Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Words Matter

Today I noticed an item online that signaled another subversion of the moral framework necessary for a free and well-ordered society. Apparently, some new marriage certificates are being issued with the category, "Opposite-Sex Marriage."

In our PC world, various elites will simply say that this is a way of equalizing all adult unions, so what is the problem?

The problem is that there is a best way to define marriage: one man and one woman. Anthropology, biology, history, psychology and sociology all support the superiority of this model. Though I affirm the sanctity of marriage as a Biblical Christian, I do not need to appeal to religious texts to make my case.

The vast majority of Americans - of all faiths or none - intuitively know what marriage is. An almost equal number are willing to support other types of domestic partnerships. Private and public organizations and legal systems all confirm the mutual responsibilities of adults living together.

This is not as essay on marriage. This is an essay on the power of words and the implications for society when words change their meaning and are redefined by particular interests.

History demonstrates that words are redefined over time. An 18th or 19th century "liberal" believed in capitalism, free-trade, and small government. Once these became part of the cultural fabric early in the 20th century, they became "conservative" values pitted against the rising tide of Marxism.

In the West, "tolerance" has evolved from, "I won't kill you" in the 16th century, to "You are welcome to your private convictions" in the 17th-18th century, to the breakthrough in liberty enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is great progress, and our nation has been an inspiring experiment in how we can live peacefully with our deepest differences.

But is the late 20th and early 21st century, "tolerance" has devolved into, "You must affirm alternative moral positions even if they violate deeply-held convictions." When I state my objections to redefining marriage, I am libeled as "homophobic." I am accused of intolerance and "forcing my beliefs" on others.

The intolerance of my opponents far exceeds any narrowness on my side. By compelling me to agree with a position that violates both empirical data and deeply-held moral beliefs, I am the one being coerced, not the other way around!

"Opposite-Sex Marriage" is a categorical shift that paves the way for normalizing all adult unions as marriage. Again, let me be clear: I affirm the right of adults to arrange their domestic affairs within the bounds of civil order. That is not the same thing as affirming the morality of every action or allowing marriage to be redefined.

In our government documents, we need three categories: single, married and domestic partner. Though I believe it is best when singles are celibate and that men and women live in lifelong monogamous union, I will not impose that "demand" on others, provided my opponents will not impose their redefinitions on an unsuspecting society that intuitively knows what marriage should be.

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