On Marriages and Commitments

By Samuel L. Blumenfeld
March 01, 2003

Whenever Sunday Boston Globe, I enjoy scanning the wedding announcements to see if I know any of the couples or their families. It gives a quick view of culture, religion, education, careers, and honeymoon destinations, all which reveal a great deal about our society in a very small amount of printed space. But this Sunday, there was something on the Special Occasions page that had never been there before, a section headed by the word Commitments, which listed three same-sex "affirmations of partnerships," the partners being all males.

Homosexual "Marriages"
Most of the heterosexual marriages took place in churches of all sorts of denominations. One took place at an inn on Martha's Vineyard. But on the whole, religion seemed to play an important part in the marriage. Weddings are traditionally religious ceremonies, and although we live in a largely secular culture, when it comes to such important occasions as weddings and funerals, families turn to religious traditions — Christian or Jewish — that have been handed down over several thousand years.

The widespread preference for church weddings is of course due to our general acknowledgment that newlyweds need all of the spiritual help they can get as they embark on their new lives as married couples. Marriage, along with parenthood, is a very demanding state of existence, requiring strong love and commitment.

And so I was interested in seeing whether same-sex commitments reflected the same values as normal marriages between men and women. There were no gay church weddings. Biblical traditions made such religious ceremonies unlikely, if not impossible. No doubt there are liberal ministers who would perform such ceremonies. But their congregations may not have caught up with the new thinking.

The first male couple "affirmed their partnership" at the parents' home of one of the partners. A Unitarian minister officiated at the ceremony. Unitarians, of course, are humanists who believe in total sexual freedom and reject the Bible's prohibitions against homosexuality, infidelity, premarital sex, and promiscuity. Humanists claim to have morals, but they have nothing to do with restricting sexual expression. And the word "sin" isn't even in their vocabulary.

The second male couple "affirmed their partnership" in the garden of their home, officiated by a Justice of the Peace. The third couple "affirmed their partnership" at their home in a "new age" ceremony that relied mainly on Buddhist thought. It was officiated by the sister of one of the partners. The concept of sin doesn't even exist in new age philosophy.

Same Sex "Divorce"
Now, we know that in America many marriages end in divorce. The high hopes of the marriage, with its commitments and affirmations, are wrecked on the shoals of infidelity, neglect, selfishness, alcoholism, and general incompatibility. Generally, it is the children who suffer most in such marriage break-ups. They usually love both parents and are torn by the need to be loyal to both while having to navigate the distance between them.

Same-sex commitments will face the same kind of disintegrating forces. Homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous, since sex plays such an important part in their lives. But just as newspapers hardly report on divorces of average heterosexual couples, they won't tell us about how long same-sex partnerships manage to last.

In order to be listed in the Boston Globe's Commitments section, same-sex couples "must have their partnerships affirmed in an officiated ceremony." And so, our liberal media has taken another step away from Biblical cultural and moral standards and extended the frontiers of humanist cultural hegemony over American society. Yet, even the BostonGlobe did not call these same-sex commitments "marriages." They are partnerships.

In Massachusetts there is a movement to have marriage defined in the state constitution as matrimony between a husband and wife, a union of a male and female. Webster's dictionary of 1850 defines marriage as "the act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the partners engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity until death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself, for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children."

That was the Christian definition of marriage acceptable to all Americans in the nineteenth century. Today, we are being urged to accept another definition, which includes same-sex partnerships. Although polls indicate that most Americans do not accept such partnerships as marriages, our progressive media is slowly working to change the attitudes of the American people. Their thinking is that today's population may reject same-sex marriages, but after the younger generation will have been duly "educated" in their humanist public schools, they will accept them. Christians who oppose them will be labeled intolerant bigots.

Christian Responses
Despite this pressure for liberal conformity, there is a growing movement among young Christians to promote abstinence before marriage and an enthusiastic acceptance of the traditional definition of wedlock. Courtship is replacing dating as the means of bringing young people together for future marriage and family building. Dating, as practiced in today's decadent youth culture, has been the cause of more social unhappiness and suffering than any other activity among the young. Jealous rage among spurned teenagers has led to physical abuse and even murder.

However, the pure Christian approach to marriage and family is bound to attract more and more young people who yearn for a clear vision of future happiness as lived in accordance with God's precepts. Thus, they want nothing to do with the depravity and destructiveness of today's mass youth culture.

Marriage, with all of its traditional trappings, is still extremely popular among Americans. All you have to do is pick up one of these phonebook-size bridal magazines to realize that women want marriage, not only for future happiness, but for all the material goodies that go with today's expensive, glamorous marriage ceremonies. Even discount merchants now feature Bridal Registries so that relatives and friends can buy gifts for the couple at moderate prices.

Weddings now require elaborate receptions in hotel ballrooms, complete with flowers, music ensembles, gourmet dinners, cocktails, photographers, limousines, etc. Marriage is big business in America, but same-sex "partnerships" do not as yet have the kind of commercial clout that warrants publishing fat magazines devoted to gay marriages. Perhaps the heterosexual magazines will set aside a special section for gay weddings. Which means that in some areas of the country with large gay communities, these elaborate receptions will become indispensable, or else it won't seem like a real marriage.

Topics: Family & Marriage, Culture , Apologetics, Theology

Samuel L. Blumenfeld

Samuel L. Blumenfeld (1927–2015), a former Chalcedon staffer, authored a number of books on education, including NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education,  How to Tutor, Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers, and Homeschooling: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Children

He spent much of his career investigating the decline in American literacy, the reasons for the high rate of learning disabilities in American children, the reasons behind the American educational establishment’s support for sex and drug education, and the school system's refusal to use either intensive phonics in reading instruction and memorization in mathematics instruction.  He lectured extensively in the U.S. and abroad and was internationally recognized as an expert in intensive, systematic phonics.  His writings appeared in such diverse publications as Home School DigestReasonEducation Digest, Boston Magazine, Vital Speeches of the DayPractical Homeschooling, Esquire, and many others.

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