The consequences of a legal redefinition of marriage from the conjugal view of marriage to the revisionist view of marriage would be widespread and destructive. In What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert George summarize the “heart” of their argument against the revisionist view in their introduction.
If the law defines marriage to include same-sex partners, many will come to misunderstand marriage. They will not see it as essentially comprehensive, or thus (among other things) as ordered to procreation and family life—but as essentially an emotional union. For reasons to be explained, they will therefore tend not to understand or respect the objective norms of permanence or sexual exclusivity that shape it. Nor, in the end, will they see why the terms of marriage should not depend altogether on the will of the parties, be they two or ten in number, as the terms of friendships and contracts do. That is, to the extent that marriage is misunderstood, it will be harder to see the point of its norms, to live by them, and to urge them on others. And this, besides making any remaining restrictions on marriage arbitrary, will damage the many cultural and political goods that get the state involved in marriage in the first place.1
They list those cultural and political goods next, and you can also find them on page four of the NRO article “Marriage and Politics: Why the debate matters; why the conjugal view can prevail,” with a brief explanation of each.
- Real marital fulfillment.
- Spousal well-being.
- Children’s well-being.
- Religious liberty.
- Limited government.
I’ll be writing in turn on these benefits of marriage and the damaging consequences of legally revising its definition. I’ll include analysis on these and other consequences from additional sources as I find it. In posts that use information from What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense I’ll be using the photograph of the wedding cake bride and groom ornament as an image. Remember that in What Is Marriage? the authors stated:
…our argument makes no appeal to divine revelation or religious authority. We think it right and proper to make religious arguments for or against a marriage policy, but we offer no religious arguments here.
There is simple and decisive evidence that the conjugal view is not peculiar to religion, or to any religious tradition.2
Because they made this self-restriction, I also want to bring in our appeals as Christians to the God’s revelation, the Bible, for Scripture alone is our infallible rule of faith and practice.
Ceramic ornament used on the top of a wedding cake in Birmingham, England in August 1959, Andy Mabbett, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
1, 2Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (Encounter Books, New York NY: 2012) 7, 10.