Gay “Marriage”: A Debate about a Word?

Webster's Unabridged DictionaryA common misunderstanding about the debate over gay “marriage” is that this whole dust-up amounts to an argument about a word. The misunderstanding goes like this: “Conservatives want the word ‘marriage’ to refer to heterosexual unions, and liberals want the word to refer to heterosexual and homosexual unions.” If this were all that was as stake in this debate, then all that would be required is an updated edition of the dictionary.

Unfortunately, some commentators have promoted this misunderstanding in their analysis of the New Jersey Supreme Court decision that forces the state legislature to create a bill offering same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. Some commentators have heralded the decision as a “wise compromise” because it grants homosexuals the rights of marriage, while allowing social conservatives to reserve the word “marriage” for heterosexual unions.

But anyone who thinks the New Jersey decision is a good compromise does not understand what is really at stake in this debate. The question that our culture faces is not whether this or that group gets to use the word “marriage” any way they please. The question is whether we as a society will privilege in law the union of one man and one woman over all other kinds of unions.

Not only are there clear religious grounds for privileging heterosexual unions in law (see the created order in Genesis 2 for example), but there are also social reasons. As one conservative has put it, “unions between men and women bring forth welcome fruits, primarily the children who become citizen-successors and provide for the continuation of the state” (source).

Thus the New Jersey Supreme Court’s allowance of same-sex unions is really no compromise at all. It’s a complete capitulation to the distorted opinion that all unions are created equal. Merely retaining the word “marriage” is no victory at all if proponents of gay “marriage” are able to dislodge heterosexual unions from their privileged place in law.

Any society that diminishes the family (with the father and mother at the center) as the fundamental unit of society begins its own undoing. And that sad result is certainly much more than semantics.

11 Responses to Gay “Marriage”: A Debate about a Word?

  1. Debbie Wimmers October 30, 2006 at 5:56 pm #

    Just goes to show how warped our society is.

  2. Paul October 30, 2006 at 6:51 pm #

    No, Debbie, it doesn’t go to show how warped our society is. God says homosexuality is wrong, and I won’t be the one to question Him about it. That said, it is downright ignorant that many Christians yammer on as if it were the single greatest sin that Satan had ever invented. It’s not, I’m sorry.

    Let’s face it, on a governmental level, attempts to ban gay marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are ludicrous. We’re talking about possibly 7% of the population that is gay/lesbian/bisexual (I’m saying 7% because even the GLBT community only claims 10% and most other sources claim closer to 5%. 7% is right in the middle). That 7% is not going to bring procreation to a screeching halt. That 7% is not going to undermine family values. Instead, we need to understand the fact that that 7% should be just as able to pass on their estate to whoever they please. That 7% should be able to tend to their own as they see fit in life or death situations. That 7% of the population deserves to be able to live their lives as they see fit, as long as it does no harm to anyone else. AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF OUR CONSTITUTION.

    This is one instance in which some Christians are acting an awful lot like Muslims. I’m wondering how much longer until folks like Debbie will want to start charging homosexuals a “dhimmi” like tax until they reform their ways?

  3. Debbie Wimmers October 30, 2006 at 7:32 pm #

    What I meant was that the world is turning away from God. God is going to judge the gays, make that, he already is. I’m saying the government shouldn’t pay for their sin.

  4. Scott October 30, 2006 at 8:09 pm #

    Funny that we don’t say, “God is going to judge the hetero’s,” meaning, heterosexuals engaged in pre or extra-marital sex.

  5. Paul October 30, 2006 at 9:02 pm #

    Debbie,

    I certainly hope that God will be (and already is) judging all of the other sinners as well.

    The government isn’t paying for their sin (whatever that means). As American citizens, they deserve the same rights as all other citizens. Especially property rights, as this is after all, first and foremost, a capitalist nation.

  6. Jake Naramore November 2, 2006 at 5:43 pm #

    Scott,

    Obviously you do not understand the importance of this issue. It is not so much the issue of what Christians view as sinful or what the government condones or condemns. What matters is what God’s word says about these various subjects. Regardless of the government’s stance or support of an issue, it is the Christians duty to voice their opposition to ideology that will ultimately allow for a deterioration of the values that this country was founded upon. Your arguments are very rational and make sense to a world that is full of corruption and sin. You are right, there are many other sins that we all should focus on as well, but for heaven sakes, see the writing on the wall! Look at Harvard University. Harvard was started by Puritans who held to Biblical beliefs closer than most Christians today. What is Harvard University today? It is an excellent academic institution that has absolutely no standards or regard for Biblical beliefs.

    Look at the big picture Scott. Any organization whether government, university or business that makes any change, greatly affects the culture and ultimately affects the values that the organization was founded upon. Look at Baylor University in Waco. Originally it was a great Baptist University that held strong to their beliefs and values. Over time people began to make small changes, leaning towards the traditional liberal world view. At a glance, these changes seemed small and inconsequential. However, the next group of leaders that came along also made small changes that did not seem to be a big deal. Over a period of time you begin to realize that on the larger scale these small changes that were made over time allowed for the culture of the organization to change; ultimately changing the identity of the school.

    I have given these examples so that you might rethink your stance on this subject. Although you don’t see “gay unions” as a big deal, you are not looking at the larger picture. If we were to support such a change it will ultimately allow our future government to make further changes that will eventually allow for an erosion of most of the values that this country was founded upon.

    Alas, your comment about 7% not affecting family values is probably the most irrational thing I have read today. Do some research on Adolph Hitler and tell me how his beliefs did not affect thousands or even millions. All it takes is a single person with leadership to change many! So, 7% is actually a pretty big deal. In fact I can guarantee you that 20 years ago it wasn’t at 7% and the percentage of gays was less. How would you explain the increase if that original percentage didn’t have an affect on others? Look at Sodom and Gomorrah.

    One other clarification I would like to make is that it doesn’t matter if you are a gay or lesbian, you can leave your estate to whoever you want. Maybe I misunderstood, but I am not seeing how any gay or lesbian doesn’t have the same rights that I do.

    The very essence of our constitution was founded on Biblical values my friend. Maybe you ought to do more research before you criticize what Debbie is saying. The constitution does not and should not be amended for a cultural shift in moral values.

    In all due respect this world is full of people like you that are willing to make changes to fit the current culture. Do you know what that is? It is a lack of character and a lack having absolutes. Wrong is always wrong! It doesn’t change with the times!

    -Jake Naramore

  7. Jake Naramore November 2, 2006 at 5:57 pm #

    I meant that to go to Paul! Not Scott! I apologize!

  8. Paul November 2, 2006 at 9:24 pm #

    Jake,

    please do not tell me how much character or how hardly held my absolutes are. I have ALWAYS been a civil libertarian, and I will continue to be so until the day that I die. The lack of character that I may have would be the same lack of character held by Barry Goldwater, George Will and to a slightly lesser extent, Ronald Reagan. If lack of character puts me in that company, then let me be the first to sign up for that newsletter! Wrong may always be wrong, but there are certain areas of right and wrong that the government has no place defining. That is the basis of my argument.

    The founding fathers that everyone wishes to hold in such high esteem were not Christians. They were deists, and they were masons. These are not at all compatible beliefs. The founding fathers were capitalists before they were anything else. They grew marijuana, owned slaves, and had extra-marital affairs with those slaves. Thomas Jefferson cut and pasted his copy of the Bible to remove any mention of Christ’s divinity. James Monroe made certain to mention that the Constitution was not at all based on The Bible when in negotiations with Libya in the 1700’s. The very notion of the self made man that Americans hold dear is in direct opposition to the idea of a man molded in God’s image. To try to tell me that the “values this country was founded upon” were anything other than life, liberty and PROPERTY is nothing short of ignorance of our nation’s history.

    Trying to link gays and lesbians to Hitler is asinine, and any rational thinker would agree. Hitler rode to power due to the fact that (a) there has always been vast anti-semitism in Europe, and (b) Germany, of all places, was looking for a scapegoat for the horrible position that France (and the U.S.) put them in at the end of WWI. That has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that more people have come out of the closet since the 60’s. It’s amazing what some people will stoop to, in order to try to prove their points. You should be ashamed for trying to make such a correlation.

    Anyway…

    Gays and lesbians do have the same rights as we do. To an extent. However, there are family rights that they lack as units. Right now, gay folk have no right to death benefits when a partner dies. Right now, if one of them were in the hospital, they would lack the right to make decisions for that person. If there is no will, in the event of a death, that partner wouldn’t receive anything. If there was a will, it could be challenged in court. There are plenty of instances like this where they end up being second class citizens in a secular country because of the way that you bastardize our religious beliefs. And that is wrong.

    Now, you’re right, to a degree, that if two people filed enough paperwork that they could essentially pull off everything mentioned above. But why should they have to? They shouldn’t have to.

    And, sir, before you go talking about the constitution, it would have to be amended to allow for a ban on gay marriage. You are absolutely right, that the constitution should not be amended. Thank you for that.

    There is much to be considered on both sides of this argument. However, at the end of the day, you must remember that this is a capitalist and secular country before it is anything else.

  9. Jake Naramore November 3, 2006 at 11:38 am #

    Paul,

    Thank you for your well thought response. Although I do not know you, I appreciate you taking the time to further explain your stance.

    One of my questions for you Paul is where do you draw the line as a Civil Libertarian? If you have such a firm grasp on your absolutes, please tell me what those absolutes are based on. I am only interested in further understanding your position and how you have arrived at your conclusions.

    I believe that the government made the determination as to what they would define as right and wrong long ago (based on Biblical principles). It seems to me that it was clear to the founding fathers that marriage was between a man and a woman. They never imagined such degradation would occur in our moral values that they would have to protect “marriage” from such attacks.

    In regard to your comment about the founding fathers not being Christians is fine. Remember I never did say they were Christians; I said “The very essence of our constitution was founded on Biblical values…” This is accurate regardless of what the founding fathers might have practiced.

    As for my point regarding Hitler I think that you have misunderstood or maybe I have failed in communicating it clearly to you. I am sure that you disagree with the actions of Hitler and many Germans. My point has nothing to do with what led him to power, but rather the power that one person might have over a particular group of people. I am surprised that you thought I was trying to link gays and lesbians to Hitler. Again, I was using that as an example to substantiate the point that it only takes ONE leader to affect many. That is why it is called a leader. People follow.

    You are right, gays and lesbians have the same rights that you and I have. As a “unit” they do not, and I wholeheartedly believe that they never should. I do not have a problem with Gays and lesbians in regard to giving them respect as a human being. They deserve the same respect as any other human. I believe that many Christians are portrayed as Gay haters because the homosexual lifestyle goes against what the Bible says about it. I disagree with their actions as I disagree with extra-marital affairs and any other sin. To give credence or such recognition to those lifestyles as deserving “rights” is utterly ridiculous. I do not hate anyone for sinning because I am a sinner too and it is God’s place to judge. Although I am not a homosexual, I have done many things that I am not proud of in my life. It is my duty to work towards eliminating anything in my life that might be sinful and pursuing a closer relationship with God. It is an ongoing battle.

    Thank you for correcting me in regard to amending the constitution. I was wrong in that regard and I appreciate you correcting my inaccurate comment.

    I am curious to understand why you believe America is a secular country. Why is “God” on so many government monuments? Why is “In God We Trust” on our money? Why is the Ten Commandments posted in Washington? Why does the Pledge of Allegiance include “One Nation under God?” Why would I be mistaken to believe that this nation was founded on Biblical principles when our very laws correlate with the Bible? I understand that some of the examples I have used mentioning God were put into place after our “founding fathers.”

    Again, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and debate this subject.

    -Jake Naramore

  10. Paul November 4, 2006 at 12:50 am #

    Jake,

    Well thanks for keeping this largely civil here.

    To answer the absolutes question, I have to divide it into two parts. The first part requires me to quote Gandhi: “if Christians actually lived by the Sermon on the Mount, the entire world would turn to Christianity.” Never, and I mean N-E-V-E-R have truer words been spoken. While I can’t (and really, who can?) live to that high standard, I try.

    The second part of that answer lies in the fact that I have always grown up around lots of Goldwater/Will/P.J. O’Rourke styled libertarian conservatives. Double that up with being a full blown modern day hippie in my early 20’s, and you get someone who truly believes that while I should quote Christ in regards to my living, government would do better to quote Crowley: Do what thou wilt shall be the extent of the law.

    What that translates into is that as far as government goes, if it isn’t hurting someone else, it should be allowed. Read that carefully, and you’ll understand why there are so many pro-life libertarians.

    And while abortion is an issue that definitely hurts someone and keeps at least half of the would be decision makers out of the loop, gay marriage is NOT that kind of issue whatsoever.

    And, let’s face it, even the argument is flawed at the end of the day. If the leaders of the religious right are going to say that gay marriage jeopardizes the sanctity of marriage, then I’d like to know what they plan on doing about adultery. And I’d love to know what they plan on doing about divorce. Because if they’re trying to protect the sanctity of marriage, then they ought to try to fix heterosexual marriages first, shouldn’t they?

    In regards to the statement that the founding fathers didn’t have to be Christian to make laws based on “Biblical values” is an empty point. Let’s face it, of all of our laws, only two of the ten commandments correlate. And if you get away from the stuff that a secular state cannot enforce (thou shalt have no other gods before Me, etc), now you’re left with a generic high moral ground. The Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus and the Buddhists all agree that you shouldn’t murder, lie, steal, rape or pillage. Sure, those are Biblical Values, but they’re also Koranic values and Hindi values as well. So, how should Robertson and Falwell amend their screaming statements? “This country was founded on generic, vaguely religious values!!!!”

    The values alluded to in the Constitution and in the Declaration of Independance have far more to do with the wealthy man who only followed nine of the commandments. The values alluded to by our founding fathers had more to do with the merchants in the temple than the Christ that overturned their tables. This was a country founded by greedy capitalists, with an army made up of lots of people desperately looking to start all over again after they messed up good and well in Europe.

    Finally, to your last point. Yes, you’re right, the mentions of God on our money were put in place in the 1950’s, in part as a defense against those evil, godless communists. The Pledge was written in 1892, and had no mention of God in the original draft. The words “Under God” were added in 1954.

  11. Sandy September 20, 2007 at 1:25 pm #

    Please understand that homosexuality is a sin. Argue with God not with Christians. He said it. It’s just that simple. And yes, the church lowered the standard so much by sugarcoating the message of the Gospel. Divorce makes me as sick as a homosexual lifestyle.It’s sickening what is happening in the American church especially, not only in regards to divorce but we have a sexualized church in America nowadays. Look at women and see how they dress. It’s not enough that men have to deal with women explicit show off in the day-to-day basis, they have to deal with that in the church too. That’s why so many church leaders fall into adultery. Women know they have sex power and they use it to full extent. And Christian women use it nonchalantly. Yeack!!! It’s just sickening! That’s why there is so much apathy around when it comes to the prodigal son returning home. He doesn’t know where the Father’s house is anymore. He is so confused. And the Gospel is the good news that Christ died for the mankind’s sin to be reconciled with the Father. That’s it. And when you receive Him, I am telling you, you cannot stay the same when you’ve been touched by Him. It’s imposible. Jesus turns your life upside down. The Gospel is the power (dynamite in Greek)unto salvation. You may stumble, you may wander around at times, but a person who has radically indeed been born from the Spirit and water always comes back to the Father in repentance. It’s impossible to stay in the pit when you know there is grace above. We are to seek God and want to be clean and go from glory to glory. Jesus gave His life brother so I might be free. What the heck!!!

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