The Definition of Marriage
The definition of marriage is important. It serves as part of the foundation of western civilization. Many conservatives lament that our civilization is in decline; one reason may be that marriage has begun to be redefined.
There are several components of how western civilization has historically defined marriage. While it is important that married couples be happy and suitable for one another, personal reasons such as these serve as a poor foundation for determining how we define marriage as a society. Historically, the overarching, sociological reasons have been:
- Marriage is between two people of opposite sexes. Occasionally this definition would include polygyny, or even rarer polyandry, but for the most part it was defined as between one man and one woman.
- Marriage is for life. No getting out of it except under very extreme circumstances such as adultery, abuse, abandonment, and the like.
- Marriage serves as the basis for bearing and raising children.
- Marriage serves as the basis for establishing paternity. Determining the mother is easy: the baby comes out of her body! From a legal standpoint, the father is the man that the woman is married to.
- Because of the natural procreative capacity of man/woman marriage, marriage connects the generations to one another.
The legal concept of no fault divorce removed the permanent aspect of marriage. Contraception and the new sexual mores brought about by the sexual revolution changed the notion that children should be raised by their biological parents who are married to each other. Gay marriage (aka marriage equality) is changing the idea that the people need to be different sexes. It will also change how we define "parent" - it will remove the biological basis for parents, and replace it with a subjective, state defined basis.
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Read our 8 part series called, The Libertarian Case for Man/Woman Marriage. Part 1 is called "The Definition of Marriage."
Learn about Preserving the Ecosystem of Marriage.
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