Like the Women I See on their 30th Anniversaries

Has anyone else ever noticed that those who oppose gay marriage in an effort to supposedly “defend” marriage usually end up demeaning and cheapening marriage? To prevent gay couples from marrying, they have to create a definition of marriage that excludes same sex couples and justify that exclusive definition. In the process, I’ve noticed a tendency to make marriage sound very shallow.

For example, how many times have you heard someone say that marriage is for procreation? They don’t mean sex, because gay couples have sex, they mean birthing children. Really? So you two got married because you wanted to create offspring? That’s the reason? Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a very noble thing to have children, but if that is the only reason for marriage, then why don’t we arrange marriages or treat them like business arrangements? Can you imagine? “Your a good looking person, let’s get married and have children because I bet we’d have good children.” In fact, why even have sex? Let’s just use invitro technology. Since that’s the purpose of marriage after all- it’s just to get pregnant.

Here’s another example. Marriage is between a man and a woman because that’s what’s good for society. Really? You two got married because you thought it would improve society. How selfless! (cough, and arrogant). Ok then, let’s revert back to the time when that was correct. It will be good for society if these two political families are united. Let’s make their kids marry each other. You know what? I want my posterity to inherit a lot of property. They’d do good things with it- they’d give generously to charity. I’ll have my daughter marry a Huntsman.

I’m sorry, but when you’re at a fancy dinner celebrating someone’s 30th wedding anniversary, you’re not talking about how good their marriage is for society or how wonderful it was that they were able to conceive lots of children. You don’t talk about how great it was that they obeyed their mission president and got married to fulfil the commandments. Why? Because that’s not what marriage really is. If that was marriage, then marriage is cheap, and frankly it ought to be destroyed.

What do you talk about at the anniversary? You talk about their love. You talk about their relationship. You talk about the vows they made to each other. You talk about how remarkable and admirable it is that they’ve been faithful to their vows. You talk about the children they’ve raised and the accomplishments of those children. You make a joke about what they can do now their children are out of the house. Wink wink. Because that’s what marriage really is. That’s the stuff of substance–of value. And because you know that you can’t in good concious deny that to gay couples–because you know they are capable of having all that stuff of substance, you have to take it out of marriage to exclude them, and that is not defending marriage. It is demeaning it.

For the Mormons, the sin is twice as bad. They have two additional things of substance to add to the definition of marriage, and to take it away from their definition so they can exclude gay couples is shameful. For the Latter-day Saint, marriage is also about beautiful covenants and a supposedly infinite, awesome power to seal that has been given to man by God. There is no reason gay couples can’t make the same covenants, nor is there a reason that the sealing power couldn’t be extended to them. It’s what makes families formed by adoption in the Church every bit as significant as those formed through sexual conception. In theory it really is beautiful. To say that two men can’t be sealed by that power is to limit and to therefore demean that power. To say that marriage isn’t about covenants and sealing power, for a Latter-day Saint, is really to not understand marriage, and that demeans it.

How much better off would the institution of marriage be if the evangelical were to proclaim, “Marriage is about companionship and family. I love my wife. She is the world to me, and I can’t imagine a world without her. Likewise I love the children we’ve raised. They’re good kids. I’ve learned more from them than they’ve learned from me. That’s why I support gay marriage. I want everyone who can find it to experience this love, this commitment, this family, this marriage.”? How much better off would the institution of marriage be if the Mormon were to declare, “I married my wife because I love her and because I want to be with her forever. We’ve taught our children to make covenants and be faithful to them because we know that the companionship, dedication, and love that we learn in families make us closer to and more like God. That’s why we support gay marriage. We want everyone who can find someone to love to be able to become like God through the sacrifices and blessings of marriage and parenthood. We don’t think that man was meant to be alone, and we believe that man should have joy. Marriage has brought us joy, and we believe it can bring them joy too.”?

I hope the world where I can hear those proclamations is not too far away.

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