Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.
The laws concerning marriage did not create marriage, they merely attempted to solve problems in such areas as inheritance, property, paternity, divorce, adoption and so on.
If the government passed a law declaring that grey was now green, and asphalt was specifically designated as a botanical organism, would that make all our streets into "greenery" and all our parking lots into "parks"?
If a court declared that from now on, "blind" and "sighted" would be synonyms, would that mean that it would be safe for blind people to drive cars?
No matter how sexually attracted a man might be toward other men, or a woman toward other women, and no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman.
This is a permanent fact of nature.
(In another column I will talk seriously and candidly about the state of scientific research on the causes of homosexuality, and the reasons why homosexuality persists even though it does not provide a reproductive advantage.)
There is no natural method by which two males or two females can create offspring in which both partners contribute genetically. This is not subject to legislation, let alone fashionable opinion.
Human beings are part of a long mammalian tradition of heterosexuality. No parthenogenic test tube procedure can alter what we, by nature, are. No surgery, no hormone injections, can change X to Y or make the distinction nonexistent.
That a few individuals suffer from tragic genetic mixups does not affect the differences between genetically distinct males and females.
That many individuals suffer from sex-role dysfunctions does not change the fact that only heterosexual mating can result in families where a father and a mother collaborate in rearing children that share a genetic contribution from both parents.
Married people are doing something that is very, very hard to combine the lives of a male and female, with all their physical and personality differences, into a stable relationship that persists across time.
When they are able to create children together, married people then provide the role models for those children to learn how to become a man or a woman, and what to expect of their spouse when they themselves marry.
When a heterosexual couple cannot have children, their faithful marriage still affirms, in the eyes of other people's children, the universality of the pattern of marriage.
When a heterosexual couple adopts children who are not their genetic offspring, they affirm the pattern of marriage and generously confer its blessings on children who might otherwise have been deprived of its benefits.
Some marriages are better than others; some fail utterly because of the malfeasance of one or both of the partners.
That only makes it all the more vital that the whole society combine to help husbands and wives succeed at marriage.
We need the same public protection of marriage that we have of property. If we did not all agree that people continue to own things that are not in their immediate possession, then you could not reasonably expect to come home and find your house unoccupied.
We agree, by law, to make it a crime to take what belongs to others even when you need it more than they do. Every aspect of our lives is affected by this, and not for a moment could a society exist that did not protect the right of property.
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