How we as a society define marriage is a controversial issue in today’s day and age. However, while whole movements exist defending one definition or another the problem is even more fundamental than that. Proponents of traditional marriage (between one man and one woman) for example assert that we must adhere to this definition as a society and by how the state approaches marriage in order to preserve and defend marriage. However, we should be asking ourselves: what are we “preserving” exactly? Divorce, infidelity, single-parent homes and domestic abuse all run rampant in America today. Is that what we’re trying so hard to defend? Will a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman change any of that? No, it will not.
Fellow Franciscan student Kevin LeRoy who is much smarter than I am addresses the crux of this issue on his blog, Psychenomics.
While defining our terms is important and necessary it is insufficient. We cannot “preserve” the integrity of marriage – our society has already compromised it. Instead, our goal should be to restore it. We must shed ourselves of the maxim of the sexual revolution that what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom. As social beings we all have a stake in the marriages of those around us. Furthermore, we must be the change in society we want to see. Only through a cultural paradigm shift can society regain a sense of sanctity and respect for marriage and, thus, for each other.
Simply stated, the laws follow society. Bitter legal battles aiming to coerce society into recognizing one definition of marriage or another accomplishes little. Americans will still seek no-fault divorce, cohabitate, contracept and otherwise behave in self-destructive ways that undermine their relationships. If we are to see more healthy marriages and whole, functioning families in the United States then society must choose it freely and that starts with individuals and communities standing up and taking action. The law can’t make people love each other.