as per the basis for annulment provisions, as per the basis for adultery-divorce provisions, and as per the marital presumption that the husband is the father of children born to his wife during their marriage. Since marriage is a sexual type of relationship between man and woman, this presumption is legitimate and has proven itself to be about 85-90% accurate even where challenged in courtrooms.

    Not only is marriage (as a type of relationship) is openly presumed to be sexualized, society also presumes that the unity of fatherhood and motherhood is both necessary and desirable for the well-being of children and the society in which they are raised. The core meaning of marriage integrates the sexes and also provides for responsible procreation.

    None of that applies to the one-sexed scenario, sexualized or not, gaycentric or not, registered with the government or not.

    However, if, as you would insist, society must now treat all unions of husband and wife as if they were one-sexed unions, then, it must not treat the husband as the presumptive father of his own children born to his wife during their marriage. First, he or she or the Government must conform to mandatory DNA testing which, according to your remark, is more desirable and more necessary than the marital presumption of paternity.

    Society, by your remarks, would take the default position that each married mother has been sexually unfaithful to her husband and that her child is not his until proven to be his through the results of DNA testing. Thus, the marital bond would not bond the husband to his children nor to his wife but only to some vague notion that his sexual relationship with his wife is as insigificant, societally, as that of an all-male or all-female scenario.

    Indeed, if the presumption of paternity cannot fit the one-sexed scenarios, and its sexual basis certainly cannot, then, society must no longer presume anything sexual about the social institution of marriage. Society must become blind to the sexual basis for the marital presumption of paternity.

    So, then, that would certainly impact the sexual basis for the lines drawn around eligilbity to marry — from related people to underaged people to already-married people and so forth.

    It would also operate on the false presumption that a license from the government is the true basis for assigning children to parents.

    Heidi, if what you said about necessity and desirability is to be taken serioiusly, what would sex have to do with marriage or even with assigning parents to children?

    State the basis for what you imagine to be the “presumption of parentage”. Thanks.

  22. Lori
    July 21st, 2010 at 07:49 | #22

    Heidi, I am a born-again follower of Jesus and I take great offense to your words about the mother not accepting her gay daughter and the church hating her for the “way she is”. God’s Word, the Bible, teaches that homosexuality is a sin, as is lying, stealing, dishonoring your parents, sex outside of marriage, etc. God hates sin and all sin is the same in His eyes. He cannot look at sin, as He is a perfect being, which is why we need Jesus as a sin covering. We believers have an incredible responsibility to love the sinner, while hating the sin. We fail repeatedly, and our churches filled with sinful people fail repeatedly, as lines get blurred and emotions get charged. Our failure does not negate the fact however that God makes the rules, He is in charge, and there are consequences to habitual sinful behavior. WE don’t impose these consequences, HE does. Allowing ssm will not be enough to create a sense of acceptance in the hearts of people engaged in this behavior because it is not in accordance with how we were made. God has created us in His image, and He has put the knowledge of Himself within each of us, and we are all responsible for how we respond. (Read Romans 1) We can ignore Him, say or act as if He is irrelevant, but, in the end, His will prevails. Please know that I am not suggesting that this is an easy road to follow, if one feels they are attracted only to their own gender. But there are many trials in life that people must endure. There is no question we should realize that we are all equally sinful people as we together strive to live peaceably and build a prosperous society, but changing the God-ordained institution of marriage will not end the struggles of homosexuals, and that seems to be the real issue here.

  23. Heidi
    July 21st, 2010 at 09:23 | #23

    @ Leno, & Steph,

    The only analysis that matters with respect to same-sex marriage is a constitutional law analysis. In other words, a “natural law” analysis or a religious analysis is utterly irrelevant to the question of equal protection under the law in a civil society founded on principles of religious liberty.

    Leno, you said: “Romantic love, sexual desire, sexual organs, dating, etc. wouldn’t exists if it wasn’t for marriage.” I think you have it backwards: Marriage wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for romantic love, sexual desire, sexual organs, dating, etc. The sexual and romantic drive to seek out a mate (whether you are gay or straight), is also what drives the desire to marry. To marry someone is to tell the world that you and your chosen mate are a family unit, regardless of whether children are brought into that unit or not. It is to make a specific and long-term commitment to the other person that is based on your love for each other.

    You also said: “The pleasures/happiness/piece of mind we receive in marriage has only come about because its nature’s way of getting us to reproduce.” With all due respect that is foolishness and makes no logical sense whatsover. Reproduction is not dependent on marriage. I reproduced as a teenager without marrying the father, and nature didn’t require a marriage first, only a sexual act. A sexual act does not make a marriage!

    And yes, CIVIL marriage for which one receives a marriage license and 1138 federal and state benefits IS a social construct (I would argue that marriage itself is as well, but that is also irrelevant to the legal and constitutional questions posed by the marriage equality movement). If it were not, anyone could just say they were married and expect government recognition of that marriage. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? No, a couple must receive a license, perform some sort of ceremony, exchange vows, have witnesses, etc. Then, the couple receives a certificate from the state in recognition of that marriage. That sir, makes it a matter of civil law, which is a social construct.

    Finally, it is NOT morality that dictates law in our society. Instead, it is the harm principle. In other words, the question is not whether my actions are immoral under someone’s particular ethical or religious code, but rather, whether my actions cause harm to another person and thus infringe on his or her constitutional and civil rights. If there is no harm, one cannot legislate against my freedom. And if the state extends benefits to one class of persons, it cannot deny them to a similarly-situated class without a legitimate, non-religious, non-discriminatory reason. Incestuous and polygamous relationships are not similarly-situated, and there exist legitimate, non-religious, non-discriminatory reasons to prohibit government recognition of them. The same cannot be said with respect to same-sex couples!

    Steph, the reason you rarely see recourse to the Bible is because religious beliefs are irrelevant to this discussion. Many churches sanction same-sex unions, and no church is entitled to enforce its religious ideology through law. Likewise, no church can be forced to recognize something that goes against its teaching. Again, that is what the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is all about. It protects the state from the church, and the church from the state. A religious understanding of marriage may be YOUR understanding of marriage, but it is not the one that matters for purposes of the civil law question. Atheists and people of religious backgrounds other than Christianity can marry in this country, many people do not hold religious ceremonies when they marry, and yet their marriages are perfectly legal and valid under state and federal law. And although it doesn’t matter, I must add that I was raised Christian (an evangelical/fundamentalist to be exact), and I disagree with your interpretation of scripture. And I disagree that loving a person of the same sex is a sin. I just don’t believe in a God that would make a person LGBT and then expect that person to be miserable, to go against his or her own nature, or to live a life of celibacy and loneliness. What a cruel God that would be! So there.

    Finally, to Randy–I don’t happen to disagree with you that we should promote marriage between biological parents, assuming that those marriages would be healthy ones! I would ever ask a woman to marry a man who abused her, and I think asking a sperm donor to marry the lesbian recipient of the sperm is just a bit odd. Nevertheless, the position of marriage equality is not opposed to the idea that marriages of biological parents should be encouraged and promoted! I do disagree with you that society does not have an interest in the long-term commitments of consenting adults to one another, and that the only social interest of marriage is to provide a stable place to raise the next generation. Otherwise, there would be no reason to permit marriages that do not, or cannot, produce children. And we do every single day. Plus, the state has a legitimate economic interest in adults who care for one another for the long-term. In the absence of committed relationships, the state is left to care for individuals as they age, when they are sick and/or disabled, etc.

  24. Heidi
    July 21st, 2010 at 09:32 | #24

    That should be “I would NEVER ask a woman to marry a man who abused her.” As for the gay dads vs. lesbian moms question, I think the problems are as follows: 1) as compared to lesbians, far fewer gay men are raising children (this may be because it is easier for a woman to become inseminated than it is for a man to find a surrogate mother–but it could also be that it is harder for a gay man to adopt than it is for a lesbian); 2) any study of the well-being and outcomes for children must be longitudinal covering the entire childhood and beyond. But check with the reputable organizations that all have consistently said that children of same-sex parents fare as well as children of heterosexual parents! Go even further: ask the children who have been raised by same-sex parents! Read their stories! http://www.colage.org

    “And if we’re going to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, shouldn’t we do so considering all of the facts?”

    Why? Do we require heterosexuals to prove that they would be good parents before they can get married?

  25. Lee
    July 21st, 2010 at 10:40 | #25

    People are so concerned about protecting the rights of same-sex persons who want to marry (for example, Sara says “I want my constitutional right to marry recognized by the government”). And they argue that same-sex couples are being treated like “second-class citizens.” But what about the rights of children to be born to and to know their biological parents? They are given even less of a choice in determining the situation into which they are born than living people have to determine their romantic and sexual relationships. Why do we never hear about or discuss the rights of these children? Don’t they have a right to be born and raised by the people who create them? Do we really think that children do not have an interest in this matter? I think they do. I think a child has a natural right (and possibly a constitutional right–but the US Supreme Court declined to address this in Staley v. Illinois) and an inherent interest in knowing and developing a relationship with their biological parents.

    For example, I have several friends and family members who were adopted. They have, in my opinion, great parents. Most of them performed well in school, went to college, and are generally successful people. All of them without exception, wondered about their biological parents in at least some degree. Many of them sought their parents out. Some of them met them. What’s the point? Even though these adopted people I know have pretty good lives and families, they retain an inherent interest in knowing their biological creators.

    I also have one friend who was born to a single parent via artificial insemination (because this parent wanted a child), this friend wishes she could know about her biological father–and is actually angry about it. She never will though because the donor was anonymous.

    My point is that children have an interest in the situations they are born into. But we don’t really talk about that. I think this is because this debate is quickly construed as a matter of religion. And since these children can’t joint in the debate about their upbring prior to their upbringing, other people need to address these issues for them. But if same-sex couples are second-class citizens because we don’t recognize the rights they argue are theirs, children must be third-class or no-class citizens because we don’t even recognize or meaningfully debate their interests or rights as a class.

  26. Ruth
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:11 | #26

    “If we are concerned about the psychological welfare of children, then let’s give homosexual parents the right to marry now to avoid futher ostracizing them (we all know it’s a-comin anyway).”

    A young girl I know is being reared by two men who are living together as if married.
    She said to a mutual friend, “You are so lucky! You have a Mom!”
    Now, she is obviously feeling the lack of a Mom in her family. I believe that a society which tells her that she is wrong and that two fathers are just as good as a mother and a father is not supporting her psychologically. A society which makes the statement that she is correct in her feelings is supportive of her.

  27. Leno
    July 21st, 2010 at 14:08 | #27

    Heidi, I gave more than enough sufficient reasons why SSM should never be legalized. You said, “The only analysis that matters with respect to same-sex marriage is a constitutional law analysis.” I destroyed any basis for that in a comment I’ve already posted here. Even on that government-sanctioned marriage-license argument, SSM leads to absurdities. We must listen to each other. Or perhaps you can’t understand what I’m saying. Then, you should ask me to explain whatever is confusing you. This is such an important issue, we need to be reasonable. If people are not going to take this seriously, and follow the evidence where ever it leads, then their involvement is only a joke. What I said isn’t from some Natural Law ideology. It was based on facts. Not my subjectivities, which your arguments are based on, admittedly.
    “Marriage wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for romantic love, sexual desire, sexual organs, dating, etc.” False. Reread what I’ve stated marriage really is. It’s the crusial issue that you seem hellbent on missing the point. I don’t have the time to teach someone biology or the philosophy of biology. Look at what I’ve shown with my comments on the alpha male apes. We have gotten an awareness of romantic love, eroticism, & all the chemical reactions that make such love possible, through evolution, for us to procreate. DNA cares not for you or I, our species purpose is to procreate. If humans replicated themselves as adults through some sort of mitosis, then marriage, romantic love, sexual desire, sexual organs, dating, etc. would not exist objectively. This can only be because of the male-female complimentarity that we exist for. Humans, unlike any other animal, have Selfs and can think of others as different Selfs. We are the only creatures that try to get justifications for our beliefs. We must, then, base our actions on objective reality. Animals like foxes, as a matter of fact, can never love, yet they still engage in sexual acts, have children, and risk their lives to protect their young. Think of procreation like eating. We can get pleasure from eating because that is (in reality) natures way of helping us to fight for food & survival. Eating for the satisfaction only & then making yourself throw up is not the reality of what eating is about. Nor should it be considered ok if the person doing it doesn’t harm anyone else. You are basically stating that its backwards. That our eating ability, and everything that comes along with it, has only come about because of our pleasure that we get from it. No respectable biologist would ever say such a thing. You just proved my point yet again. If marriage is a conscruct then there’s no such thing as SSM rights. As SSM is only a subjective platonic belief with no basis in reality. No sexual reproduction in reality, no real marriage. Just because someone can’t have children doesn’t mean their sexual organ seizes to be a sexual organ. Such people can still marry someone of the opposite sex, because their marriage isn’t a rejection of what marriage really is. They just have a disorder.
    Laws must be based on reason. Not on anyones’ subjective morality, although you called it the No Harm Principle. However, even on that principle, SSM still has no ontology. Making it a type of religious belief you want to force on everyone. If the government must force pure subjective platonic beliefs on the entire nation. Then you cannot oppose equal treatment for incestuous and polygamous relationships. They have, necessarily, the same basis as same-sex marriage.
    Nothing I’ve said relies on religion or a subjective morality. I used consistent reasoning to show how it is impossible for SSM to be an objective fact of reality. Therefor, it should not be forced onto the people of the country. Not through schools, the culture, nor the government. This is the very issue you’ve ignored. To say SSM represents an objective something, is an (although perhaps pleasant) illusion.

  28. Chairm
    July 21st, 2010 at 14:49 | #28

    No SSMer who claims that morality is foreign to justification for our laws is a serious commenter on the issue of marriage nor on the question of contitutionality. Especially when SSMers denounce as bigoted those who disagree with them. The hypocrisy of such pro-SSM comments is blatant.

  29. Randy Olson
    July 22nd, 2010 at 07:40 | #29

    When it comes to raising a family, love is what is in the best interest of children. And the best interest of children is being raised by BOTH biological parents in a loving marriage. That’s what the research says. That’s what’s best for children. All the love and wishing in the world won’t change that fact. That it doesn’t always work out doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be the ideal for society. We make laws all of the time limiting the access of individuals because it’s in the best interest of society. There are some teenagers who are more mature than some adults, but we don’t allow them to sign contracts, drink, smoke, look at pornography, etc. because it’s not in the best interest of society.

  30. Randy Olson
    July 22nd, 2010 at 07:57 | #30

    “We all know same-sex marriage is coming, so let’s support it” is like saying “We all know global warming is coming, so let’s all go out and buy SUVs.”

    Anyway, for the girl with two dads who isn’t being supported psychologically because she told her friend, “You’re so lucky to have a mom,” maybe her dad isn’t supporting his daughter psychologically. It’s her father’s desire for other men that is putting his daughter in this pyschological discomfort. If her father was married to her mother, this girl wouldn’t be saying these things to her friend.

    The girl recognizes innately what advocates try to dismiss with sophistry: A father by himself isn’t enough. Not saying it can’t be good. It’s not enough. It’s not a mom. @Ruth

  31. Randy Olson
    July 22nd, 2010 at 08:32 | #31

    Get married so we don’t have to support you? While it may be (partially) true that aging adults do care for one another, I hardly think that’s a consideration, much less a primary one, of society in codifying marriage laws. Besides, isn’t it assumed that children or other family members will care for their own. It’s in the social interest to create stable families, not stable couples.

    And therein is the issue. Same-sex unions are statistically less stable than heterosexual ones. On average, they last half as long. Where’s the stability and care in that?

    This instability creates problems if the couple decides to start a family. (Couples are not families; if they were, then why does the phrase “Start a family” mean “having children”? Anyway….) The effects of divorce are well documented. So, we, as a society, are supposed to promote something as equal that isn’t?

    Civil unions would ensure the rights of same-sex couples — and any children they may have — without signalling the equality that the use of the same term (“marriage”) would.



  32. Steph
    July 26th, 2010 at 10:29 | #32

    Heidi –

    I’m no student of the law, so the “harm principle” is out of my realm of knowledge, however, I have to ask you where the idea of “harm” comes from. Don’t morals dictate to us what “harm” is? Most of us in America believe that murder is morally wrong, whereas a terrorist has no such moral restraints. 9/11 was harm to us Americans, but a cause for celebration for those who hate us. We legislate morals all the time – the morals might be good (murder is wrong) and the morals may be bad (abortion is a woman’s right) but they are laws based on someone’s morals just the same.

    I think that the reason I “rarely see recourse to the Bible” is not because reasoning from Scripture is irrelevant to the discussion. I think it’s because people are not able to articulate clearly what Scripture says. Another reason is that we are afraid to stand on God’s Word because we are a bunch of pansies who don’t want people to dislike us. The Bible is incredibly relevant. Whether you agree that there is a God who created the world or not, can you agree that if he did make us, he has the right to tell us what is right and what is wrong?

    Heidi, I don’t think that you are disagreeing with my interpretation of Scripture, I think you are disagreeing with Scripture itself. What I quoted in my first comment was pretty clear. Even a child could figure out that marriage is between a man and woman after reading “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…” By the way, there are two marriage represented in this short phrase, and both of those marriages are between men and women. You want to shoot the messenger, but your problem is really with the Bible itself.

    I don’t think that marriage requires a religious understanding (in the sense that I understand you to mean “religious”). Marriage was created by God for mankind, not just for Jews or Christians. It is a civil contract and yet a “religious” thing for people who hold to a religion. It’s clear that marriage must be between a man and a woman (look at how God made our bodies to fit together; biology tells us that men and women were made for each other) but biology itself won’t lead us to see that marriage is the natural progression of man. We can’t say that once the primordial ooze developed arms and legs and self awareness and sexuality, some brain decided that monogomy was way better than sex with any number of partners and then convinced almost everyone else that monogomy was great, too. That doesn’t compute. Our ‘natural’ sexuality tells us that when we are attracted to someone, go have sex with them. So then marriage is a reigning in of the natural inclination of almost every human. The idea of marriage had to come from Someone outside of ourselves, because our natures aren’t going to formulate a plan to reign in what our nature tells us to do. The plan (marriage) had to come from somewhere else.

    You say, “I disagree that loving a person of the same sex is a sin. I just don’t believe in a God that would make a person LGBT and then expect that person to be miserable, to go against his or her own nature, or to live a life of celibacy and loneliness. What a cruel God that would be! So there.” What if God didn’t make you gay? What if your own rebellion against Him opened the doors to greater rebellion?

    You are a mother, so you have the greatest seat in the house to watch human nature. Think of your daughter as a baby…when she cried, it was because something was wrong with her. She was hungry. She was wet. She was tired of the noise. She wanted a toy. Somebody told her no. Somebody made her eat peas. Her life revolves around HER. I’m not picking on your daughter – I’m pointing out that we are all selfish people by nature. It’s our nature to be selfish from the moment we are born. “Meet MY needs; make ME happy.” Is selfishness something we should nuture in our children? We’ve all lied before – should we cultivate lying just because it’s part of our nature? Or do we try to curb the natural selfishness that occurs in our children, even if it makes them mad?

    What if a person’s nature told him to murder people because it brings pleasure to see someone die…do we put our stamp of approval on a murderer just because it’s his NATURE to murder people? Of course not! This is where you would say that murdering someone is bringing harm on another person, but homosexuality doesn’t bring harm. But is that the point? If God says that homosexuality is wrong, then it’s wrong, whether our nature tells us otherwise, whether it “brings harm” to others…if it’s wrong, it’s wrong, no matter what kind of excuses we try to come up with to wiggle out of it.

    What you are saying, ultimately, is that since God made me this way, it wouldn’t be fair of him to tell me I’m wrong to live how my nature tells me to live. Are you seriously going to tell God that life it isn’t fair? Are you going to say, “so there!” to God?

    The disobedience to God that we try to gloss over cannot be hidden. He sees all and he will punish every sin, big or small. But Jesus lived that perfect life that we don’t live, and couldn’t live even if we wanted to (because of that nasty nature again). Jesus lived a sinless life and then died a horrible death. It wasn’t FAIR that a completely innocent man was murdered. But it happened. And all of the wrath that God has stored up for sinners was poured out on Christ on the cross. Jesus’s righteousness can be ours by faith, and all of our punishment was layed on Jesus. It’s an exchange that doesn’t make sense, because it means that Jesus got the short end of the stick. He got all the bad, and we got all the good. But that’s how gracious and amazing God is! If we turn to Him in faith and turn away from our sin, He forgives our sin and gives us Himself as our treasure.

    Jesus is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

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