In De-Lovely, the new film about songwriter Cole Porter's life, Porter tells his wife, Linda, about his homosexuality. Linda, who is the inspiration behind his genius, tells him that his music comes from his talent not from his destructive behavior. But she does beg Porter to give up his scandalous behavior so as "not to put us at jeopardy," a promise Porter isn't prepared to make.
The prospect of a marriage where children, permanence, and fidelity are in doubt is supposed to make us pity Linda Porter, even if she was complicit in her own plight. After all, who would opt for such an arrangement? Well, according to one scholar, many Americans have. And understanding how and why this is the case is crucial to understanding the push for same-sex "marriages."
According to Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University, homosexuals don't want marriage, at least not marriage as understood for most of the past two millennia. They want what "marriage has become" as a result of cultural changes and bad policy choices.
Historically speaking, marriage was an institution "defined by religious doctrine, moral tradition, home-centered commitments to child rearing, and gender complementarity . . . " Today, it is a "highly individualistic and egalitarian institution." Marriage no longer "[implies] commitment to home, to Church, to childbearing, to traditional gender duties, or even (permanently) to spouse," so writes Christensen.
Traditionally, the "husband-wife bond" was defined by "mutual sacrifice and cooperative labor." But that has been replaced by "dual-careerist vistas of self-fulfillment and consumer satisfaction."
According to Christensen, no one should be surprised that homosexuals want "the strange new thing marriage has become." After all, "contemporary marriage . . . certifies a certain legitimacy in the mainstream of American culture." In addition, it "delivers tax, insurance, life-style, and governmental benefits."
And, best of all, from the homosexual's perspective, it does all of these things "without imposing any of the obligations of traditional marriage." If childbearing, sexual fidelity, and permanence are no longer central to our culture's understanding of marriage, but the benefits are the same, why not agitate for marriage?
Christensen says that it would be a mockery to issue marriage license to couples who, by definition, "can never have children," "will not resist the temptations to extramarital affairs, and will not preserve their union for a lifetime."
But, as he reminds us, this mockery of wedlock started "decades ago." It started when hundreds of thousands of heterosexual couples started "buying basset hounds rather than bassinets; started indulging in extramarital affairs; and started fulfilling divorce attorneys' dreams of avarice." The result was marriages that more closely resembled the one depicted in De-Lovely than the traditional model.
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't fight the attempt to extend the marriage franchise to same-sex couples. It's still a mockery of a sacred institution. But it does mean that our efforts should be part of what Christensen calls a "broader effort to restore moral and religious integrity to marriage as a heterosexual institution."
Until that happens, marriage, regardless of who gets a marriage license, will remain an institution in jeopardy.
Call 1-877-322-5527 to request the free BreakPoint marriage amendment information packet and the free "Talking Points on Marriage and Same-Sex Unions." Also available is the Speak the Truth in Love kit (suggested donation: $25).