In the marriage debate, people frequently argue that how one chooses to define marriage doesn't affect other people's definitions of marriage, and because my definition is as good as yours, it should also be promoted by society.
Many times it is stated: "What I choose to do in my marriage doesn't affect your marriage." However, same-sex marriage affects all of our marriages.
First, to explain, private actions have public effects. All our actions, both private and public, define our identity. Being human, we are motivated to impart our identity to future generations. As we have seen, and understandably so, people in homosexual relationships are trying to change society to more readily embrace and promote their view of their identity. This is possible largely due to the disassociation between sexual relationships and procreation.
In contrast, there are many who have not disassociated sex and children, and for reasons both secular and religious have incorporated heterosexual relationships into their identity. These people have generally been trying to live up to the ideal that marriage was established millennia ago to promote the raising of children in safe environments supported by their biological parents.
Sadly, we don't always live up to this ideal, and most have experienced the trauma caused by a breaking family. However, we know of marriages that practically achieve the ideal, and we see the happiness that children find in a supportive family structure. Even though some traditional families are breaking, it doesn't mean the ideal of traditional marriage is broken.
Many studies show that single parents struggle to provide the safe environment provided by a two-biological-parent home. Bless the single parents who try, but there is a direct correlation between single homes and crimes of all types. If anything, the effects of broken homes indicate the importance of reestablishing the ideal of traditional marriage.
Same-sex marriage falls short of producing safe environments for children because it, at the very least, reinforces changes to the marital definition. Historically, before the sexual revolution, society's definition of marriage was focused on the raising and bearing of children. A man married a woman; they had children, and did practically everything around the raising of those children. The interests of a parent became tertiary to the interests of their children and their spouse.
Currently, as a society, we have wavered from this traditional motivation, and many, not all, view marriage as a venue for self-fulfillment. This modern view is directly culpable for the rise in broken homes and its resulting negative effects. Because same-sex marriage is made possible by this modern view of marriage, if we make same-sex marriage equivalent to traditional marriage, we only more firmly impart to future generations that marriage is about personal fulfillment. The cementing of the modern view will only continue its destruction of safe environments for future generations.
For many of us who favor traditional marriage, marriage is about raising children in a healthy environment. Thus, any change to the definition of marriage affects our marriage. Our "traditional" marriages and the children they produce are our greatest source of happiness, and we desire that our children will live in a world that will promote their ability to make the same choices that brought us happiness.
There are many who tout the modern definition, and we are susceptible to these influences. As we listen to these influences, we change our view of marriage and our marital relationship accordingly. Same-sex marriage will only increase these influences and make it harder to promote traditional marriage.
Although not all are able to participate in a traditional marriage that yields children, we all benefit by its establishment in creating strong homes for the next generation with strong direction from self-sacrificing parents. The disestablishment of this ideal affects us all.
Riley Balling, of Prior Lake, is an attorney. To read more marriage amendment commentaries, go here. Also, the Opinion section is launching a newsletter this fall. Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/kJ1b61