Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Do I Defend Marriage?

I wrote this response to a friend on Facebook recently and felt that it was a fairly succinct summary of my reasons for defending marriage.  The first part is clearly religious and has its roots in my faith and membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But the second part outlines my secular/social science reasons for defending marriage.
T:

"I'm suggesting that we debate the merits of this Initiative [Prop 8], given that it was NOT a commandment of God."

Pearl:

Marriage between a man and a woman is a commandment of God. Take a hard look at The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Are you suggesting that God vacillates? I think it is clear that while we fickle humans invent moral relativity and political correctness, there are still absolutes. God is absolute. While practices and rituals have changed over centuries and ages, principles have not. And never will, no matter what we mortals believe. Good is good, bad is bad, white is white, black is black, and people who choose black and then attempt to pass it off as white will always be upset and unhappy and disillusioned when the general population sees right through the guise.

Following the Prophet is the best defense we have against the confusion of moral relativism. The Prophet asked the Saints to defend marriage between a man and a woman. Seems pretty simple to me. We don't just follow the Prophet when it is convenient for us or when his mandates, commandments, and supplications align with our own thinking. We do it no matter what we believe and it is after the test of our faith that we receive confirmation of the truth. For whatever reason, this concept is harder for some to grasp than others. We see it in the scriptures all the time, people demanding that God show them a sign before they are willing to proceed with His commandments. And always the answer is the same; they are chastised for having so little faith. Yet for those who humble themselves and follow "blindly" (having God as a guide hardly makes us blind), the reward is beyond our limited comprehension.

I have digressed.

Your whole premise (in your post) that Proposition 8 is "cementing bigotry" into the California Constitution is based solely on the fact that you don't believe upholding marriage between a man and a woman is a commandment of God. But you fail to recognize the myriad social reasons for which we uphold marriage. One could debate against homosexual marriage all day and still never touch upon a religious argument. Research, experience, and history all defend the institution of marriage between one man and one woman. And all you can come back with is yet another emotional appeal, vividly ignorant of reason, "cause pain to millions of people and leave thousands of families in doubt." Yes, their pain is real, but what of their choice to pursue the lifestyle and seek special status in the face of illegality in the first place? Why are they being released from the responsibility and consequences of their actions? And why is blame for disillusionment and disappointment being projected onto the so-called "oppressors"? A little quiet introspection is in order here, I think. There is a pernicious sense of entitlement that flows through our society that has risen to such soaring heights that natural laws and Constitutional freedoms are threatened by it.

Marriage, when executed properly (let's get rid of no-fault divorce), benefits children, families, society, and government by being the most basic and wholesome springboard to the future. When marriage is undermined by senseless and selfish redefinition, that springboard falters and crumbles. In the case of homosexual marriage, children grow up in gender confusion denied, by design, access to one opposite-sex parent through which important life lessons and character traits would have been learned, and through the observation of which, future decisions of career, spouse, family, and civic involvement are heavily influenced. A mother is vitally important for different reasons than a father is vitally important, but it is amply clear that the absence of one or the other has a definite, negative development effect on children that no amount of love can compensate for. Love, T, contrary to popular belief these days, is not all you need. If love is all you need, why do we have boundaries, rules, and discipline for our children? If love is all you need, why do we have so many people divorcing even while they proclaim their mutual love for each other? I love my brother. I love my father. I love my cousin. But I cannot legally marry them (and thank goodness for that). Government regulates marriage for the benefit of society; to ensure the best possible emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual outcome for the potential posterity of the marital union. It doesn't matter that that union may be sterile or that it may end up in divorce. Just because the human execution is malfunctioning (sterility) or flawed (divorce) or even broken (abuse), does not make the divine institution flawed. Marriage is what it is and those who pretend otherwise are endangering not only themselves by exposing their tender feelings to more disappointment (marriage appropriation will not yield the acceptance they so yearn for), but our country's innocent future as well - the children.

~Pearl

15 comments:

LdsNana said...

Thank you for an excellent post, that brings the whole marriage argument right back to where it has always belonged -- in the hands of God.
tDMg

Chairm said...

Pearl, I appreciate your two-part response. Yes, your religious assessment is consistent with your secular assessment. Whether or not the former has a higher priority in your overall assessment, there is more than enough there to justify your political support of Proposition 8.

Yours is a very good formulation. It expresses restraint, tolerance, and a healthy balance of the private and the public aspects of one's stated beiefs our public square.

The SSM campaign seeks to seperate people from their foundational beliefs and the interdependency of religious and secular principles where marriage is a PUBLIC relationship in a PLURALISTIC society.

The SSM campaign tries to impose sectarianism on the marriage issue. We saw that when there was a pernicious gossip campaign that tried to pit Protestant Evangelicals against Catholics against Mormons. It is blatant in the attempt to make of identity politics a new leap of faith -- a quasi religious assertion of the doctrine of indiscriminatedness.

The attempt to foster religious schisms and political factionalism is answered in your remarks.

I hope you'll expand on that theme because, as you may have noticed, many marriage defenders feel like they are being pressed into the corner and against the ropes when they'd rather be standing toe-to-toe with the adversary in the middle of the ring with both hands raised -- religious and secular.

Cheers,
Chairm

jscottsarrio said...

I was born gay. All my life I had struggled to be straight so I can be accepted as "normal". It's a painful experience because I can never be straight same with straight people who can't be gay. It's who I am. No matter what you say or your Bible, God loves me. I believe that wholeheartedly and you cannot take that away from me.

Someday people like you will realize that the Bible had not been translated correctly. I believe that God is a loving father. Everyday I am thankful that I was created as gay -- even with all the hardships and prejudice I've experienced. I'm special because If I weren't gay, I wouldn't experience what other gay people experience. Perhaps I will be an intolerant person like you too.

It's true what they say, don’t judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.

Pearl said...

jscottsarrio,

I am not an intolerant person, but I will allow that concession on your part if you insist on imposing erroneous character traits on those whose opinion differs from your own.

I am sorry for the pain you have experienced in your life. I, too, believe that God loves you. He loves us all, but He does not love all of our choices. You may have been born with a tendency toward same-sex attraction, but you are not beholden to your emotional appetites. None of us is.

In fact, a surrender to emotional appeal is what's driving away our country's ability to reason through difficult situations and issues these days.

I wish you the best of luck facing the struggles you grapple with regularly. We agree on one thing at least - God does love you.

jscottsarrio said...

"You are not beholden to your emotional appetites", people say this to me all the time. That's why I ended up marrying a woman to convince myself that I will learn to love her.

It's very painful to look at my wife every day knowing that I am deceiving her. I love her but I am not attracted to her. Everyday I wake up imagining stabbing myself because of the lies I have created. If only gay marriage exist and gay people are accepted, I don't think I would go to this extreme to be "normal" and be "accepted".

I know I am not the only gay man who also has the same experience marrying a woman, convincing ourselves that we will learn to be heterosexual. It is not possible. It's NOT a choice like many of you want to believe. You have no idea how much pain we go through: the lies, the pretension, the act, to be perceived that we belong. I admire those gay people who are open, who are not afraid to say they are gay because I can't do it, i can only do it behind a computer, but not in real life for fear of being judged and hated.

Pearl, if only you were in my shoes, you would experienced the extreme pain I feel every day. Even reading your article make me feel inferior to you because you have rights and I don't.

I console myself that in God's eyes, we are equal. I know in my heart that I am not committing a sin if a love another man. But the greatest sin I've ever made was marrying a woman and lying to her. And that is the sin I can't live with everyday. I will never ever reveal to my wife that I am attracted to men because I don't want to hurt her. I would rather experience the hurt myself than her.

I wish you the best too. I want to tell you how lucky you are and many others like you that you don't have to experience our situation.

God has a purpose for me, I don't know what it is yet. Perhaps to tell my stories to other gays and not live a lie. I hope someday when more of our children our educated, they will realize that gay are humans too, and deserve the same rights as everyone else.

JScott

thepomegranateapple said...

Scott, your situation is really hard. It makes me sad that you were somehow coerced into marrying. I'm not going to give you marriage advice. But I will say that marriage is not about sexual attraction-- at least in the governments eyes.

1. Where does Pearl state or infer that those with SSA are not humans?

op-ed said...

JScott: That's why I ended up marrying a woman to convince myself that I will learn to love her.

That, like all your actions, was your choice. Nobody here would advocate such a choice and I doubt you would, either.

I know in my heart that I am not committing a sin if a love another man.

Would you be committing a sin if you loved another woman? What about it being a man makes it not a sin for you to break your vow to your wife to cherish only her?

But the greatest sin I've ever made was marrying a woman and lying to her.

It is the same sin committed by any man who marries any woman to whom he is not committed to being faithful.

Perhaps to tell my stories to other gays and not live a lie.

That would mean God's purpose for you involves your living a lie, which is nonsense. Would you describe a man who is tempted by other women as "living a lie?"

I hope someday when more of our children our educated, they will realize that gay are humans too, and deserve the same rights as everyone else.

Our children are not "educated" today or we were not "educated" when we were children?

You made a bad choice. Making a marriage commitment you were not prepared to keep has put you in a bad situation, no different than the situation of others who make that same choice. You cannot blame your bad choice on the education of others.

You are human. You may have made a mistake, but that hardly disqualifies you as human, just like everyone else. I do not envy your position or the position of any of the others whom you have involved in that decision. I wish you well in your efforts to resolve the position in which you have placed yourself. Please find someone you trust who can help you and advise you how best to correct your past mistakes and move forward with your life. Nobody across an anonymous internet can fill that role for you.

jscottsarrio said...

op-ed:

Yes, I am committing a sin when I "tried" to love another woman because I am living a lie. I could never love a woman fully because I am not attracted to a woman. Would you love someone "fully" if you're not sexually or emotionally attracted to that person? I don't think so.

I cannot convince you what is right and same goes with you.

Your opinion is just that, your opinion. But that does not mean it is right.

Your god is different from my God. I believe he created me with a purpose and he loves me. I am not committing a sin because I am attracted to men. I am committing a sin because I lied to my wife. I should have been true to myself and married a man in the first place.

In time, I will correct my mistake. And I'm confident that someday, maybe in 10 years, we will all look back about this gay marriage issue and realize how I am no different than you.

Opinion poll in America says 55% of Americans oppose gay marriage but almost 70% of young people between the ages of 18 to 45 support gay marriage. Someday support will turn on our side.

Years ago, women could not vote, slavery was legal, interracial marriage was illegal, abortion was banned, stem cells research was banned as well. The only reason gay marriage is not legal because of the misconception about gays. But once people get to know us, they will realize that we are all the same: we all want to love and be loved.

op-ed said...

Jscott: I am committing a sin when I "tried" to love another woman...

This makes no sense. You claim you "could never love a woman," but you "tried" to cheat on your wife with another woman? Did that strike you as less wrong than cheating on her with a man? You are sounding more vindictive than conflicted.

Opinion poll in America says 55% of Americans oppose gay marriage but almost 70% of young people between the ages of 18 to 45 support gay marriage.

A significant portion of "young people" believe in the Easter Bunny. That does not mean there will be shrines to the Easter Bunny popping up across America in the next few years. These polls only tell us something about the frailty of youth, not about the future of marriage.

The only reason gay marriage is not legal because of the misconception about gays.

No, it's because people do understand marriage.

jscott said...

op-ed:

We could never convince each other what is right or wrong. Even if I explain my side, you will still consider me a sinner and an inferior person than you.

Your comment about 'Easter Bunny' is somewhat offensive. I'm not talking about young people below 18 years old.

You may speak fluent English, but hey, I speak four languages.

I understand marriage too. Marriage is two consenting adults who promise to love each other fully.

I was forced to marry a woman because my parents wanted me to be normal, to marry a woman like every man would. It was the greatest mistake I've ever done. But had society accepted gays, I don't think my parents would not be ashamed of me if I marry a man.

Anyway, have a little bit of compassion. You've never experienced what I've gone through so don't judge like you're the only person who understand marriage.

If being gay is a choice, oh god, I wish I was straight. Can you believe waking up each day being judge and discriminated against because of my sexual orientation. It's the most difficult thing in the world.

Chairm said...

When a man and a woman form a marriage it is a choice both make together.

It is a marriage even if he tried to love her but failed to love her in some specific way you have in mind.

Yet he did enter marriage lawfully. Whatever kind of love you say might be lacking in their marriage, love is not compulsory in the marriage law. That is so even if "love" is part of a modern tradition.

Also, this shows that the man, if he feels he is homosexual, was not barred from entering marriage due to "sexual orientation discrimination".

To form some nonmarital alternative is a choice. A man cannot become husband to another man, but they are free to live and love as they wish.

If your complaint is that an all-male alternative is not treated exactly like the union of husband and wife, well, that is due to such an alternative lacking the core meaning of marriage. It has zilch to do with sexual orientation. Heterosexual men can no more make of each other husbands and can men of any other sexual inclination - be that bisexual, homosexual, or asexual, etc.

On Lawn said...

Even if I explain my side, you will still consider me a sinner and an inferior person than you.And you would consider yourself superior to everyone who believes in marriage equality ... the quality if each gender's representation in marriage?

I understand marriage too. Marriage is two consenting adults who promise to love each other fully.I don't think I'd argue with that. But I think it may explain much of your frustration with the equality part of marriage, the part where you work to ensure the quality of the other gender's participation also. That isn't living a lie no matter how you slice it, but I can see where you would feel that way if you had such a self-revolving definition of marriage that the other person had to sexually meet your "needs" all the time.

I was forced to marry a woman because my parents wanted me to be normal, to marry a woman like every man would.I keep saying, that if people really understood what marriage was they would crawl across the Mojave Desert in July (if they thought it would help) to find someone of the other sex who felt the same way about marriage, and then get married to them.

I for one would be the first to ward someone off of the idea that marriage makes them normal, or complete, or whole. It doesn't, in fact it will always be hard work. It is the hard work that we contribute to getting along with the other gender which makes us whole, not the marriage certificate.

Its a sense of seeing your children, and knowing that to them you two being together means the whole world. They identify with you both, and need to see you to loving, honoring, and cherishing each other.

It comes from honoring what makes each gender unique, and supporting those differences.

Oddly enough, as dry as that sounds -- it creates a fullness of love between both genders in every situation.

It was the greatest mistake I've ever done. But had society accepted gays, I don't think my parents would not be ashamed of me if I marry a man.Accepting gays is one thing, an important thing, but not the only thing. Do you accept what marriage means to those defending it? That it means keeping the family in-tact, it means supporting the co-creator of your children, and it means responsibility for the children you create together?

Anyway, have a little bit of compassion. You've never experienced what I've gone through so don't judge like you're the only person who understand marriage.Nor, does it seem, you have experienced what we have gone through. The experiences we've had that tell us how important marriage is, not as an ideal within the constructs of gender-attraction -- but as an ideal to support our children and the people we joined with in creating them. The experience of having the whole family together, and knowing that there is nothing I wouldn't give to help ensure their wellbeing, self-esteem and happiness. And knowing their happiness hinges in large part on my ability to fully love (whether that includes attraction or not) their other parent drives that very difficult decision in their favor all of the time.

Do you accept that we have these experiences which tell us exactly what marriage is, and why it is so much more meaningful to society than (the also noble) mutually loving and trusting relationship of two adults?

If being gay is a choice, oh god, I wish I was straight.I'm going to be very blundt. You can't choose who you are attracted to, but you can choose who you love. And who better to choose to love than the person who your children identify with as their other natural parent?

Attractions lead us in so many different directions over time, one cannot possibly expect it to be the guiding light of who we should be married to...

Can you believe waking up each day being judge and discriminated against because of my sexual orientation. It's the most difficult thing in the world.You just told us a story where you discriminated (unfairly if you ask me) against your wife (later ex-wife) because of your own sexual orientation. How do you judge yourself in this court of anti-discrimination?

I'm not saying you didn't go through a lot, or that you should never wish you never got married considering your plight. Just consider that all I'm really saying is that you were not considering others enough, you put your own needs above them. I would have more sympathy for that, except I've heard to many heterosexuals make that exact same plea. And I've known their kids and spouses, and the heart-ache their searching for an affair of the heart caused them.

While I'm sympathetic to your story, I have to say I am far more sympathetic to those more innocent than you in this matter, who are now more vulnerable because they are without a father or husband.

jscott said...

Someday, like in many countries in world which now legalized same sex marriage like Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden -- we will all look back that gays contribute to society too. We raise our children in good and loving way same as our heterosexual counterparts.

These countries are prosperous, happy and free.

I disagree with your opinion 100% but it is only just that: an opinion.

God is great and he created me perfectly. I have nothing else to change. And you cannot convince me otherwise.

You will see in 10, the USA will be one of the countries which will legalize same sex marriage. Thank God for that.

Chairm said...

In each of those places there is no legal requirement for same-sex sexual attraction, nor for same-sex sexual behavior, nor for gayness.

So the thing sought is NOT based on a sexual orientation.

Marriage, on the other hand, is a sexual relationship -- see the marital presumption of paternity and the public aspect of that sexual type of relationship.

That won't change in 10 years. It has not changed in those places which have imposed SSM.

What did change was the imposition of gay identity politics over and above marriage and justice. Relabelling nonmarriage as marriage is a charade and an injustice.

That is what is entailed in your prediction.

In none of those places have nonmarital trends stalled or been reversed. Is the downard trend part of your prediction, too? Or are you merely going to deny your part in encouraging it?

You may not like to imagine that you have been attacking marraige, but so what?

That is precisely what you are doing when you wish for the Government to abolish the man-woman criterion of marital status.

It is precisely what you are doing when you look forward to changing the culture so that society will be bamboozled by the false claim that children will be raised in "a good and loving way" when fatherhood is systematically segregated from motherhood.

No one-sexed scenario can attain children without the other sex. You know it. You want to segregate the sexes and not for the sake of the children. Two pre-requisites for double-dad or double-mom scenarios: 1) parental relinquishment (or loss), and 2) government intervention to assign a replacement.

With third-party procreation (i.e. use of "donors" in IVF / ARTs) the relinquishment is pre-emptive and is enabled by government legislation to shield the donor from the child. You can't claim that the adults in such a case act in the best interests of children since those children are not concieved until the adults make their selfish choice to attain children for a deliberately fatherless or motherless home.

You really ought to learn more about the nature of humankind -- that which is God-given -- rather than spend so much of your energery clinging to a socio-political construct that self-references. Whatever wonderfulness you feel is attached to gay identity, it is anathema to marriage, sex equality, and to responsible procreation.

Rise above identity politics. Leave marriage alone.

Mabye during the next several years, or sooner, you'll come to realize that there is a core meaning to marriage that SSM can never match.

That denying this to future generations would not be something that children would be thankful for. That the SSM campaign is dead wrong when it abuses judicial review and corrupts the legislative process. That occured in each of the places you named. The end is not just; and the unjust means do not transform an unjust end into something worthy.

What you call "same sex marriage" lacks a core meaning. If you think it has a core meaning, then, plainly state it.

If you depend on a mere assertion of identity politics, then, you'd concede the point.

On Lawn said...

Oh how quickly the victim turns to oppressing victor...

God is great and he created me perfectly. I have nothing else to change. And you cannot convince me otherwise.