Sunday, February 29, 2004
What is marriage for?
An excellent op-ed in the Times on the disconnect between conservative cries that legalized same-sex marriage will destroy civilization as we know it and liberal appeals to one's civil right to do whatever one pleases, never mind the consequences. The solution?
For a productive dialogue, we should be asking the question this way: is giving gays the right to marry good for society? And to answer that, we must ask what larger social purpose marriage serves.
The main reason marriage is considered good for society is that committed relationships help settle individuals into stable homes and families. Marriage does this by establishing collective rules of conduct that strengthen obligations to a spouse and often to children.
This is why the word itself is so important. The power of "marriage" lies in its symbolic authority to reinforce monogamy and stability when temptation calls. The hope is that, having taken vows before family and friends, people will think twice before breaking them. It is this shared meaning of marriage that is central to the success of so many individual unions.
("Joining the debate but missing the point," Nathaniel Frank, New York Times 2.29.04, reg req'd)
Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 29 February 2004 at 3:41 PM