Friday, December 26, 2008

Are Families Measured in Family Units?


Are Families Measured in Family Units?    

By Euripedes at Self Evident Truths

     The institutions of marriage and families are under attack. This has been going on in front of our backs for some time now. The recent votes and protests over the definition of marriage exemplify the continued debasement of these institutions. The idea of gay marriage is merely another step in the attack on marriage and families. The idea of gay marriage may, however, portend the end of the institution of marriage and the death of the family. It certainly didn't start their destruction.

     I've been looking at and thinking about the arguments surrounding marriage amendments for many months now. One of the arguments I frequently encountered by those in favor of gay marriage was: "How does what two individuals do in he privacy of their own home affect you?" While it may not effect me personally, and most probably wouldn't, it does effect the institution of marriage, which in turn effects the institution of the family.

     The idea of gay marriage doesn't seem to damage traditional marriage if marriage were a private matter instead of a public institution. But long before the discussion of gay marriage, much of the damage to the institution has already been done. Consider the myriad other attacks on the institutions of marriage and of the family: rampant divorce (including "no fault" divorce where couples can stop being married just because they don't want to be); the de facto acceptance of abortion as a legitimate means of birth control; the woman's right to choose (to kill an unwanted child); the decriminalization and acceptance of gay sex; rampant pornography; increased child neglect and abuse; increased spouse abuse; the increase and general acceptance of single parent families; the increased welfare state "helping" single mothers stay single and living in poverty; the lack of responsibility of fathers to financially support the family; unfair divorce settlement practices; child custody battles where parents use their children as weapons against each other; the rise in teen pregnancies; a general rise and acceptance of sexual promiscuity outside of marriage; the acceptance of living together as an alternative to marriage; the general disdain of marriage as expressed in popular culture; and the list goes on.

     Which brings us to the term "family unit" instead of family. The term was coined not too long ago to express the myriad ways families are now defined, including every combination of people, but rarely meaning a family with a mother, father and children. We've come to accept the term "family unit" because we as a nation have so successfully fractured the core family that we no longer see any other form of the family as unusual. I even hear the term over the pulpit in church.

     A case in point is the fairly innocuous Disney movie Lilo and Stitch. Lilo is an orphan girl, raised by her sister. Along comes Stitch, a cute space alien designed as a weapon to wreck havoc on civilization. The two get together, both learn to "behave" so to speak, but the gist of the movie is that, by the mere fact that Lilo and Stitch care for each other and accept each other they become family. Well, a family unit at least. (Now I am not knocking the movie, it is one of my favorites and is quite funny. I use it here to show how generally accepted the idea of the family unit is in our society.)

    What's happened here is that the institution of marriage and the institution of the family has been redefined from a public to a private concern. As a private concern, it no longer holds the importance or the "sanctity" of public value. As a private concern, anyone can claim anything they want to as a marriage or family because that is a "private" matter, not subject to government or societal interference.

The Problems
     The problem arises because marriage and family as private concerns could eventually have no public relationship. (Well, except for being reduced to an economic value in tax breaks and access to health care.) Without public constraints, the institutions become meaningless. Children, who used to enjoy the protection of the institution of a family, more and more are raised by a family unit and more often by a single parent.

      The other problem is the propagation of a culture with no regard for the institutions of marriage and family. Children raised with divorced parents come to view divorce as a normal and regular part of marriage. Children whose mother is single and working to eke out a living grow up at the edge of poverty, often raised by surrogate parents in day care centers. Children are exposed to pornography or sexual relationships far too early in their developmental period. Children of gay couples grow up with the understanding that "anything goes" in a relationship, even if the actions were once deemed illegal. Many grow up without the basic moral backgrounds of religion, since, for example, Christianity is antithetical to the degradation of marriage and families.

      If this is the current state of the family and marriage, then what possible further harm can come to it by legalizing gay marriage? Frankly, I don't know what else could come along that already hasn't destroyed the institution.

The Solution?
     So what's the solution? Holding ground on an ever increasing slippery slope in favor of the institutions of marriage and family. Passing constitutional amendments defining marriage in every state or on the federal level. Getting rid of no fault divorces. Realizing that pornography is not a free speech issue and making it illegal. And on and on and on.

     We've already lost a lot of ground on the institutions of marriage and family. Does gay marriage signal the death knell?

Original post here


  1. Excellent write up. I agree with what you are saying.

    Legal recognition of same-sex marriage threatens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Those who disagree with same-sex unions, including educators, doctors and adoption agencies, are already being treated with contempt and intolerance by proponents of same-sex marriage. The next target is surely the tax-exempt status which churches enjoy because of their important service to society.

  2. What? Why is that the next step? I don't know about in America, but in England a higher proportion of the gay popluation attends church than the proportion in the straight community.

  3. It is just speculation on future events.

    Do more gay people attend church than straight? I have no idea myself. Do you have any evidence to support your idea?

  4. I say the next proposition should be a nation - nay world-wide ban on heterosexual divorce - since that is what I view as the biggest threat to marriage.

    After all, it's the same language used in Prop 8, only switching out the same-sex marriage wording for heterosexual divorce. Come on - you said, "rampant divorce (including "no fault" divorce where couples can stop being married just because they don't want to be)" was first thing listed in the "myriad other attacks on the institutions of marriage and of the family"

    So, would all of you folks who were pro Prop 8 also be in favor of making heterosexual divorce illegal? I'm just curious.

  5. Allowing divorce has attempted to change the meaning of marriage. I see marriage as a life long covenant where the spouses give themselves totally to each other for the rest of their lives.

    Allowing divorce changes that meaning. The spouses don't necessarily give their present and future selves to each other. Instead they are in relationship for as long as only one of them wants to be. It becomes more of a contract than a covenant.

    I think they should be allowed to separate but not re-marry. That's only if the original marriage was a real marriage to start with.

  6. So you're saying that no, you would not approve of legislation making heterosexual divorce illegal?

    Side note - funny that I, as a gay man, see marriage exactly as you do =) and my 13 year relationship has outlasted the 3 marriages that my two sisters have had between them - yet, I'm the one unworthy of marriage because that would be destroying the sanctity of it?

    Go figure *shrug*

    I like that....."real marriage".

  7. Everyone has choices. Your sisters' decisions do not change the definition of marriage.

    I don't think divorce should be made illegal, but I think there needs to be more preparation for marriage. People themselves should be speaking about these issues. Divorce causes a lot of problems for society.

  8. It's interesting that the re-definition of words leads directly into the re-definition of values. This article really hits the nail on the head.


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