An Alternative to Redefining Marriage

This is a rough sketch of a compromise that has the potential, I think, to satisfy everyone. The idea is to invent a type of union between persons that has no sexual connotations, allowing marriage to be a separate phenomenon altogether that is left entirely to churches.

People often talk carelessly about marriage without distinguishing civil marriages from religious ones, a mistake frequently made on these very forums. The distinction is important because it reflects a deeper incongruity within civil marriage: we give people special privileges and financial benefits provided that they “love each other” and that they will presumably procreate, at least in the typical case. In other words, privileges that a priori have nothing to do with sex are arbitrarily entangled with sexual prerequisites, and this creates needless tension between civil and religious conceptions of marriage.

Since the privileges of civil marriage serve a pragmatic end, what would it look like if we reduced it to only its most essential parts? Take, for example, the privilege of being able to share one’s insurance with another. Is the sexual prerequisite necessary in this case? Indeed, should I even have to love the person with whom I’m sharing insurance? This seems like a useful feature that is independent of any romantic connotations.

Consider all such privileges of civil marriage that would be beneficial to society regardless of romance. Now imagine that we invented a type of partnership in which the only prerequisites are whatever is necessary for those privileges to be endowed on the partners in question. This form of partnership would necessarily be weaker than marriage itself, since it only contains a subset of the benefits. It wouldn’t be “redefining” marriage at all, which is an accusation often levied against alternatives such as gay marriage. This is because, once again, this form of partnership is entirely disconnected from the prerequisites of marriage. It doesn’t require nor encourage sex, so it doesn’t condone fornication of any sort. You can’t attach any sexual sin to it because it simply has nothing to do with sex. For example, there is no obvious reason why siblings shouldn’t be allowed to establish these partnerships, and any accusation that this would promote incest would be absurd.

So my question to Christians is: How does this alternative strike you? Is it better than redefining marriage to extend it to gay partners?

I think this alternative is well-thought out and would be a good compromise if either side would settle for an alternative, but neither side wants one. (I’m referring to the extremists on both sides of the issue.)

IMO neither this nor any other alternative will satisfy either side, because proponents of gay marriage want “marriage” equal to that of traditional marriage, they don’t want “partnerships” or “unions” by any other name. They want their lifestyle to be recognized and condoned by law and society and nothing less.

Similarly, folks who are against gay marriage (and homosexuality in particular) will never settle for anything other than “get back in the closet and stay there”.

This is a fine idea…but…

Why would the state want to do such a thing.

They have historically been in the marriage industry because families are important for raising a healthy and productive next generation. Also population growth is essential to maintaining a thriving state.

So that’s why the state is involved.

I could see them stepping out but not creating a new program like this.

Likely if civil marriage becomes weaker, the state will just abandon it for all practical purposes. Then years later put out benefits for whatever it is that helps grow the nation.

This is true, and in some respects what I am proposing is even more ambitious that what gay marriage advocates seek. I have no doubt that this notion of a secular, non-sexual partnership will develop very gradually, though it may not be advertised as such when it emerges.

Still, I do wish that secularists would have fought for this alternative from the outset rather than further muddying the waters with different “types” of marriage. The gay marriage advocates may “win” faster with their current strategy, but this would solve more problems at once.

I think you answer your own question here:

Likely if civil marriage becomes weaker, the state will just abandon it for all practical purposes. Then years later put out benefits for whatever it is that helps grow the nation.

The benefits you speak of–that is, the ones that do not require romance–are the very sort that the partnerships I’m proposing would enable. Allowing people to share their assets to increase their own financial stability is valuable to society in itself, regardless of sex.

Another thing that Christians should consider regarding the inevitable question of “what’s in it for me?” is that people will no longer be making a mockery of the institution of marriage by marrying just for the benefits. Need a green card? No problem, just show that you are a fiscally responsible adult by maintaining a successful partnership for a set period of time. No need to feign a relationship to fool the government and defile the proud institution of marriage, eh?

And yes, it is possible that marriage will become obsolete from the state’s perspective, but this in no way hinders religious marriage. The Church is free to deem any couple married if they so desire. That’s the beauty of it: With the financial and religious aspects of marriage decoupled, religious marriage gets to retain its integrity.

Any two adults who are legally able to marry can already marry. What are the ethical and moral virtues of creating a civil union which is identical to something that already exists.

Another thing that Christians should consider regarding the inevitable question of “what’s in it for me?” is that people will no longer be making a mockery of the institution of marriage by marrying just for the benefits.

Your assumption that civil marriage for same sex couples is a “mockery” is shared only by those who oppose same sex marriage. Christian ceremonies already exist. You are asking the state to limit the term marriage in a way that will satisfy only those who oppose same sex marriage. Where is the ethical or moral virtue in that?

Need a green card? No problem, just show that you are a fiscally responsible adult by maintaining a successful partnership for a set period of time. No need to feign a relationship to fool the government and defile the proud institution of marriage, eh?

So it will be ok to fool the government and defile a civil union?

And yes, it is possible that marriage will become obsolete from the state’s perspective, but this in no way hinders religious marriage. The Church is free to deem any couple married if they so desire. That’s the beauty of it: With the financial and religious aspects of marriage decoupled, religious marriage gets to retain its integrity.

How does civil marriage hinder religious marriage?

It doesn’t.

But a government redefinition of marriage to include same sex couples not only hinders religious marriage but is a danger to all of society.

The State did not invent marriage as an institution limited to heterosexual couples. Neither did any organized religion.

Marriage is a pre-political and natural phenomenon that arises out of the nature of human beings. Every nation, along with virtually every religion and culture in the world recognizes and supports this natural institution because without it, no society will exist or flourish.

Marriage grows out of a natural affinity and complementarity of male and female – in other words, the ways in which one gender completes the other emotionally, spiritually and physically.

The state acts beyond its competence and authority when it attempts to redefine the fundamental attributes of marriage.

Gay activists have brought great pressure on legislators to have states and government redefine marriage, but they cannot show why this redefinition would benefit society as a whole.

Actually when the state redefines the nature of marriage to include same sex couples, it is doing nothing more than promoting a dangerous sexual behavior.

We tried this (sort of) in the UK with ‘civil unions’ and it satisfied neither side. Every time a same sex couple went to the registrar and had to have a ‘civil union’ rather than a ‘marriage’ they felt (justifiably IMO) that it was a State-sponsored slap in their faces, and conservative christian registrars still objected to registering civil unions because it was obvious to them that this was same sex marriage under a different name.:shrug:

Why leave ‘marriage’ entirely to churches? Just because they (or some of them) think that they own the word?

They don’t - if anything the word was coined by the State in ancient Rome, and applied to a civil legal arrangement.

Bear in mind that despite the rhetoric about ‘attacks on traditional marriage’ noone has seriously suggested preventing heterosexuals or catholics from using the word marriage. So given that (some) churches are the only ones unwilling to share the word marriage, allowing them to prevent others (specifically the State, who coined the word) from using the word is not much of a compromise, is it? :ehh:

Consider the parallel ‘compromise’: if the conservative religious right are not happy with sharing the word ‘marriage’, they can go off and create a new word applying to a new institution, trademarked and so on to prevent the nasty gay couples from using it, and lobby for legal recognition of that institution. Do you for one second think the anti-same-sex-marriage lobby would go for that, except under duress as an absolute last resort? :hmmm:

I think invent is the key word here. The rest sounds like a mathematical formula. Just drop the right variables into the equation and, in this case, a desirable answer will result. The difference is removing sex from the equation, but how would anyone really know what happens behind closed doors after one of the marriage variants is presumably chosen? No 100% no sex outcome can be assumed.

Most people get married. That’s the circumstance under which most children are born. The “benefits only” idea does not strike me as anything but utilitarian or contractural. ‘Benefits only’ sounds socialistic. Or creating a ‘welfare state’ type mentally.

I don’t think it’s worthwhile at all.

Ed

If you are going to claim “danger” please tell us what damage has been done and or what damage you think will be done.

You need to read about the history of marriage. Marriage has been defined throughout history by the times and by culture.

It seems the church has had this problem before. You might also want to read the The syllabus of errors condemned by PIUS IX.

While I am not in favor of some of the tactics that some radical gay activists used gays and lesbians won in the hearts of people and in the courts by keeping the fight focused on the ethics and virtues of civil rights and same sex marriage. You offer zero ethical claims or virtues as to why the state should adopt your version of what you merely think the definition of marriage should be.

Irresponsible sex exists independently of marriage it does not rely on encouragement from any other source. If anything marriage reduces the incidence of irresponsible sex which is a virtue of marriage.

It is an undeniable fact that homosexual behavior spreads disease.

We have been down this road before on all the other “homosexual” threads. We can go over all the arguments and statistics again…and the truth remains…DISEASE.

You need to read about the history of marriage. Marriage has been defined throughout history by the times and by culture.

I know all there is to know about marriage…I am married.

Marriage existed before recorded history. It has probably been referred to by many names and concepts. It has never been defined as a union of two people of the same sex.

Over the course of centuries, people simply entered into and lived out their marriages according to the traditional practices of the culture in which they lived. Despite the widespread practice and acceptance of homosexual relations in the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, neither Greek law nor Roman law ever sought to grant legal status to same-sex relationships or to define them as “marriage.”

It seems the church has had this problem before. You might also want to read the The syllabus of errors condemned by PIUS IX.

I read it in college.

The “Syllabus” itself was not a magisterial document.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) referred to the Vatican II Constitution Gaudium et Spes as a “counter-syllabus-of -errors”.

While I am not in favor of some of the tactics that some radical gay activists used gays and lesbians won in the hearts of people and in the courts by keeping the fight focused on the ethics and virtues of civil rights and same sex marriage. You offer zero ethical claims or virtues as to why the state should adopt your version of what you merely think the definition of marriage should be.

The burden is not on my shoulders. You are promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and the redefinition of marriage. The states and federal government always had defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman…until, as you say, homosexuals pressured courts to create “rights” that never existed before. I am not asking the state to adopt anything. I am defending…you offer the ethical claims…you prove that a redefinition of marriage will be a benefit to all of society…you have to convince me.

Irresponsible sex exists independently of marriage it does not rely on encouragement from any other source. If anything marriage reduces the incidence of irresponsible sex which is a virtue of marriage.

That is very true as it relates to straight society.

Yes, I agree that irresponsible sex spreads disease. Now tell me how same sex marriage spreads disease or encourages others to spreed disease. Isn’t that your contention?

BTW lesbians have the lowest incidence of STDs. By your logic if disease is a factor lesbians should be allowed same sex marriage. I am sure you can do better than that.

I know all there is to know about marriage…I am married…

Good, I am married too.

Marriage existed before recorded history. It has probably been referred to by many names and concepts. It has never been defined as a union of two people of the same sex.

Good, we agree marriage has been historically defined by society. I think we can also agree that polygamy is defined as marriage and polygamy is usually between one man and multiple women (last I checked women, unless transgendered, are the same sex). Even though polygamy and same sex are different the point remains that society has the right to define marriage. In our society you have the right to lobby for your version on the merits of your version. You haven’t said what they are.

I read it in college.

The “Syllabus” itself was not a magisterial document.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) referred to the Vatican II Constitution Gaudium et Spes as a “counter-syllabus-of -errors”.

I did not say it was a magisterial document only that the church has had a similar problem with marriage before. It didn’t work out well for them back then either.

The burden is not on my shoulders. You are promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and the redefinition of marriage. The states and federal government always had defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman…until, as you say, homosexuals pressured courts to create “rights” that never existed before. I am not asking the state to adopt anything. I am defending…you offer the ethical claims…you prove that a redefinition of marriage will be a benefit to all of society…you have to convince me.

That is very true as it relates to straight society.

I am not promoting anything I am merely correcting myths about same sex marriage like: same sex marriage spreads disease and the historical significance of societal marriage laws. Today 36 US states and 16 countries (more after the Jan 1.) define marriage as between 2 adults.

You made the same response on a previous post on another thread. Do I have to repeat my entire reply again.

I said homosexual behavior spreads disease. Period. Not irresponsible sex…homosexual behavior. That is a fact. unless you can prove otherwise. I supplied all the links to CDC studies and reports that claim "the spread of sexual transmitted disease is at epidemic levels within the gay communities. This is dangerous…people are dying.

You include lesbians in order to minimize the facts. Good one, Frobert …people are dying and you try to minimize it. :mad:

I’ll save you the time…your next post will be your standard illogical argument about STD’s within the heterosexual community…as if two wrongs make a right.

We all know that lesbians have the lowest incidence of STDs…because you have posted those exact words several times before. The trouble is that you are trying so hard to justify homosexuality that you neglect to mention that lesbians seem to have more psychological problems and a much shorter life span than their straight sisters.

Good grief…you really need some new material

Good, we agree marriage has been historically defined by society. I think we can also agree that polygamy is defined as marriage and polygamy is usually between one man and multiple women (last I checked women, unless transgendered, are the same sex). Even though polygamy and same sex are different the point remains that society has the right to define marriage. In our society you have the right to lobby for your version on the merits of your version. You haven’t said what they are.

My version of marriage, or should I say THE version of marriage already exists. It has existed since before recorded history. Since your version differs it is up to you to lobby.
Remember, society can call an apple an orange but it lacks the biological authority change the apple into an orange.

I did not say it was a magisterial document only that the church has had a similar problem with marriage before. It didn’t work out well for them back then either.

The Syllabus of Errors has no bearing on the redefinition of marriage, Unless you can point out the problem the Church had with marriage before.

I am not promoting anything I am merely correcting myths about same sex marriage like: same sex marriage spreads disease and the historical significance of societal marriage laws. Today 36 US states and 16 countries (more after the Jan 1.) define marriage as between 2 adults.

You are not correcting anything. Every point you make has been refuted before on other threads. Other forum members have corrected your misguided religious views while I have concentrated on natural secular logic. Wise up!

Yes 36 states have redefined marriage. There were several states that legalized slavery…,but that didn’t make it right. There may be more states that redefine marriage but there will also be one more serious U.S. Supreme Court Challenge that may very well reverse these lower courts misguided views.

But homosexual marriage does not. It reduces the spread of disease.

Heterosexual behaviour also spreads disease, and oppression of homosexuals only encourages the spread of disease by pushing them into anonymous secretive sex. The number of gay ‘saunas’ has plummeted since homosexuality was decriminalised and they can actually date and cohabit openly. Studies have shown that recognising their marriages further reduces risky behaviour.

People are indeed dying, but you are the ones trying to prevent the solution. So get :mad: at the man in the mirror, if anyone.:shrug:

Yes some people on this thread who have not been privy to your logic might be interested in it.

You continue to disregard the salient factors to spread myths. If a person engages in irresponsible sex, gay or straight there is a danger of spreading disease. I am not refuting the CDC statistics I am framing them properly and in a way that leads to harm reduction.

You are misusing the CDC stats for your own anti-same sex marriage agenda. Let’s examine the statistics. The latest figures are from 2011. At the end of 2011, there were an estimated 880,400 persons living with diagnosed HIV infection in the United States. In 2011 the estimated number of homosexuals in the US was 19 million. Note I am using the total CDC figure and not adjusting for intravenous and heterosexual cases.

188400/19000000 = 0.046

That means that less the .5% (less than one half of one percent) of the homosexual population in the US are living with HIV infections.

You are advocating marriage discrimination on the basis of less than .5% of the population.

:thumbsup:

Yes these are the salient factors that some people will disregard so they can continue believing in there their myths.

I think we should drop the whole gay issue as a church, lawyers and politicians can argue for civil rights.

As a Catholic, I believe the only thing we can stand our ground on, is the loving relationship of one man, one woman, for life and before God. The before God is not up for debate.

The way I see it is this, loving great grand parents together for life, loving grandparents, and loving parents, all for life. Aunties, uncles, aunts, cousins, brother and sisters desire the same lasting relationships for life and before God.

This is at the heart of community and building a strong country.

In the UK anything goes, and forty percent of marriages end in divorce, resulting in fragmented parents, grandparents, uncles aunts, step brothers and sisters. This cannot be healthy for anyone. Not all relationships are equal, and I believe there is an even greater rate of separation for cohabiting couples.

All very sad.

Pretty much the same thing on this side of the pond. I do wonder though what you mean by “we should drop the whole gay issue as a church.”

Best,
Ed

I just get the feeling we are very vocal about what we are against, but we do not seem to stand up for what we consider to be the greatest good relationships. Maybe youngsters growing up might need more guidence.

At the moment it seems all relationships are equal and there is no best way, just my thoughts.

There is no evidence to back that up. Some homosexuals have been living together in “committed relationships” for years before the idea of gay marriage came up. The rate of spread of STDs within the gay communities has increased to epidemic levels. Apparently redefined gay marriage is having no effect…

Heterosexual behaviour also spreads disease,

Illogical argument…two wrongs do not make it right.

and oppression of homosexuals only encourages the spread of disease by pushing them into anonymous secretive sex. The number of gay ‘saunas’ has plummeted since homosexuality was decriminalised and they can actually date and cohabit openly. Studies have shown that recognising their marriages further reduces risky behaviour.

Oh here is a new one…Straight people are responsible for the spread of disease in the gay community…:confused:

Let’s see…you say that since homosexuality was decriminalized there are FEWER gay saunas and they now date and cohabit openly. They also are protected by “gay rights” laws and can be victimized by “hate crimes”. But…you maintain that due to oppression, homosexuals resort to “secretive sex” and that is the reason for the epidemic of STDs. “Oppression”??? I don’t see any oppression. Gays have been out-of-the-closet for years now. Their lifestyle is virtually glorified in the media. School children are taught that it is OK to be gay if they want to.

Sorry Dr. You are not making sense.

People are indeed dying, but you are the ones trying to prevent the solution. So get :mad: at the man in the mirror, if anyone.:shrug:

I did look in the mirror…and I did get mad. The man in the mirror, and many like me, fell for the gay sophistry that is spreading nationwide…and right here on our forum.

Exellent idea, Fro. We should not minimize the physical dangers of homosexual relations.

OK here goes…again:

It is an undeniable fact that homosexuality (The participation in or desire to participate in sexual conduct with those of the same sex.) spreads disease.

“STD’s at epidemic level within gay communities nation wide”.-- Center for Disease Control

cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/…idemic-508.pdf

It is absurd to compare the spread of disease within the homosexual community with the heterosexual community. The rate of disease among homosexuals is extremely higher than heterosexuals. Also just because STD’s exist in the heterosexual community is no reason to justify unnatural sexual relations. In other words…two wrongs don’t make it right

You continue to disregard the salient factors to spread myths. If a person engages in irresponsible sex, gay or straight there is a danger of spreading disease. I am not refuting the CDC statistics I am framing them properly and in a way that leads to harm reduction.

You are misusing the CDC stats for your own anti-same sex marriage agenda. Let’s examine the statistics. The latest figures are from 2011. At the end of 2011, there were an estimated 880,400 persons living with diagnosed HIV infection in the United States. In 2011 the estimated number of homosexuals in the US was 19 million. Note I am using the total CDC figure and not adjusting for intravenous and heterosexual cases.

188400/19000000 = 0.046

That means that less the .5% (less than one half of one percent) of the homosexual population in the US are living with HIV infections.

No…you are misusing the stats. I am talking about the rate of newly diagnosed cases of STDs not estimated numbers of people living with diagnosed HIV infection in the United States.

More than half of new HIV infections occur among gay and bisexual men. Heterosexual men account for only 25%.

Note that homosexuals account for less than 3% of the total population. That is staggering …3% of the population spread half of all HIV infections nationwide.

You are advocating marriage discrimination on the basis of less than .5% of the population.

No, I am not advocating marriage discrimination. As long as men and women marry one another there can be no discrimination.

I am advocating a safer and disease free society.

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