Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Let Everyone Marry

There is a labyrinth of public opinion about same-sex marriage, a garden of wisdom and happiness for those who enter into it.

It's only reasonable to acknowledge, as newspaper articles have recognized, that, like all marriages, some gay marriages will end in divorce, others won't be any happier or less happy than marriages generally. But that being said, the only argument against same-sex marriage is that the "sacred" institution of marriage has been historically a one-man-one-woman relationship and to allow same-sex marriage "makes a travesty" of something sacred.

This is all so much hot air: there is the labyrinth. People who can't stand the thought of same sex couples actually being happy, being intimate, being "normal," don't want to allow them the right of official recognition that everyone else has. They're fighting a losing battle in the courts, trying to get stays, hoping to buy time so the constitutional amendment can be voted on by an electorate they can whip into a froth over the fear that straight marriages are somehow endangered by same-sex marriages.

Here is the garden: marriage generally is beneficial. (I give credit to my wife for these observations, with which I wholeheartedly agree.) It creates more stability in society, confirms a commitment that already exists, is conducive to longer life, and therefore greater productivity. It contributes, under the best of circumstances, to emotional stability, and also therefore to greater productivity and peace of mind. If marriage has all these benefits, we should be eager to have people enter into matrimony, not desperate to keep a small percentage of the population from it.

That same-sex marriages make a travesty of the institution is about as bogus an argument as I can think of: the real travesty is in any couple where there is emotional torment, infidelity, brutality, selfishness, domination, or any other twisted, non-loving dynamic. Heterosexual marriages are filled with such cases. A recent article, after a survey of many same-sex relationships, found them often stronger and emotionally healthier in many ways than traditional marriages: more egalitarian, more rational in the resolution of disagreements, etc.

The history of marriage as one-man-one-woman argument is also bogus. If we want to use history as a guide to marriage, we need to remember the thousands of marriages for money, for social position, for the establishment of inheritance lines.

If we want role models, we should remember that Jesus (apparently) never married and seems to have associated only with men; and Paul recommended that marriage itself is a distraction from the spiritual focus necessary to salvation. Looking back into the part of the Bible that conservative Christians rarely want to think much about, Abraham had a first son with someone other than Sarah; Jacob had multiple wives, Solomon and David likewise. Monogamy itself is not necessarily biblically sanctioned.

I always have to laugh when someone says, "Yeah, the devil can quote scripture." If scripture supports two different positions, how are we to know which one the devil is espousing? Maybe the real devil is the one making the accusation about his/her opponent. Maybe the real devil is the sanctimonious, self-righteous denier of human happiness and satisfaction on the specious high ground of moral imperatives.

My advice for people who think their marriages have been irreparably damaged by allowing same sex marriage: get divorced. Don't sanction this degraded, tarnished institution by continuing to be participants. Leave the rest of us alone. When God is cited for such mean-spirited agendas, small wonder that God begins to seem irrelevant to a meaningful life.