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 one 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.”
Now 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.