Marriage: How do we Define it And What Does it Mean?

With the recent same-sex marriage debates, the topic of what marriage really means has come up on numerous occasions. Crucially, the three main questions which have been asked include: what is marriage, why does it matter and what would be the consequences of redefining it to exclude sexual complementarity? In the eyes of religion, marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together in a union, to serve as husband and wife, and father and mother to any children they may have. The process itself is based on anthropological fact that women and men are complementary to each other – reproduction is proof enough of this. Marriage has been around for centuries, far longer than government, and creates the foundations for human civilisation.

Marriage benefits society in a way that no other institution does, which is why it plays such a large role in government and civilisation. It’s not only important to those who engage in the institution, but also the wellbeing of children – the government recognises that it protects children, through encouraging people to commit to each other and accept responsibility. The concept of promoting marriage is not exclusive to any type of relationship – it is redefining marriage which has caused complications for many. It’s because redefining it places more of an importance on the needs of adults than children, which goes against centuries of protocol. As long as the child’s needs remain paramount, the relevance of sexual orientation is moot.

Marriage is a complex understanding, but redefining it rejects the anthropological ‘ideal’ that this union is exclusive to a man and a woman. However, society has moved on – we no longer conform to this notion, so why does marriage need to follow along in this manner as well? If we stick with the archaic principles that marriage is solely for heterosexual couples, we would surely need to stick with many other ideals as well. If society progresses, it needs to expand to encapsulate everything which society includes.

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