It plays a large role in our lives whether we want to admit it or not.
We’re all about that age now, when we feel pressured to start thinking about our futures. Aside from decisions regarding majors/minors, grad school, and life after Simpson, society consistently reminds us that our personal lives need attended to as well. Many of our classmates are getting engaged and married, which only adds to the societal pressures.
I’ve done my fair share of thinking about marriage recently, for a variety of reasons. The reason that consumes most of my time is that of marriage equality, or same-sex marriage. It’s a touchy subject, I know.
The whole issue boils down to one single question: “What is marriage?” I grew up in a small Christian community that taught marriage to be the merging of two lives into one in the presence of God. No one specified, however, that marriage was only to be shared between one man and one woman. In recent years it occurred to me that this definition of marriage isn’t the one used by the government.
This forces us to consider what marriage is to the government and what purpose it serves in society. For starters, religious marriage should be completely separate from civil marriage. If the state upheld religious views of marriage, we would see non-Christians and people of other faiths being denied marriage licenses left and right because not all Americans believe in the Christian God.
Others have pointed to reproduction and a stable child-raising environment as the purpose of marriage. Once again, this excludes many people: those who don’t want children, or those who can’t have children. When it comes to marriage providing a stable enrironment to raise children in, who’s to say that two people of the same sex are incapable of raising a child just as well as any other couple?
Let’s not forget that marriage is an institution that was created to serve the needs of society. This becomes especially important when discussing the purpose of marriage today. What needs should be met by marriage? What do you see as marriage’s purpose? These are all questions to consider in the debate over the purpose of marriage; if we ignore these issues and aren’t careful, marriage could end up being denied to a lot more people than it already is.
Intern of Welcome & Celebration
Smith Chapel – Simpson College