The Scriptorium Daily | John Mark Reynolds | Jun. 18, 2008
Whatever is going on in California, it is not marriage. Two men or two women can no more be married, than a man can be wife or woman a husband. Even if one believes (as I do not) that what is happening between two men or two women is a good thing, it is not the same thing.
Marriage is a Jewish and Christian institution as it exists in much of the world. We built it. We lavished care on it. We wrote great poetry about it.
Growth in marriage was a good sign of civilization. Breakdown in the monotheistic idea of marriage was a good sign of coming decadence and social decay.
Married love is difficult. One reason it is difficult is that it is between a man and a woman. Men and women are not the same and the differences are not just a matter of the plumbing. Whatever friendship or love is between people of the same gender, the dynamics are different when it happens between a man and a woman.
Nobody has to make a man or woman in love want to pledge “until death do us part,” but sustaining that ideal is very hard. Many people do not make it, but when they do, it has been the bedrock of great civilizations.
It is a weird sort of sexism to proclaim that either the man or the woman can be replaced in this dynamic and the institution be the same.
Whatever “gay marriage” is, it is not marriage between a man and a woman. Now that religious Jews and Christians have lost the word, they will have to start over with a new word to describe what men and women are doing.
They are expressing a sacrament of two equally important “others” coming together. This coming together is naturally fecund, biologically, spiritually, and culturally, in ways the coming together of two “sames” can never be. Leaving aside any questions of morality, traditional marriage is not “two people loving each other in a committed relationship.”
It is a man and woman, two distinct and deeply “other” beings, coming together.
Because of the social and civil importance of this coming together, Jewish and Christian civilization hedged this relationship with special rights and advantages. In California, as of this week, all those advantages have been lost.
Soon foolish people will look at the calendar and point out that after a few years “nothing bad has happened” as a result. It is foolish because large cultural institutions can take many blows before they fail. Perhaps this blow will not harm Jewish and Christian marriage enough to kill it in the United States.
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