Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Marriage is about kids. And nothing else.

National Review blasts last week's federal court ruling knocking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The editors offer up -- once again -- a familiar argument for traditional marriage that, while much-debated the last few years, always is very bracing to me.

The actual motive for having governments recognize the union of a man and a woman (and only such a union) as a marriage is to encourage, in a gentle and non-coercive way, the formation and maintenance of a stable environment in which children can naturally come to be. If heterosexual coupling did not regularly produce children there would be no reason for the institution of marriage to exist, let alone for governments to recognize it.

What a depressingly -- implausibly -- narrow view of marriage.

No doubt, children are a common byproduct of heterosexual marriage. That's certainly been the case in my marriage, and I'm glad of it. But the pairing instinct -- one that predated any government recognition of the "institution" of marriage -- far exceeds simple propigation of the species. People, as a general rule, want company. They want sex, they want economic partnerships, they want somebody to hang out with.

To reduce marriage to merely a mechanism of natural child-creation -- as National Review and other conservatives regularly do, because it's pretty much the one thing that heterosexual marriage offers that same-sex partnerships can't -- is, when you think about it, a surprisingly Darwinian argument coming from a movement that is largely theology-minded. It aggressively ignores that humans are social, spiritual creatures and that they express those characteristics, often but not exclusively, through marriage. The conservative case against same-sex marriage reduces the "institution" to simple biology. It's a point of view that reduces humanity to the level of beasts, with a bureaucracy.


Notorious Ph.D. said...

Yep. Hell, maybe National Review would like to be consistent, and prohibit or dissolve marriages between childless couples, or those embarked upon past childbearing age. After all, if bearing and raising children is what marriage is about, then that couple who meets in the rec room at Leisure World and decides they'd like to spend the rest of their lives together is just plain unnatural.

(So much snark for so early in the day. Yet I'm more than a little sensitive on this topic.)

Wry Mouth said...

"To reduce marriage to merely a mechanism of natural child-creation"

Sigh. Let's all repeat till we're blue in the face: there is no advantage whatsoever in children being raised by parents, both of whom are genetically related to the child.

Joel said...

Wry: I never know quite how to engage you on this topic. I appreciate your continued responses, but they feel at once both slippery and yet all-too-final. There is no final appeal beyond nature, is there?

I'm still wrestling with a response to this statement, as a result. More to come. Maybe.