Marriage Matters—or Does It?
Several days ago, I happened to overhear a conversation between a young guy and a female friend of his. When asked by the friend how things were going with him, the fellow announced that his girlfriend was pregnant. When the friend questioned whether he and his longtime girlfriend would get married now that a baby was on the way, the man replied in the negative. One of his siblings had been in a long term relationship and then married, only to see his marriage fall apart after a couple of years, so why risk getting married, when the same thing could happen to him and his girlfriend? In his mind, marriage was a threat to the good relationship he now had with his girlfriend. (The fellow’s pregnant girlfriend wasn’t around, so she may have felt differently.) I was surprised—shocked, actuallyat the casual manner with which the father-to-be dismissed any plan to marry the mother of his child.
But I shouldn’t have been. I had just observed what social scientists have been noticing for a long time now. Statistics show a downward trend in the number of people marrying and an increase in the number of cohabiting sexual partners. Moreover, marriage and parenthood are no longer linked, as they once were. Although hardly a typical couple, celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt nevertheless present a vivid picture of the new attitude to marriage and parenthood. After seven years together and six children, the couple recently announced their wedding engagement. It was their eldest son who encouraged his parents to take the plunge. They went along with it, they claimed, because it meant so much to their children. Whether or not the fellow I overheard will one day also take the plunge, I wouldn’t wager a guess.
In what is surely one of the strangest contradictions of our times, marriage is increasingly thought of as an unnecessary, even possibly destructive, legalism by many cohabiting couples; yet, for the gay and lesbian community and their advocates, the right for homosexuals to legally marry is now seen as the primary human rights challenge of the day. Anyone who opposes “marriage equality” soon discovers how the gay community and its advocates react to opposition, even perceived opposition. Consider the vitriol directed at the CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, who merely voiced his own opinion in support of traditional marriage and the biblical definition of the family unit. The mayors of several American cities threatened to ban expansion of Cathy’s fast food chain in their cities. The Jim Henson Company cut off all collaboration with Chick-fil-A. Demonstrations outside of Cathy’s restaurants were called for. The storm created by Cathy’s comments has yet to subside.
Defining marriage these days is not without its risks. Nevertheless, my own view of marriage is that it is a lifelong, monogamous, relationship of a covenantal nature between one man and one woman. It is this same relationship, moreover, which provides the secure environment needed by both husband and wife and their children to thrive and achieve their highest potential. Incredibly, at this point in time, I could be branded both a “dinosaur” and a “bigot” for holding such views.