What Everyone Misses about the Marriage Debate


is-it-really-about-equalityMake no mistake. The debate on Marriage today is not really about equality.

Cries for equality miss the entire underlying problem…which is that nobody actually agrees as to what Marriage actually is in the first place. Emotional appeals to equality are only distracting and delaying (potentially decades) a much more serious and important discussion as to what Marriage is. And it appears that we’re intent on learning that lesson the hard way as a planet. Which is a sad thing when you think about the children and next generation that will be confused and hurt in the wake of this “equality” movement.

We aren’t just messing with the prudence of some public policy here, folks. We are messing with the very entity that literally creates human beings! And in the process we are ignoring the right of every child to be born into and formed within the relationship of their actual mother and their actual father. Every child has that right (even though it’s not always possible). But anything less should not be treated equally (because it’s not).

But the broadness of the real debate is not easily summed up in 30-second sound bytes or communicated in 140 character status updates. Additionally, the entire foundation of the case for true Marriage has been undermined by our own twisting and redefining of Marriage in so many other ways. It’s our own fault nobody knows what a Marriage is anymore.

And so a complex and much more fundamental debate degrades into a political football that inspires narrow and misunderstood appeals to “equality.” As if equality is some kind of universal good. It’s not. It’s just as unjust to treat unequal things equally as it is to treat equal things unequally.

The appeals must be to justice. Including – most of all – justice for children. And that justice must be rooted in truth, which starts with figuring out what Marriage is in the first place.

If we don’t agree what Marriage is, how can we have a meaningful debate about marriage equality? We can’t. Ask somebody why they are fighting for “marriage equality” what their definition of Marriage is. Their answer will tell you exactly where the real problem is and where we must start.

Until we address that, get ready for decades of more confusion and hurt as the essential building block of our entire society is continually malformed and trivialized into irrelevance.

(More good logic further explaining my point in this article here.)

58 comments Add comment

Connie Rossini March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm

You’re absolutely right that this is about the well-being of children. I live in Minnesota, where the Senate just passed a bill redefining marriage. We are praying it doesn’t pass in the House. It will be close. I find it ironic that the generation that has been hurt so much by divorce and absent fathers (I mean the under-30 crowd) overwhelmingly supports a change that will hurt many more children, in ways we can’t completely predict. Contraception allowed us to get to this place. I pray we stop destroying marriage before whole generations of children are harmed.

Jeff V. March 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Two relevant points to this issue:

– Homosexual activists have, very successfully, convinced the public that theirs is a civil rights issue. You are spot with the question “What is marriage?” I think we also need to ask, “What criteria determine whether civil rights have been violated?” When we do, it becomes evident that sexual orientation is definitely NOT a civil rights issue.

– So many people believe the fallacy that the pinnacle of ALL love is, or necessarily involves, sex. This also helps to lead them down the false road of “equality.”

Marie March 27, 2013 at 12:42 am

Bingo! Paul VI called it in “Humanae Vitae”. Once the procreative purpose of marriage is separated from the unitive purpose, many ills would follow. The acceptance of contraception was the ope:::ning of Pandora’s box!

Chris March 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm

This is the Truth !!

Jesse March 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Good post, brother. Our nation has made far too many choices based on emotions.

Trisha Niermeyer Potter March 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Thank you for sharing these thoughts, as they are indeed what many people don’t get when they say they want same-sex marriage. When we see and treat Marriage as one of the seven Sacraments of the Church, then we don’t try to redefine who is involved, to what greater purpose, etc. Instead, we accept that it as one of the specific ways under the specific guidelines defined by Christ and the Apostles that God gives us to draw closer to Him. Each Sacrament is sacred and indicative of the Truth. If we change the people involved or the significance, then it’s no longer a capital “S” Sacrament. If we are to get a glimpse of the unconditional love and mercy He offers us, we are best off seeking what He wants for us and of us, then living that out with the help of His grace and mercy.

Mark March 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Hmmm…we all have to agree on what marriage is before we can have an equality debate? Do we all have to agree on what love is before we fall in love? Do we all have to agree on what Christianity is before anyone can call themselves Christian?

You seem to think that gay marriage is about whether or not homosexuality is moral. But that’s not what’s being decided. Marriage equality IS about equality.

At the federal level, gay marriage means that gay couples would begin to receive the benefits that straight, married couples have including tax breaks, insurance breaks, medical decisions on behalf of partner, social security survivor benefits, sick leave to care for partner, visitation of partner in hospital, etc. (Plus hundreds more depending on the state.)

Within the Church, gay marriage isn’t going to happen. It goes against Teaching, but that’s not what’s at stake here. Legalizing gay marriage is about all committed couples being treated equally by the U.S. government, which is supposed to be protected by the 14th Amendment.

That’s what the equality debate is about for gays and for those of us who support their cause.

Matthew Warner March 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Mark – your comparisons don’t really follow. The point is simple. If we want to decide how to equally apply something to people, you have to understand and define what that “something” is. Otherwise, it’s impossible to figure out if there’s equality or not.

Further, the question is a matter of justice…is it just to treat same-sex relationships as “equal” to traditional Marriage relationships when in fact they are not at all equal? And isn’t it in fact, unjust to treat them as equal if they are not equal.

I understand the issues here impact virtually everything (that’s because Marriage and the family impacts everything). But in order to have a meaningful debate, we have to first recognize what Marriage is. The terms must be defined.

You fall into the same trap when you imply marriages are simply “committed couples.” Well of course if a Marriage is simply a “committed couple” that would change everything. But it’s not. And it never has been. But that’s what I mean when I say that coming to some kind of understanding of What marriage is MUST come before we can begin to talk about “equality.”

Mark March 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I agree that marriage has a different meaning to different people, and nailing down definitions is key to any debate. However you’re looking at marriage only as a sacrament in your terms, and not how many Americans see it and view it.

It’s silly to think we all have to agree on what marriage is before we can legally have it. Some Americans just view marriage as a contract that can be ended with a divorce. Some jump at infidelity or use it to emotionally abuse their spouse. Others, including you and I, see it (and live it) as a Sacrament. Despite the wide difference, we still have marriages recognized by the U.S.

My wife and I receive the same govt’ benefits as all other married couples, even those not blessed by the Church, or those previously-divorced, or those with infidelity or abuse. Our marriage is not equal to theirs, however, we’re taxed the same way and given the same legal rights.

To gay couples, marriage means having those benefits that I mentioned above. They’re not looking for your blessing or the Church’s blessing. That’s a different battle. They’re looking for those simple legal rights that us that all married couples have.

Is it just semantics? Are you okay if it’s referred to “gay unions”?

If not, do you think only Church-sanctioned marriages should have tax breaks and legal rights?

Matthew Warner March 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Mark – I haven’t brought religion or sacrament into this at all. And it’s not necessary to.

Further, if you think this is all about equal benefits under the law, I think you’re extremely mistaken. If that were so, LBGT groups would have been happy with civil unions in the various places it’s happened. But they aren’t. They want to redefine what society and government treats and holds up as Good. The implications are earth shattering here. What is taught in schools, who can adopt children, how employers must recognize different relationships, etc. There is much more at stake here than I think you realize.

All of the other issues you mention, including benefits, etc. can be fixed without redefining Marriage. And the fact that some traditional Marriages are not good is irrelevant. It is government’s job, in its proper role, to promote the common good. It holds up Marriage as a real thing and something good that perpetuates and makes for a healthy, moral society. The fact that a man-woman marriage falls short of the ideal in practice is irrelevant…and certainly not evidence that the government should change the definition to perpetuate or promote things that are not good.

Of course the debate comes down to determining What is Good? And you can insist that the government stay out of such debate of what is Good (i.e. what is a Marriage or a Good Marriage, etc.), but if its moral obligation as government is to promote the Common Good, then it absolutely must make such judgements. And indeed, that’s exactly what it does when it makes this decision to allow/promote/sanction same-sex marriages or not.

And that’s precisely my point of the post. We must come to a better understanding of what Marriage is before we can talk of equality. And certainly all of us, including the government, must make determinations of what is Good and what is not when it comes to the types of relationships it promotes. The Libertarian approach that claims the government should just stay out of such matters is not only impractical, but it’s not Christian either. Not if we care about the well-being of others. Not if we care about Goodness itself. Not if we care about the millions of children who could be affected and hurt by it.

marco March 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm

“It is government’s job, in its proper role, to promote the common good.”

Your entire contention depends heavily on this glossy assertion. What is the common good? What is the proper role of government? All of these things are subject to the same semantic short-comings as the discussion on the definition of marriage.

The real solution is for government to dissolve the institution of marriage. The only role that government plays in marriage, currently, is by facilitating the legal components for the creation of the marriage contract. If the word marriage is struck from legal definitions, then the ideological ties to government and marriage are removed, which leaves the issue of ‘gay marriage’ to be dealt with by society.

Government should simply provide anyone the opportunity to create legal contracts with whomever they wish to whatever degree they wish. “Want your ‘blood brother’ to be able to pull your plug while you’re in a coma? Fine! Just fill out the appropriate paperwork and it’s all taken care of.”

Gay Marriage is a social issue. The debate should have nothing to do with government.

joey May 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm

“All of the other issues you mention, including benefits, etc. can be fixed without redefining Marriage.”

False, the federal government does not recognize civil unions and therefore does not grant equal benefits (federally) to same-sex couples in civil unions.

Matthew Warner May 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Hence the words “can be fixed.”

joey May 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm

and how do you propose this change? and shouldnt the church support such a thing? it rallies against same-sex marriage but provides no alternative to protecting these couples.

Matthew Warner May 1, 2013 at 8:27 pm

What are you trying to protect “these couples” from specifically? Then we can talk about how to fix it…

Sara March 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Why does the government give tax breaks to the married? Because it’s in the government’s best interest to encourage children and future tax payers.

Allison H. March 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm

So why can’t gay couples receive these aforementioned benefits ~

“At the federal level, gay marriage means that gay couples would begin to receive the benefits that straight, married couples have including tax breaks, insurance breaks, medical decisions on behalf of partner, social security survivor benefits, sick leave to care for partner, visitation of partner in hospital, etc. (Plus hundreds more depending on the state.)”

~ without calling it “marriage?” Do they not get these benefits? Honest question here that I’ve wondered for a while and happen to have a cup of coffee and a quiet house at the moment!

Matthew Warner March 26, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Allison – I’d point you to my comment to Mark above for more. But that list of “benefits” are touted very commonly as things same-sex partnerships do not get. However, in many cases, it’s a bit of a stretch as there are ways to accomplish many of them (within existing laws/rules), but they just don’t happen the exact same way it happens for a married couple, etc. So much of that is an exaggeration. But some are legit, but they are perfect examples of how the government must make decisions about the common good. Married couples get tax breaks for unique reasons that are largely not the case with same-sex couples.

Additionally, I’m confused as to why any of these benefits or lack there of merit changing the definition of Marriage? All could be accomplished with civil unions, but you’ll notice nobody is calling for those anymore. This is about something much more than partner benefits.

MarkV April 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Allison & Matt, I apologize for coming so late to the conversation.

It is important to realize that “language” is not what conveys those rights. During the Civil Rights Movement (which homosexuals often cite in making their argument), not once did MLK or any one of the civil rights leaders ask to be called “white” or think that magically rights would be obtained by changing the definition of their racial makeup. Additionally MLK never said “equal at last, equal at last, thank God Almighty we are equal at last.” MLK fought for freedom!

Emma March 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

“We aren’t just messing with the prudence of some public policy here, folks. We are messing with the very entity that literally creates human beings! And in the process we are ignoring the right of every child to be born into and formed within the relationship of their actual mother and their actual father. Every child has that right (even though it’s not always possible). But anything less should not be treated equally (because it’s not).”

There is no question according to public policy what marriage is – and it has nothing to do with procreation, so the “messing with the very entity that literally creates human beings” argument is completely invalid. A marriage is not, and should not, be defined as a way to have and raise children. To even insinuate that perhaps a woman, born infertile, cannot have a child makes her marriage to a man less equal is deplorable. Or perhaps, it’s just a heterosexual couple who are very much in love, get married and choose not to have children. Their marriage should not be “unequal” because of some societal standard that defines what a nuclear family is.

Personally, I was raised by my step mother and my father. My biological mother passed away when I was young and I am so, so blessed that my step mother entered my life and helped raise me. Am I somehow unequal under the law because I was not raised by two biological parents? Is their marriage somehow unequal? Should my dad not have gotten remarried – should he have thrown in the towel and said “well I had my one shot at a legitimate marriage – too bad she died”? Your extremely narrow definition of marriage is offensive and honestly – wrong.

On the other end of the spectrum, my girlfriend (who I cannot wait to marry, by the way, and adopt and raise fantastic children with) was raised in a typical nuclear family. She has her fantastic mother and a father – who has left her emotionally scarred. In her own words, “my life would have been much easier had it just been my mother.” With him now out of her life, she breathes easier and she has been shaped into a fantastic, strong and incredibly intelligent woman thanks to her mother – and her mother alone. But, somehow, that marriage is somehow more valid than my parents – or shocking – a marriage between two men or two women?

Children are hurt by so many factors. Poverty, obesity, and abuse are only scratching the surface of what impacts them – and will continue to impact – generations of children. Every single credible study that has been done shows that two moms, two dads or even (shocker) a trans parent has no bearing on a child’s well being. Your attention would be better spent, perhaps, on fighting for more funding for domestic abuse shelters, where children can seek refuge from abusive parents (and since only about 120,000 gay marriages are recognized in the United States – let’s be honest here and say that the majority of those fleeing are from heterosexual parents).

This IS about equality. I am a proud lesbian. I am extremely intelligent, have a promising career, and cannot wait to raise my children with my future wife. The two of us, I am 100% sure, will have beautiful, smart, and well adjusted children because we will love them with all our hearts. Shockingly enough – gay people can love their children just as much as heterosexual people.

Matthew Warner March 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Emma – you are putting words into my mouth. But you’re making my point that before we can talk about equality we need to understand what we’re trying to offer equally. Clearly you have a very different definition of Marriage than what has been the understanding of the word for thousands of years. God bless you and I’m sorry for any misunderstanding.

Emma March 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

With all due respect, I don’t think I was putting any words in your mouth. Your statement “and in the process we are ignoring the right of every child to be born into and formed within the relationship of their actual mother and their actual father. Every child has that right (even though it’s not always possible). But anything less should not be treated equally (because it’s not).” is quite clear.

The United States government – which is what is in question when it comes to these Supreme Court Cases – has made it extremely clear what marriage is, and procreation is not a part of it. Beyond that, the constitution has a clear separation of church and state, so I’m assuming that your “thousands of years” comment has to do with a history of the religious institution of marriage.

Here’s what we’re trying to offer equally: the federal rights afforded to heterosexual couples that are not offered to homosexual couples, thanks to DOMA. DOMA rips over 1,000 rights away from homosexual couples. This is how the U.S. government has defined marriage, and that is what we’re trying to equalize.

I have yet to see ANY valid argument against marriage equality. Please provide any sort of study that shows negative effects on anyone else because of gay marriage.

Jeff V. March 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm


Compared with children raised by their married biological parents (IBF), children of homosexual parents (LM and GF):
Are much more likely to have received welfare (IBF 17%; LM 69%; GF 57%)
Have lower educational attainment
Report less safety and security in their family of origin
Report more ongoing “negative impact” from their family of origin
Are more likely to suffer from depression
Have been arrested more often
If they are female, have had more sexual partners–both male and female

Children of lesbian mothers:
Are more likely to be currently cohabiting
Are almost 4 times more likely to be currently on public assistance
Are less likely to be currently employed full-time
Are more than 3 times more likely to be unemployed
Are nearly 4 times more likely to identify as something other than entirely heterosexual
Are 3 times as likely to have had an affair while married or cohabiting
Are an astonishing 10 times more likely to have been “touched sexually by a parent or other adult caregiver.”
Are nearly 4 times as likely to have been “physically forced” to have sex against their will
Are more likely to have “attachment” problems related to the ability to depend on others
Use marijuana more frequently
Smoke more frequently
Watch TV for long periods more frequently
Have more often pled guilty to a non-minor offense

children are not commodities! March 28, 2013 at 3:15 am

If you accept the government’s definition of marriage–that “… procreation is not part of it”–and you agree that procreation is all about engendering and raising children, you would come to an inconvenient conclusion: your noble desire to raise children is extraneous to your union.
You desire “just” equality. Considering your said goal, is it just to expect the government to support the extraneous (legally read as “optional”) nature of your parenthood? Children of traditional marriages are intrinsic to those unions. It is justifiably reasonable to expect government support in those cases. That equality is unjust.
I’m not seeking here to instigate an argument. I am genuinely curious as to how an “extremely” intelligent person defends this position.
Thank you and I do pray your children will indeed be blessed by your example.

Emma March 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Jeff v:



As an “extremely intelligent” person I would like to point out the person who’s studied you cited (Mark Regnerus) has been discredited – actually he even discredited himself. He manipulated the study for the Supreme Court cases. So provide something actually credible.

Different parenting styles exist within heterosexual marriages. Single parents raise fantastic children. And how can anyone argue that children are intrinsic to marriage? So should women post menopause not get married? Infertile men and women should not get married?

Why are you using so much hate to defend a narrow definition of “love”?

Please explain to me how my marriage to a woman would impact you or anyone else.

Even Scott Portman, co-sponsor of DOMA, has realized the error of his ways.

It wasn’t too long ago interracial marriages were illegal. Explain to me the difference between allowing interracial marriages and gay marriages, without being extremely racist.

Jeff V. March 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm

The legality of interracial marriage has primarily to do with institutional racism, rather than the institution of marriage per se. From a Judeo-Christian perspective–indeed, from the perspective of nearly all world religions–interracial marriage is still between a man and a woman.

A more apt analogy is that of polygamy. Can you explain to me the difference between what you are advocating for and what polygamists want?

Sallie March 26, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Wow! Now I don’t have to write an almost identical article. I can move on to the next one. I am thankful to have found another kindered spirit. I will share this article and blog. Thank you!

Amy Gearner March 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Noun. The formal union of a man and a woman,k typically recognized by law, by whch they become husband and wife.

This is how it is defined in the dictionary. (leaving the bible out of it as a lot of people are trying to do)

Thanks for your post Matt..

Dominic M March 26, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Hey Matt buddy,
I surprisingly completely agree with your comments on equality. We will never be able to agree on equality with each other when we view the definition of marriage so differently, absolutely! My issue is however not with the Church. I believe that no homosexual realistically believes that the Church will ever waver it’s views. (due to it’s definition of marriage.) In the end, it is the government of the people and not God that will determine this final decision.

I am confused on your comments about “messing with the very entity that literally creates human beings!” As a gay man, the Church does not call me to conversion and ask me to reproduce. Unless you are stating that I am a harm to the human race by not reproducing, I am genuinely confused on what you are trying to say.

Also, your comments on the children of the future being hurt from this new age. I believe that an age of love, commitment, and caring for one another will be no more harmful than an African American earning an honest living in this country. I may just need a little clarification on why I would be so harmful to the children of the future?

Thank you though for the honest and open appeal though Matt. This is one of the most non-hate-filled statements I have seen.

Matthew Warner March 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Dominic – thanks for your thoughtful and honest comments!

First, you’ll notice I didn’t bring the Church into this at all (you did). But I agree with your point. But God has allowed many governments in the past to make a lot of bad decisions. And most of those governments are not around any more. That’s why it’s important that we’re thoughtful about it. So thank you for contributing to a thoughtful discussion.

To clear up your confusion – of course I’m not stating that you are a harm by not reproducing. It might help to put it this way: the lifelong relationship between a man and a woman that creates new human beings is a VERY different relationship than a same-sex couple who loves each other and wants to commit to each other. It’s apples and oranges. Creating new human life is not a trivial thing. it is literally why we’re all here. These two kinds of relationships should be called different things. When you malform the definition of Marriage to now include relationships that are not ordered toward that end, not only does it not makes semantic sense (the word starts to become meaningless) but it also has endless other implications regarding what the structure of the family should look like and what is healthy and good for every child.

And comparing same-sex marriage to slavery is an insult to slaves. I know you didn’t say it just like that or mean it that way, but it’s offensive that such an analogy has become so common (i’ve heard it a lot). Nobody is keeping anyone from loving anybody. Nobody is keeping anyone from living together or spending their lives together. It is a complete distraction when the rhetoric becomes about letting people “love each other.” Nobody is stopping anyone from loving anybody. And nobody is proposing anything that would stop anyone from loving anybody or being together.

What some of us ARE saying is that Marriage is something very different than a same-sex relationship. It impacts the common good in DRASTICALLY different ways. And that the implications of confusing the two are serious.

I love you brother. Nobody is calling you harmful. I do think, however, that calling same-sex relationships “marriages” and opening the door for normalizing their raising of children, etc. is very harmful on many levels…and to all involved.

Certainly an age of love and caring for each other would be wonderful. I’m 100% with you there and I hope we can find common ground there (and hopefully many other places) even when we may not agree on everything. There is absolutely no hate here (so thank you for recognizing that). Just concern for you, my family, our children and the common good. I pray we can all work through it and find a solution that is pleasing to God and that ultimately brings us all closer together. God bless you my friend.

Sir D March 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm

An FYI: The door is already open to gay couples adopting children. That’s permissible in some states today regardless of the issues currently being considered by the Supreme Court.

And food for thought: As you shape your opinions concerning children being raised by two loving homosexual parents, I’d argue that you shouldn’t start off by comparing two homosexual parents to the most perfect heterosexual nuclear family you can imagine. You should consider whether you think a committed, loving homosexual couple could provide a better upbringing for a child than an orphanage. Or whether homosexual parents might be preferable to being bounced from foster family to foster family throughout childhood.

Full disclosure: I’m a devout Christian who considers the government’s definition of marriage and my religious understanding of marriage to be two completely different things. And so, if the government decides to grant a gay couple a marriage certificate (and includes all of the legal and tax benefits that go with it), I have no issue with that. No priest or pastor will be required to perform a gay marriage in their church and so I don’t see that any religious persecution can have occurred.

Of course, if a religious denomination decides to perform gay marriage ceremonies, I’m okay with that, too. It’s a free country.

And my religion asks me to be a Christ-like example to those outside of the Church, and to understand that, meanwhile, the World will do its own thing.

Mary March 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Your argument is ridiculous and you give no examples of how having gay marriage legalized would actually hurt the children of the future that you’re so worried about protecting. Why would you want your children, and the children of the world, to grow up in a place that is plagued with close-minded people like you. To say that allowing marriage equality would hurt children of the future is an absurd claim. There is nothing detrimental to a child’s development if they are growing up in a home where their parents (straight,gay or lesbian) teach them about the necessity of compassion and acceptance of everyone around them.

Matthew Warner March 26, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I do believe that calling same-sex relationships “Marriages” would hurt a lot of people, now and in the future. However, that’s not the topic of this post. This post is about the necessity of understanding what we mean by “Marriage” before being able to talk about equality. Clearly you and I have different understandings of what Marriage is, so it makes it hard to discuss how to equally apply it to people.

However, there is nothing close-minded about anything I’ve said. So I’m not sure if you got the wrong impression or if that’s just a knee jerk insult you use on people that disagree with you. Also, I never said anything about not being compassionate or accepting people. But certainly you would agree that we shouldn’t teach people to accept harmful things as good, right? Now clearly you and I differ on what we think is harmful, but does it make me such a bad person for wanting to protect people from things that I believe are harmful to them and others? I would hope not. Further, you preach acceptance of everyone, but you aren’t being very accepting of me right now. So you seem to be contradicting yourself when you talk about teaching people to accept everyone around them?

Zain Zafar March 27, 2013 at 7:45 am

Please watch this video Matthew, kids raised by gay marriage are fine good people who can make their own judgments.

Matthew Warner March 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

More non-sequiters, straw men and false implications. It’s hard to talk about this issue without people completely missing what is being said and pretending you said something else.

Zain – nobody said kids raised by same-sex couples are not fine, good people. And actually, when they are babies, they are NOT able to make any judgments on their own. That’s one of the key points here. That’s why they should be protected and their natural rights preserved. That’s why society must protect the common good by holding up relationships and institutions that are good for people.

Mary March 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm

The thing is, allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would not hurt you. Allowing them to marry does not all of the sudden mean that straight couples could not marry. Therefore them asking for the same right you have is not taking anything away from you. You not allowing them to marry is taking away one of their fundamental rights as a HUMAN BEING.

Lisa Calderon March 27, 2013 at 5:01 am

Tell that to all the businesses who’s owners choose not to offer their service, for example, A Wedding Photographer, or a Wedding Cake Bakery, because their beliefs view same-sex relationship as being completely opposite from how God created us; and then they are sued and targeted by groups out of sheer hate merely for not accepting same sex relationships as being equal to Marital relationships.
Nature should be the starting point if we want to leave religion out of it. I don’t believe I care to leave religion out of the topic for as a Catholic the Church’s teachings and beliefs on marriage are completely in agreement with Nature (no duh, since Our Father created all of it). But just so you avoid one of the typical fall back meme of “don’t force your God on me” lines in various forms, I suggest this: Let’s start with nature:
When two women together or two men together create a child; then you can redefine what all of human history has call marriage! It’s not excluding infertile couples because that is a condition and far different from being with someone that by nature would extinct the species as the two can not ever NATURALLY create another life!
This is not hate or intolerance of gay people, it’s a simple fact, and truth is trying to be twisted and bent to the will of some to where speaking it is seen as hate, but that’s the thing about truth, it is the rock which does not shift with the tides.
Besides, anyone with an understanding of appellate court practice, yesterday’s argument wasn’t about same sex marriage…It was about standing, and who had or not had proper jurisdiction!

Kate May 3, 2013 at 9:59 am

Lisa, your point is what I have been thinking of as I read all of these comments. Homosexual couples (or as Mother Theresa called them, “children of God”) cannot create their own children. They must depend on heterosexuals to create a baby and put it up for adoption, or someone to donate an egg or sperm. I don’t care how loving of a person you are if you have no way to obtain a child you cannot be a loving parent. Birth rates decrease each year, infertility increased %500 from 2002-2012, abortions on the rise… Where are these babies of the future for homosexual couples going to come from? Another example of how babies and children are viewed as commodaties. You want to talk about equality lets talk about that equality of babies and children who are just as human as adults but can’t scream and demand equality for themselves.

Matthew Warner March 27, 2013 at 10:37 am

Who said it would mean straight couples can’t marry? I’m confused by your arguments. They make no sense. They are attacking things I never said.

And, actually, I do believe that if the government decides to hold up same-sex relationships as equal to traditional marriages it WILL be harmful to everyone, most especially children. Both psychologically and spiritually. And it WILL impose other restrictions on the rights of private citizens, orgs, businesses forcing us to treat unequal things as equal.

Further, how do you define what a “fundamental right as a human being” is? You make a bold claim, but I’d like to hear the logic behind it. Thanks!

Jabu March 27, 2013 at 3:16 am

You’re right about the fact that we need to define a basis (by assigning a definition to “marriage”) from which to debate this issue, however, I think this basis should not be from any other standpoint other than a legal one (the struggle might not be confined only to, as you’ve pointed out, pure legal recognition but recognition), but the greater good (read morality) should be purely philosophical and not derive from one particular perspective.

Matthew Warner March 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

Jabu – what you said sounds confusing. I’m not sure how the government can take into account the greater good philosophically without the government eventually deciding on a single perspective. That’s exactly what this debate is about. The government (all of us) picking a perspective…a particular one. And you can’t separate the legal standpoint from the philosophical one from all of our own perspectives. They all are based upon each other.

Sallie March 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

As a teacher I have witnessed good parenting and bad parenting. Here is an example of good and loving parenting –
A man, “Bob” took on the responsibility of caring for and loving his sister’s children (his sister was unable to care for herself). I could see in so many ways, how much those children were loved by Bob and his male partner. Those kids were full of joy and had a smile on their face most of the time, and when they didn’t they told you why. They showed compassion to the other children. No obstacle kept them from a love for learning.
Bob and his partner regularly volunteered in the classroom and were always very sensitive to the needs of all of the students. Bob regularly engaged in discussions about parenting and the developmental needs of his children.
Because of this experience and many more like it, I have discovered that the issue here is not about whether same sex marriage is right or wrong.
I see that we all want to feel appreciated and loved and to be acknowledged for who we truly are and not judged for how we act and/or for our appearance.
In our past we have judged unfairly, looked down on each other “different from us”. We do not take the time to really get to know the strangers among us, and to see that we are all worthy and connected to each other.
This debate is an invitation for us all to sit down with each other and find out how we are similar and engage in the materialization of love in this world.
I see a world where we don’t point fingers at each other’s sin. I see a world where we don’t have to prove our worthiness. I see a world where we encourage each other in love and know that we are all worthy.

Alpha Raccoon March 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Though it might not have much to do with the article, I believe it is a common misbelief that homosexual relationships are harmless.
During my first semester at college, I had a roommate who was homosexual. He knew I didn’t agree with it, but we still tried to be the best roommates we could. I played video games with him, I listened when he wanted to talk, I ran errands for him when he was sick, and so on. He treated me the same way. He even thanked me for being tolerant of him, while others were not.
One day after all classes were finished I walk back to our room to pick up a book I left. I enter the room while he and his boyfriend are there doing things. Both he and I were deeply embarrassed. As much as he was a great roommate, I couldn’t deal with another situation like this one. I went to find advice from the Student Life office, and he was moved to another dorm. Now we still see each other on occasion, but it’s still difficult for either of us to speak to one another.
This is sort of what type of difficulty can occur because of homosexuality. The purpose of boys dorms and girls dorms is to prevent temptation of sexual activity. With homosexuality involved, this is nullified, and embarrassments like this one can occur.
Once again, while the article is about marriage specifically, there is a great number of comments about the “harmlessness” of homosexuality, and I hope this story sheds some light on the subject.

Jane March 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Matt, I’ve come across another perspective and would like your thoughts – how does this work with heterosexual couples who marry and choose not to have children? If we are standing on the perspective of law, how are they similar/dissimilar to those who want their gay union to be called marriage?

Matthew Warner March 28, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Jane – in this case it is still in the best interest of society for the government to promote and encourage the marriage of the couple who do not intend to have kids. First, because there is a decent chance they will still end up having a kid (even though they may not intend to). And if/when that happens, the child will be rightly born into a more permanent relationship and committed natural mother and natural father. Second, even if, for instance, one of them is infertile or sterile, even still it is best for the couple to be in a more committed relationship that promotes faithfulness and monogamy…because if the non-sterile of the two was not faithful, it could result in children being born outside of that committed relationship.

Overall, from a basic common good perspective, it is good to promote permanent and committed relationships for any kind of union that may result in the creation of a child (just one reason why Christianity teaches that sex outside of Marriage is immoral).

And finally, the fact that some heterosexual couples don’t embrace (or are unable to embrace) the full fruits of Marriage, it doesn’t mean we should then dilute the definition of Marriage to include all shortcomings or distortions of it.

I’d also recommend the book, “What is Marriage” by Robert George (and a few other authors). Peace!

Sallie March 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Also, sex in a marriage encourages spiritual intimacy. If infertility and or impotency are a factor- spiritual intimacy is not necessarily compromised. There is literature on the subject. I hope you get the basic idea without all the details.

Phone dying….

Joe March 28, 2013 at 5:32 am

Matt, great breakdown and this is spot on man.

Tia March 28, 2013 at 5:47 am

This is what will happen: i.e consequences of gay marriage (which is an oxy moron it itself, as someone put it) Once the bill has been passed, the debate is over. That means you can no longer think or say that you disagree with it. Instead of having a clear debate, you will be shut up before you can even mention that you believe the best for the children is to be raised with their married mother and father. There will be imprisonment, persecution, name calling (it’s happening already) Like what happened in Germany. You might not see it now, and you might think that the children raised by gay parents are happy and loved. But there is major damage done to those children, because they are being deprived of their natural rights, i.e knowing their mother and father. What will you say, if the child one day asks his/her two mommies: Where is my dad? Once we go against our natural order and who we were made to be, it’s all downhill from there. Now you can call me a bigot, backward thinker, living in the stone ages etc….well actually, there is a reason why things are the way they are, and that is the truth. But truth is hard to handle, because it opens up a lot of wounds in people. We live in a broken world where many come from broken families, husbands have left their wives, children are hurt. Let’s begin by healing the natural family, not changing it. Let children be raised with their mother and father.

Sean McGaughey March 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Matthew, I have long admired your ability to unpack complex ideas simply, without oversimplifying or trivializing. And the respect on the discourse in the comments here is admirable.

Matthew Warner March 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Thanks, Sean! I really appreciate that. Thanks for all you do!

Sallie March 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I agree w Sean. Thank you Mathew for your dedication to this blog and its use to promote sound logic and reason.

Sir D March 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” — 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (NIV)

Just like all of fallen humanity, Christians, despite having the help of the Holy Spirit, have a tough time practicing introspection. We inevitably harbor unrepentant sin in our hearts throughout our lives; and carry this baggage to our graves. But we remain remarkably oblivious to it. And are often all too eager to police the unrepentant sins of others.

Christ speaks to this propensity in all of us when teaching us to remove the log from our own eyes before attempting to remove the speck from someone else’s.

But there’s something about living in a representative democracy that causes some American evangelicals to ignore this teaching of Jesus’s, as well as others akin to it – like 1 Corinthians 5-12-13 above.

We give into the temptation to become pharisaic police of those outside the Church. And we defend this behavior by saying we’re really “loving” sinners by refusing to approve of their sins.

But I don’t see that Jesus ever set that sort of example for us. He expressed love to non-believers and preached His Gospel to them without condemning them with a check list of things He disapproved of in their lives.

And He did so in a land subject to an immoral, pagan government (Rome), without ever lifting a finger to affect that government’s laws.

He worked to change hearts from the inside. Not to force moral behaviors from the outside.

Matthew Warner March 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Sir – I think you’re missing the point. Protecting the definition of Marriage is not at all about forcing moral behaviors from the outside. Nobody is trying to stop same-sex relationships from happening. And it certainly not passing judgment (the kind implied in Corinthians) on those outside the Church.

Protecting Marriage from a government standpoint is, primarily, trying to protect children. and second, creating an environment of stable of just society that is more conducive to real conversion (changing hearts on the inside). But we have an obligation to maintain a government that works for the common good. We have to do both. I’ve heard too many people cop out on any kind of public responsibility for the common good and have over-simplified their faith into something that is solely private, having nothing to do with other people or society as a whole.

Sir D March 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Sadly, fundamentalist Christians used the protecting of children as their excuse for opposing interracial marriage back in the 1960’s. And, like today, they referred to some isolated research, not backed up by broader findings of sociologists, that they thought supported their opinions. I think you should be weary of following their example.

Marcotte April 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Whew, where do I even start with this one? I suppose as a citizen I will say that I must follow the Law of the Land and that I am NOT above the Law, but rather I am confined to the Law. Within this system I am supposedly treated as an equal with certain rights protected by the government and certain punishments (by the same government) if I do not follow the law. These rights as stated by the constitution is handed to me by the Creator and not by anyone individual, any government or any other group. So now to defend the Rights I must concede that I am Created by a Creator. Since I am a Creation I must now decide what to do with myself. If I misjudge and act in any way that is not within the confines of the Law I risk punishment. I retain my freedom to do anything outside of the Law but I also am held responsible to the Law. And yes, Ignorance is no excuse for the Law. In other words, even if I didn’t know the action was against the Law I can still be punished and am still held responsible for my action.

So as a man, I am confined to being Married to my wife by Law. I cannot marry several women and I cannot marry an object and I cannot marry anyother part of creation, i.e. a tree, a pet, or a waterfall. Naturally, I can say that I love my pet, I love a tree in my yard and I love a waterfall and furthermore I will be sad if my pet dies, my tree is blown over by the weather and that waterfall runs dry. I can also say that I love my car and would be sad if I wrecked it and also I love other people as a friends and family and would also be sad if I were to lose them. So somehow, very clearly, my marrital love is different from other loves in my life. I have been given a definition since childhood on what marrital love is and that if I were to get married I should try to marry the one with whom I share this Love. This love is based on physical, emotional and spiritual connection and properties with the Creator. It is NOT equal to any other act by any other couple and is NOT equal to any other love that I share with anyone else. And to call it equal or a right is to say that there is no Creator and nothing unique or special about it.
The simple end to this argument is that someone is arguing about a right handed down by a Creator but does not want to define the nature of Creation.

dancingcrane June 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Thanks, Matthew! Spot on analysis and very charitable commentary. I love the way you write. We must get back to what marriage is. We deformed Marriage by accepting that sex can take place without it, with or without children. Then we deformed it again, by finding ways to eliminate children, or by making the happiness of adults trump the needs of children. It is a sad irony, that now that society has taken sex and children out of it, that we must give the shell of what’s left to those for whom real sex and real children are a completely physical impossibility. Eventually, our govt will end up creating, supporting and subsidizing another protected class of people, who are willing (even if it turns out they’re unable to) to form unions for the procreation and raising of new citizens, a matter of great interest to our govt. I wonder what we’ll call that?

Collin June 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

The question of marriage equality is not about the religious or otherwise definition of marriage, it is about the legal definition of marriage and the benefits that come with it.

dancingcrane June 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

It seems clear to me, that marriage specific gov’t benefits are given precisely to encourage and subsidize the remaining together of an intact procreative union, so that children are born and raised in a stable environment by their own male/female biological progenitors.The govt has long given those benefits also, to those who are presumed to intend such a union, even if death, medical conditions or other obstacles prevent it. Widow(ers) and the divorced who remarry, and childless man/woman pairs who adopt, are still trying to give the children involved what they need; a father/mother pair. Sadly enough, it used to be that even alimony laws and aid to single mothers or fathers was originally intended as a substitute for the missing pair member, on the assumption that they would eventually remarry and be an intact male-female pair bond again. I say sadly, because society has largely lost any awareness that this is the ideal, but now views it as a disposable option.

To deliberately give these benefits to those who will not form a stable male-female bond, and who cannot procreate children, eliminates the very reason such benefits were given in the first place.

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