Saturday, July 28, 2012

I Support Marriage

I support traditional marriage. I support the idea of a man and a woman getting married, starting a family, and raising that family as integral parts of the community. I think this is a very good institution that needs to be protected, encouraged, and supported.

I also support non-traditional marriage. I support two divorcees who remarry to raise their blended family, Brady Bunch style. I support people who marry someone from a different race. I support people who marry and don't have children. I support people who marry and can't have children. I support same-sex marriage.

Let's keep it simple. I support marriage. Relationships are hard. Marriage is even harder, but the benefits, for both yourself and society, are worth it. That's why I write my Relationship Corner articles. I want relationships to succeed and believe society is better for it when they do. Be they traditional or non-traditional, marriage is good.

Now, there are some couples I would advise against marring, not because they have the "wrong kind" of marriage, but because a marriage between those two would be a bad idea. (We've all met one of those couples.) However, while some unions might be ill-advised, I wouldn't try to make it illegal for them to marry.

If there's one type of marriage I do want illegal, it's the type that does not involve consenting adults. Marriages in which a young girl is forced to marry a much older man are sadly all-to-common around the world, and are also considered "traditional." Marriages in which woman are little more than property are still all too common. They are also seen as "traditional." I would be more than happy to see the definition of marriage to change to not include these types of "traditional" marriages.

If you guessed I'm bringing this up to talk about Chick-fil-A, you're right. What I want to talk about is why people are really upset over its CEO Dan Cathy's statement that he supports "the biblical definition of the family unit." In case you didn't know, Chick-fil-A is a Christian owned restaurant chain that specializes in chicken sandwiches, nuggets, and various other delicious variations of chicken. It is also closed on Sundays, meaning that Christians who want to eat there after church are out of luck.

Which is why some churches have Saturday services

Now, why is that such a big deal? He's a Christian, and many Christians hold the view that marriage should be one man and one woman. This isn't news and it wasn't a secret. Is this just election-year politics invading our chicken establishments? It's entirely possible. Are people outraged that someone will admit to a traditional view on marriage? Given that you can be attacked for expressing any opinion whatsoever, that's not a stretch. But is there an even larger reason for the sudden Chick-fil-A backlash?

I would argue that a big part of the controversy is all the money that Chick-fil-A donated to groups who not only advocate against same-sex marriage, but also take specific actions to make sure it doesn't happen. That, I think, is the bigger issue. It's not that Dan Cathy has an opinion, it's that he's using money from his business to legislate that opinion onto people who don't share it.

It's one thing to say "I believe in traditional marriage and I will argue for it until my dying day." That's a position I can respect. The words of Voltaire still ring true, ""I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." We are all entitled to our opinions and perspectives. It's what makes our nation great, and if you don't like an idea, you are free to counter with your own.

However, when you say "I believe in traditional marriage and support efforts to prevent people from having marriages that don't fit my definition," then we have a problem. Then it's not your opinion we object to, it's your actions. Now you want to legislate your opinion on the rest of us, you want to force people who don't share your perspective to live by your rules.

In other words, it's not that you support chicken sandwiches. It's that you want to outlaw Burger King.

Now, you might be reading this and have a whole set of arguments ready about why gay marriage is bad for society. And you are entitled to hold that opinion and make those arguments. But that's your opinion. Your right to an opinion ends when someone else's life begins. When you transition from "I disagree with your lifestyle" to "I will impose my will on your lifestyle," people are going to object.

That's why so many people are upset at Chick-fil-A and CEO Dan Cathy. He's not just expressing an opinion, he's spending money to impose his will and hurt people they care about. His actions aid efforts to restrict the ability for a same-sex couple to marry. It's no longer just an unpopular opinion, it is unpopular actions that affect people who don't share his opinion. While some are criticizing him for what he believes, others are criticizing him for his actions. That's why they aren't letting this go, and that's why they aren't eating at Chick-fil-A.

I've written before about how we Christians can live with gay marriage. I still stand by my assertions, that you can object to the idea of same-sex relationships while learning to live with it, if not grudgingly accept it. I also want to add that you can still support the traditional idea of marriage without restricting the ability of people to marry non-traditionally. After all, the word "support" can mean "encourage this particular behavior" and doesn't have to mean "prevent others from doing it differently."

I support marriage and I always will. If it's a good, healthy, productive marriage, I support it. If it's traditional or nontraditional, I support it. And if you believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but you accept the reality that others might not share that view and are willing to let them make their own choices, then I support you too.

 More of my Musings

1 comment:

  1. I like your essay. I especially love your attitude of inclusiveness. Just lovely.