Same-sex couples all over New Zealand are legally marrying today as the law which redefined marriage comes into effect.
The media is abuzz with the news that 31 same-sex couples will marry today. Images of same-sex couples dressed in traditional wedding attire are being posted on all online news sites and there is a real sense of celebration in the air by those who see this as a victory for equality.
But is this new look marriage really what marriage is all about? Is it speaking the truth of marriage? And ultimately will the move to redefine marriage be a good step for New Zealand society?
The language couched around redefining marriage is all about feelings, love and equality. But love is only one aspect of marriage, albeit a very important aspect. Is love really the sole reason why societies all over the world for centuries have protected marriage between men and woman?
William B May, author of Getting the Marriage Conversation Right explains that there are two conflicting understandings of marriage in society today. The first is that
marriage is the public recognition of a committed relationship between a man and a woman (or two adults) for their fulfillment.
This is what most people believe marriage to be now. It is why the love and equality arguments ring true with so many people, in particular with Church-going Christians who are misguided in their understanding of sexuality and marriage.
The second definition of marriage is
marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.
This second definition is what most people would refer to as “traditional marriage”. May goes on to say “that is what marriage is, and that is what it does. It expresses God’s plan for creation but is not dependent on belief in God.”
Somehow, in our romantic notions of love and marriage we have forgotten this truth.
By redefining marriage, our lawmakers have eliminated the only institution that united children with their mothers and fathers. They have said that no one in a child’s life is irreplaceable. They have said that equality, feelings and the fulfillment of adults is more important than the stability of the natural family and the welfare of children.
But how did we get here?
Leighton Smith from Newstalk ZB had some home truths to tell Christians today on his talk back show. He explained that Christians do not have a real understanding of what marriage is. He reminded us that Christians have embraced certain aspects of the sexual revolution – divorce, the acceptance of cohabitation and children being tossed around from one parent to the other. “How can you argue against the gay marriage thing?” he asked.
And he is right.
Too many Christians have embraced aspects of the sexual revolution. Divorce and contraception and sterilization are widespread. IVF is a commonplace treatment for couples who experience infertility. Many Christians have brought the lie that marriage is about the fulfillment of adults.
Smorgasbord Christianity has contributed to the demise of marriage and family in society.
Faithful Christianity will build marriage and family back up again.
As William May says “The focus must now be on rebuilding a marriage culture and protecting, as far as possible, the rights of children and the best interests of society for the future.”
William B May is the President of Catholics for the Common Good, a lay apostolate for the evagelisation of the culture based on the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He will be speaking in New Zealand at the “Rise Up Together in the Service of Life” Conference, September 27 to 29th at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. His book “Getting the Marriage Conversation Right” can be purchased through Family Life Catholic Gifts.