Saturday, January 18, 2014

First, Just One Question: What Is Marriage?

The Indiana legislature is currently considering a bill to amend its constitution by redefining marriage to include same-sex unions. On January 13, Ryan T. Anderson (the co-author, with Prof. Robert George and Sherif Girgis, of What Is Marriage?) offered testimony in favor of the current law to the Judiciary Committee of the Indiana House of Representatives. The video (at the link, and below as well) is just eleven minutes long, but his arguments are timeless, and can provide you with a number of excellent and principled reasons for bucking the current trend to redefine marriage.

For that is what all these laws must first do: in order to sanction same-sex unions, the legislatures have to replace the traditional definition of marriage with a new one. Few are the legislators, however, who pause to analyze the pros and cons of such a move -- because the argument in favor of it is all about "rights" and "equality." Here is how Ryan Anderson introduces his response to that argument (from the adapted transcript of his remarks):
... It’s interesting that we’ve had a three-hour conversation about marriage without much by way of answering that question [of "what is marriage"?].

Everyone in this room is in favor of marriage equality. We all want the law to treat all marriages equally. But the only way we can know whether any state law is treating marriages equally is if we know what a marriage is. Every state law will draw lines between what is a marriage and what isn’t a marriage. If those lines are to be drawn on principle, if those lines are to reflect the truth, we have to know what sort of relationship is marital, as contrasted with other forms of consenting adult relationships.

So, in the time I have today, I’ll answer three questions: what is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what are the consequences of redefining marriage?
Take the time to listen to the video, and also open up another tab and follow along with the transcript, if you like. You'll find it well worth your while (H/T: Stand to Reason blog):

As Anderson explains in this interview, Indiana is one of the few states left that is entertaining legislation on the subject, and he predicts the eventual divide will be 15 or so states that jettison the traditional definition of marriage, and 35 states that retain it.


  1. If a timeless label on the most basic container of Man must now be thrown out, then we are likely close to the expiration of all named things.

    1. Precisely. What good is definition and assignment of status to a title if it ceases to be a standard of weight or length or the case of physical matter, or of relationship to fellow humans in the anthropological, cultural, social, and religious sense?
      I hereby demand that marriage is a dirigible named the Hindenburg. Words, traditions, concepts of relation all become shapeless, transparent, valueless, adaptive to whatever hormone rush or avarice that is winning the moment.
      You are a good man, Mike Anderson. You speak the truth.

  2. The discussion in Indiana is a proposed constitutionsl amendment, not legislation. Anderson views marriage solely As 'woman = baby factory'. He had nothing useful to contribute, not surprising since he and his team are shock troops of OPUS DEI.

    1. Gary 47a, your criticism is purely ad hominem, i.e., attack the messenger and ignore his message. To reduce his arguments (and his book) to just "woman = baby factory" does not reflect well on your engagement with them.

      A constitutional amendment, by the way, is still "legislation" that proceeds by way of a bill in the legislature, and most of the States that have addressed this issue have done so by way of constitutional amendments. Nevertheless, I have changed the post in order to reflect that additional fact.