The Southern Baptist Convention’s top ethicist and resident plagiarist Richard Land is offering a completely original idea that he hopes will end the debate over same-sex marriage once and for all! In his column, What Relationships Should Be Called Marriage: A Modest Proposal, Land proposes that gay couples should be barred from marrying but instead be treated the same way as “two maiden or widowed sisters who were living together or a mother and a devoted son or daughter who were living together in a platonic relationship.”
Marriage has been defined in Western civilization for at least two millennia now as being a sexual relationship between one man and one woman. Christianity has defined it so historically, most often coupling it with life-long permanence and monogamy. As an Evangelical Christian, I certainly embrace that definition.
However, how do we deal with those who would choose to extend some of the legal privileges our society has accorded marriage to same-sex relationships without shattering the definition of marriage or discriminating against people outside the heterosexual definition of marriage? How do we protect society against those who would extend the special status of marriage to homosexual, lesbian or polygamous relationships? How do we protect time-honored titles, like “husband” and “wife,” from being attacked as homophobic or sexist terms to be replaced by spouse #1 and spouse #2 or “Mom” and “Dad” from being reduced legally to caregiver #1 and caregiver #2? Such legal assaults on these time-honored family terms seem inevitable if “same-sex” marriage becomes equal with heterosexual marriage.
I propose that as Americans we declare heterosexual marriage as the only relationship in our society that is to be defined by its sexual nature and that it will continue to be defined as a legal relationship between one man and one woman consummated by sexual intercourse.
If two men or two women are living together in a relationship and they want to ask the state legislature in their state to grant some of the special legal privileges accorded marriage to their relationship the state legislature should respond in the following fashion: “We will consider your request, but the sexual nature of your relationship will be irrelevant to our discussions because marriage is the only relationship in our society that is defined by its sexual nature. Why should other people who are living in committed relationships that do not involve sexual activity be discriminated against or left out?”
In other words, the state legislature would not discriminate against two maiden or widowed sisters who were living together or a mother and a devoted son or daughter who were living together in a platonic relationship. Why should such households and relationships be left behind when legal privileges and recognition are being passed out just because they are not in a sexual relationship?