Sunday, February 7, 2010

ZenTiger Marriage can be anything you want it to be

[Please read the whole post, or none of it. The ideas I begin with are not those I end with.]

A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counter-intuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

The only evolution happening here is a continuation of easy divorce - the ongoing destruction of the family, a focus on the partners and not the children.

The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners...“With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”

It might be great that you can decide "unto death do us part" and yet skip the bit on vowing faithfulness, monogamy and fidelity. When there aren't children involved, there can be a lot more latitude in a relationship. Children involve focusing on something much bigger than your own desires.  They involve something bigger than self-love, a love that puts yourself second and yet is one freely given.  They involve responsibility.

A couple since 2002, they opened their relationship a year ago after concluding that they were not fully meeting each other’s needs. But they have rules: complete disclosure, honesty about all encounters, advance approval of partners, and no sex with strangers — they must both know the other men first. “We check in with each other on this an awful lot,” said James, 37.

That's all very fine until one day James says "No, you are spending more time with him, and not enough with me." What then? Probably another evolution - Chris simply ends the relationship and moves on, if he values "the meeting of his needs" more than the intimacy of a relationship that is underpinned by committment.

Except that all this so called evolution is really devolution. Things don't always get better. Some things age and decay. We are seeing this in the institution that is marriage, and that in itself is only a mirror, reflecting the institution of the family.

I personally don't care one way or other about "gay marriage". If two people want to live together, good for them. If they need that to be publicly declared, then if they find the right words, they may as well say what they think they are doing.

This study however, shows that at least half of gay marriages requires an "evolution" in the meaning of marriage to suit their preferred lifestyle. I really wonder why it is so important to have both?

Anyway, that really isn't the core issue.

What is the issue is the well-being of the family as an institution in society. It too, is devolving. Single parent families are increasingly common, as are families split across separated parents. Easy divorce and adultery has done more damage to families than the gay marriage debate, but those topics are harder to talk about given the amount of people personally affected by this.

It's hard to have a rational discussion using absolutes when so many of us have found valid reasons combined with human fallibility to break those absolutes. That kind of conversation requires a degree of respect for our imperfections that is hard to achieve in a public forum.  I think this is partly because society increasingly places hypocrisy as a greater crime than the action that causes it.  That's a rant for another post though.

As society continues to accept the thrust that marriage as an institution can be reshaped to be anything people want it to be, until it is essentially a placeholder for any current relationship based on a firm and uncompromising commitment renewable weekly by mutual agreement, we need to think about the value in encouraging families to stay together.

It used to be implicit in the idea of marriage. That ideal was destroyed many years ago, as it has been in previous times in history.

I wonder if a Church marriage, a marriage by covenant, can forge the way to recapture the essence of a family and the recognition of the love shown from acceptance of duty, responsibility and committment?

If religious freedom is protected, then Catholics hold the copyright to a "Catholic Marriage". Couples fronting up to a Catholic Marriage should not get the option of skipping the "monogamy part", and should not get the option of easy divorce.

Like any unique product offering in a market, the scarcity will attract the kind of buyers willing to pay the price. Like any purchase of a quality product, the value is remembered long after the price forgotten*.

I think the fight to define marriage in such a way as to protect the institution of the family is lost.   The word "marriage" is lost to those that wanted an ideal to be enshrined in a single word.

However, there is an opportunity for the Catholic Church to hold onto and fight for the institution of a Catholic Marriage, and that would only cause the Church to grow in stature and relevance to all seeking an affirmation of their matrimonial vows and the nature of the family.

Henceforth, I shall refer to my marriage as a "Catholic Marriage", and I shall rely on the Pope, as spokesperson for the church to uphold the copyright on those words, and to protect the brand.  He can only do this if we Catholics continue to strive for the ideals enshrined in those words.

Gay Marriage - Weak vows make for a strong marriage

Hat tip: Life Site News - Rampant polygamy in Gay Marriage a benefit?

* I deliberately use economic terms here, only because so many liberals relate to the world in this way.  That's another post :-)

2 comment(s):

bez said...

The idea of a 'covenant marriage' is not new, and it is in fact available in some states in the US. Its success is not great by any means. If you simply google the term you'll find plenty of information.
The problem with your idea is that 'Catholic Marriage' in its traditional format was placed in a context that was derived from canon law, which is largely incompatible with the common law/legislature that has developed since the reformation. (The actual developments are of course much more complicated, but for now that simplification will do). In fact, canon law was not as strict in respect of marriage as many think, and it included some pretty clear and unambiguous rules to deal with many of the situations that now invariably lead to much confusion and personal tragedy.

ZenTiger said...

Thanks Bez. I'd not be surprised that the success rate for non-Catholic churches would be any better than a standard marriage, as I doubt they would be implementing the concept with the benefit of the ZenTiger List of Criteria (TM). I'll cover that at a later point.

As for my ideas on 'Catholic Marriage', that too will have to wait for another post.

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