“MARRIAGE”—THE WORD

IS THE MOON A SUN? I overheard the Moon and the Sun having a rather contentious conversation. The Moon was saying he was as good as the Sun. In fact he was angry with those that kept saying how wonderful the Sun was, how bright, how essential to life. He demanded the same respect.

The Sun, trying to be diplomatic but still realistic, replied: “No oneThe_Sun_by_the_Atmospheric_Imaging_Assembly_of_NASA's_Solar_Dynamics_Observatory_-_20100819 is saying you aren’t bright and beautiful. You are an impressive satellite circling around the earth. But to be a sun you have to be a shining star.”

The Moon pouted and said, “You’re wrong! I can be a sun too. Just because bigoted people think we’re different, just because they labeled me a ‘moon’ and you a ‘sun’ doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same respect you get.”

The Sun, somewhat surprised, responded, “But dear Moon, as a sun I create energy, give off light, make life possible. That’s what suns do. You simply can’t do that. You can’t create energy. You can only reflect the light created by a sun. All moonlight is reflected sunlight.”

“That’s just more of your prejudice, Sun. I demand that you call me a ‘Sun’, just like you. I refuse to be a second class heavenly body any longer!”

“Would it be O.K., Moon, if we created some term that would be acceptable other than ‘sun’ because ‘sun’ has an age-old meaning that just doesn’t describe you. There are some pretty fundamental differences.”

Full_moon_jpegNow the Moon got really angry. “You know, Sun, there are laws against hate speech. Your refusing to acknowledge that I am no different than you is just based on your irrational prejudice. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll get the U.N. or some government to pass a law that says ‘All bright heavenly objects are suns,’ and then I’ll be legally recognized as a sun. I can do it, you know. All I have to do is threaten to call them “Intolerant” and they will do anything I ask.”

“Maybe so,” replied the Sun, “but you still can’t produce light.”

MALES AND FEMALES MAKE FAMILIES: A family begins when a male sperm merges with a female egg. There is no other way! When male and female gametes merge a baby can be born. There is no other way! It is true children can be abandoned, shuffled around, adopted, adults can live together in any number of combinations, laws and regulations may expand, contract, redefine. But only a male sperm merging with a female egg can create a human.

FAMILIES ARE NOT CREATED BY GOVERNMENTS: Families existed before governments, before countries, before civilization. They will exist long after all governments that now exist have faded into the forgotten past. One hopes that when a male and female unite to create life that every worthy and noble instinct will come into play to provide for, nurture and protect the children of that union. Human babies must be cared for. That is done far better by a family than by any other institution. No human lived to puberty without at least basic physical care provided by others for many years. Human folly and sometimes unavoidable tragedy—physical or emotional— may require that other than the natural parents step in and provide that essential care. Fortunately, adults other than DNA parents can love and care for children when natural parents are unwilling or unable to fulfill what, to most of us, seems the most basic, normal parental roles. They can, in the best way, provide a family. How fortunate that so many are so caring.

THE WORD: We live at a time when many want to use the words for “marriage” and “family” to describe other relationships. A most extreme example is Mafia murderers describing their criminal combinations as “families.” They hope to impart some acceptability, some legitimacy, to a relationship that, in fact, is destructive of families. Like the Moon’s demands, it is not unusual for those seeking legitimacy to hijack words, words imbued with the greatest respect, and to change their meaning in the hopes that by changing the definition of the word they can change our perception of reality. We cannot expect our legislatures and courts to prevent it.  But redefining a word, whether done by legislatures, courts, voters or tyrants, cannot change the most significant, core, reality of all human existence: every human exists because of the union of a male and female. “Marriage”, at best protected by tradition, law and the finest human instincts, is the most essential of all relationships—the one that produces humans. It deserves, at least, a word of its own.

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2 Responses to “MARRIAGE”—THE WORD

  1. Daniel says:

    Ignoring the heavenly analogy (which would play better rhetorically if we had not had the revocation of Pluto’s planetary status so recently), your argument seems to be that the sole necessary and sufficient condition for a union between two people to be recognized as a “marriage” is reproductive viability. As noted by about every court that’s looked at this argument however, this can’t be right from a denotative sense as “marriage” is commonly used to describe unions without reproductive viability (e.g., sterile couples, post-reproductive age couples, etc.). Unless we are to invalidate such unions as not being “true” marriages, there must be something else that makes a union between two (or more) individuals a “marriage,” and the inability to produce a satisfactory criterion that both (a) delineates male/female pairings from male/male or female/female pairings and (b) does so by reference to an objective characteristic (akin to reproductive viability) as opposed to a social construction not universally agreed upon is a notable weakness in this standard “traditional marriage” argument. Yes, a child can only come from the union of a sperm and an egg, but the chain of logic connecting that biological event with the current social discourse is not one I think you’ve satisfactorily laid out.

    • John Evans says:

      You are correct, courts correctly note that people can be “married” without reproductive capacity. Many older people are very happily married well after child bearing years. The purpose of the blog is not to detract from such “marriages.” The point is to remind everyone that regardless of legal, cultural, religious, or any other conception of what a marriage is or should be, humans are only born from a heterosexual union. It is a fact that is rarely mentioned in the debate. All living things reproduce. It is a characteristic of life. Babies do better when raised by their biological parents in a loving, committed relationship. Those are not deductions, they are axioms of life. The moon isn’t a sun, even if the difference is not “universally agreed upon.”

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