Actual Discussion on Marriage

Pat Crowley offered a pleasant surprise by actually making a counter-point in response to my recent post on encouraging marriage:

Because apparently now the law tells married couples that your ability to marry is relative to your ability to create children. Which makes many marriages, mine included, some how null and void. After all, my wife and I are deliberately choosing not to have children ( I have 3 from a prior marriage but that is a WHOLE ‘nother story). We must be somehow flaunting our liberty to interpret the reason behind the law as we see fit by not reproducing. And what about couples who want to have kids but can’t? And what about adoption? Are people who are married but adopt somehow exploiting a loophole in the law, thus violating the intent? Are they adoptive couples really still married or are they also re-defining the institution by adopting instead of conceiving?

Not to muddy the waters by quipping toward the issue of abortion, but I wonder whether a broader inference could be derived from Crowley’s apparent understanding of the notion of choice. By his own admission, his failure to procreate with his current wife is a freely chosen decision, which means that, even if he were correctly understanding my argument, his marriage would not be “null and void,” because he and his spouse have the ability to have children. Should they change their minds, or should their birth control method fail, they are already in the relationship into which society ought to prefer that children be born. For similar reasons, the notion of sterility is inadequate as a contradiction of my construct, because sterility is generally not known to be a problem until the couple is already attempting to have children, in which case, again, we want them to be married.
Be that as it may, Crowley makes a common error to the degree that he’s actually attempting to understand the opposing side. Marriage is inherently related (“relative” implies degrees of marriage) to the “ability to create children” inasmuch as it has until recently been limited to those pairings that tend toward that end. Men and women tend to create children when they’re intimate together, so limiting marriage to relationships that include one of each draws that line.
That a couple does not procreate, by choice or by inability, does not affect the cultural understanding of their relationship type. This is how the culture works — on the basis of principles. Principles are not like the law — which operates on the basis of rules — in that mild contradictions or variations don’t represent a break.
(As for his comments on Charles Murray: It’s apparent that Crowley has never read the Bell Curve, which did not put forward the argument that he attributes to it.)

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Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
14 years ago

Let’s take Crowley’s position to the extreme, and say that gay marriage is so f’n beautiful, that that’s all there was – only gay marriage. We’d have a little problem now, wouldn’t we??? As in, life would cease to exist. So I guess it really isn’t that beautiful after all, now is it? Even in small doses, it is illogical. I don’t mind calling it something else. But marriage it is not. I guess I could start calling my cat a dog, and my dog a cat, but that would really be stupid too, now wouldn’t it? The notion of gay marriage is stupid, too.

John Howard
14 years ago

Well, what about a brother and sister, or pubescent teenagers? They have the ability to have children, but we don’t let them marry. We only let couples marry if we approve of them having children, whether they are able to or not. If we prohibit a couple from having children, we never let them marry.
This is relevant now because we need to prohibit people from attempting to create children with someone of their own sex, using genetically modified stem-cell derived gametes. The question of whether or not to allow same-sex marriage is then the same question of whether or not to allow same-sex conception. If we allow it, we should allow marriage. If we don’t allow it, if we conclude that it is unethical and do not approve of same-sex couples attempting to have children, then we should not allow marriage. We should not strip conception rights from marriage and make it possible to prohibit a married couple from attempting to procreate together using their own genes.

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