Once upon a time, in a land not far away, a young girl worked on washing a sink full of dirty dishes while singing “Someday My Prince Will Come” from the movie Snow White that she had just finished watching. As she scrubbed and sang, this young girl’s father came up behind her and said, “You know, it’s true. Someday your Prince will come. The important thing is that you make sure to become the Princess that he is looking for.”
That young girl was me, and this story marked the beginning of my conscious preparation for marriage. As I have looked forward to and prepared for that time, marriage has become very important to me. I now realize that marriage is not just a nice ending to a fairy tale, but the institution of marriage is critical to the well-being of all society.
The Threat to “Happily Ever After“
As a young girl it made sense to me that princes married princesses and then they lived happily ever after. However, in our society today, there are those who would argue that princesses ought to be meeting princesses once upon a time, and that fairy tales should include princes living happily ever with other princes. This basic and fundamental idea that marriage is between one man and one woman is being challenged in the highest Court in the nation. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering arguments that Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. Prop. 8 resulted in a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The Defense of Marriage Act currently defines the word marriage to mean a legal union between one man and one woman and reserves the power of defining marriage to the states.
Why Marriage Matters
Marriage is not just a nice idea that has been passed along through fairy tales. It is an institution that gives our society strength and stability. Research reports have found a “fundamental incapacity for the faithfulness and commitment that is axiomatic to the institution of marriage” in the same gender relationships. This lack of strength and stability in such a fundamental building block of society can significantly weaken societies. In general, we find that even the act of redefining marriage undermines support for marriage in society. In the six years following Spain’s redefinition of marriage, the overall rate of marriages fell a staggering twenty percent.
Looking further back into history, Arnold Toynbee wrote a twelve volume study on the rise and fall of civilizations, remarked:
“In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and postnuptial continence.”
This observation makes the point that the success of society does rest upon its adherence to definitions of marriage.
Marriage defined as between one man and one woman is not just a nice idea that society came up with. There are simply some rules that are not up to us to make. Joseph Backholm wrote:
“We could pass a law banning gravity because it discriminates against wingless creatures, but the moment we launched ourselves off a building to celebrate our independence from it we would simply reinforce the limits of our legislative authority.
Natural marriage flows from the laws of nature. It is not a uniquely valuable relationship because people gathered in their caves eons ago and launched a campaign to stigmatize people attracted to the same sex. Marriage between a man and a woman is uniquely valuable because we are a gendered species. It is a biological reality that every child has a mom and dad. The fact that it is ideal for children to have both parents in their lives flows from nature, not from hatred of non-parents. For those who are offended by this reality, their issue is not with you.
The ideas that parents are interchangeable will not survive because it cannot survive. It cannot survive because it is inconsistent with reality. Fathers cannot mother, and mothers cannot father.”
If the definition of marriage is so basic and essential, why are there voices still crying for same gender relationships to become legally sanctioned? The traditional form of marriage is portrayed in many instances as a form of discrimination or intolerance. While it is true that there are unjust cases of discrimination against and intolerance of those with same gender attraction, that does not constitute a need for a redefinition of marriage.
Many would argue that an issue like this ought not to be tampered with by law because you cannot legislate morality. However, we do legislate morality, and it can even be said that law is an expression of a society’s morality. Others would say that love in and of itself ought to be a license to marry. Yet marriage is much more than a statement of love. It creates a framework upon which a society can be established and maintained and children can be successfully socialized.
Another often heard argument is that same gender relationships and marriages are a private thing, and would not influence those who chose not to participate. However, we have seen that these relationships do have a ripple effect that carries to children, violence and abuse rates, and the overall health and success of society.
The truth is that a homosexual marriage will impact my heterosexual one. According to Family Research Council, “Our public policy affects marriages and family formation, and because marriage is so foundational to a civil society, it is not just a private matter but affects entire communities and cultures.” If same-sex marriages are legalized, in the long run fewer people would marry, fewer people would remain monogamous and sexually faithful, fewer people would remain married for a lifetime, fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father, more children would grow up fatherless, and birth rates would fall. Yes, a homosexual marriage will impact my heterosexual one.
The truth is that no union other than that between one man and one woman will result in a happily ever after for our society.
So what can we do to protect a fairy tale ending? The fight to redefine marriage has been taken to the courts because it has not had success through the legislative process. This makes it critical for us to give support for constitutional amendments both at the state and federal levels. You can start by looking to see what measures your state has in place. The threat to our definition of happily ever after and the reality of that in society is real, but so are our opportunities to let our voice be heard.