How to teach about Same Sex MarriageBy: Stephen Marsh
The following is how we ought to teach about Same Sex Marriage in the Ensign and in Sunday School
Historically, there have been the following reasons for opposing SSM (I’m using short names for the issues that are more for ease in remembering them than for any other purpose, feel free to change the names for the issues):
- Marriage is a core cultural matter and often changing such things will have side effects and consequences we do not easily or readily foresee. The “Jane Galt” issue.
- We should take seriously the predictions and motivations of anti-marriage activists who claim that their promotion of SSM will help to destroy traditional marriage. I’ll refer to that as the “Seth’s memories” issue. However, that position was a very real, and very public voice on the issue.
- Pro SSM philosophers from a couple three thousand years ago based their praxis and argument on the thesis that women were not sufficient or suitable for real love. I’ll refer to that as the “Plato’s lectures” issue.
- Marriage is inherently a duality involving two different sexes and boundary marking. I’ll refer to that as the “Wardle issue.”
- Marriage is inherently a vertical matter, not horizontal, linking families through the ages for the purposes of raising children, not individuals to each other for personal fulfillment. I’ll refer to that as the “irresistible issue.”
- The “I don’t want to think about it” or the “MoHoHawaii” issue (since he nicely identifies that the largest block is similar to the block that doesn’t like sushi).
- Embracing SSM puts members and leaders at risk in other countries. I’ll refer to that as the “Community of Christ issue.” (That is especially appropriate as they have two of their leaders not listed on their website and are working towards a method of nationalizing their stance on SSM to allow for different positions in different countries to neutralize the risk).
- God, as in the teachings of Paul, expressly condemns the point.
The voices in favor of same sex marriage have argued:
- Essential fairness requires SSM, the “fairness” issue.
- Economic fairness requires that same sex partners receive the same benefits for the same pay.
- Moral fairness requires that same sex partners receive the same treatment.
- Social fairness requires that same sex partners receive the same recognition for the same status.
- Religious fairness requires that a church that performs SSM have its sacraments recognized just like any other church’s sacrament of marriage.
- Legal fairness requires that same sex partners have the right to inherit, visit in hospitals and care for each other.
- Essential self-fulfillment requires SSM, the “fulfillment” issue.
- Get over being squeamish, the “sushi” issue.
- Each person has a right to define for themselves what “marriage” means — including not forsaking all others, etc.
- The consequences of what one group wants should be willingly borne by others in the group.
- Paul was condemning same sex practices used by heterosexuals for birth control purposes. Otherwise, almost everything from Leviticus was set aside in the Book of Acts in the Bible.
Recently there have been two additional arguments added.
- Children of same sex partners deserve to be in families too.
- Pair bonded individuals with long standing exclusive relationships who want to support marriage deserve to be allowed to observe their relationship as a marriage.
These changes involve a move from SSM as a countermeasure and an intended attack on marriage as an express agenda for those pushing for it (a majority of the public voices at one time) to a recognition of SSM as fitting within the traditional structure of vertical relationships for the purpose of strengthening society and raising children.
That creates a traditional argument for SSM from a social and family preservation angle.
Theologically, once you allow marriages between people who are sealed to others (e.g. when a widow and a widower marry), you are allowing for temporary relationships for this life only for (a) companionship and (b) family support. That does not seem to change if you change the genders of those being married (and has interesting implications. If your spouse is away for a year or two at war, no one thinks you are free to find a temporary companion until they get back. If they die, everyone expects you to find a temporary companion until you are re-united).
Socially it does bring up the possibility that as the terms of the debate, the positions of those debating, and the purpose of the debate have changed, so might the result. A gay couple that seeks marriage to strengthen vertical relationships and to provide a true family for children seems to be seeking to do and to model what the children need and deserve and what marriage has traditionally been about. They would seem to be exactly whom everyone would want to see married, for the children’s sake if nothing else.
The Ensign should have an article that goes over those points.
The core logic points support opposing SSM at times and supporting it at times. They even allows for the RLDS/Community of Christ approach of taking both sides, depending on where you are standing at the time. By discussing the points the conversation is moved from shallow points to more nuanced ones.
What do you think? What arguments, for or against, would you add? Would you add conclusions to such an article beyond what I’m suggesting? If so, what conclusions and why?