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Argument: Marriage is mainly for reproduction; can't include gays

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Extended argument

Throughout history, regardless of religion, ALL societies from primitive to developed have established some form of marriage to reproduce new generations of people. The fabric of society is woven by marriages producing new families with new children, which are nurtured, educated, and developed by a mother and a father into productive members of that society, who then reproduce, in kind, the next generation, each gender becoming a respective mother or father. To the degree that a society or civilization can REPRODUCE good healthy families, it will prosper. This depends on reproducing, not only children, but reproducing good fathers and good mothers by developing role model fathers and role model mothers.

Supporting quotations

Susan M. Shell. "The liberal case against gay marriage." Public Interest. Summer of 2004: "A husband is, until otherwise proven, the acknowledged father of his wife's off-spring, with recognized rights and duties that may vary from society to society but always exist in some form. And a wife is a woman who can expect a certain specified sort of help from her husband in the raising of her off-spring. All other functions of marriage borrow from or build upon this one. Even marriage among those past child-rearing age or otherwise infertile draws on notions of partnership and mutual aid that have their primary roots in the experience of shared biological parenthood...Disputes over fatherhood, for example, or variations in parental attachment to their children, make it reasonable for societies to supplement and sometimes override the natural bonds established by and through the processes of human generation. Marriage is, before all else, the practice by which human societies mark, modify, and occasionally mask these bonds.

[...] The deeper phenomenal differences between heterosexual and homosexual relations are hard to specify precisely. Still, these differences seem sufficiently clear to prohibit gay marriage without denying gays equal protection under the laws. Gay relations bear a less direct relation to the generative act in its full psychological and cultural complexity than relations between heterosexual partners, even when age, individual preference, or medical anomaly impede fertility. Gay relations have a plasticity of form, an independence from natural generation, for which they are sometimes praised, but which, in any case, also differentiates them from their heterosexual counterparts. No heterosexual couples have such freedom from the facts of generation, which they can limit and control in a variety of ways but can never altogether ignore. Intimate heterosexual partners realize that they might generate a child together, or might once have done so. This colors and shapes the nature of their union in ways that homosexual love can imitate, and possibly even transcend, but cannot share in fully."

[...]Restriction of marriage to heterosexual couples gives reasonable recognition to the peculiar importance and solemnity of generation and a related complex of human experiences."


Adam Kolasinksi. "The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage." The Tech (M.I.T.) February 20th, 2004: "Some argue that the link between marriage and procreation is not as strong as it once was, and they are correct. Until recently, the primary purpose of marriage, in every society around the world, has been procreation. In the 20th century, Western societies have downplayed the procreative aspect of marriage, much to our detriment. As a result, the happiness of the parties to the marriage, rather than the good of the children or the social order, has become its primary end, with disastrous consequences. When married persons care more about themselves than their responsibilities to their children and society, they become more willing to abandon these responsibilities, leading to broken homes, a plummeting birthrate, and countless other social pathologies that have become rampant over the last 40 years. Homosexual marriage is not the cause for any of these pathologies, but it will exacerbate them, as the granting of marital benefits to a category of sexual relationships that are necessarily sterile can only widen the separation between marriage and procreation."


Margarette Somerville. "The case against gay marriage." McGill Center for Medicine, Ethics and Law. April 29, 2003: Marriage is, and has been for millennia, the institution that forms and upholds for society, the cultural and social values and symbols related to procreation. That is, it establishes the values that govern the transmission of human life to the next generation and the nurturing of that life in the basic societal unit, the family. Through marriage our society marks out the relationship of two people who will together transmit human life to the next generation and nurture and protect that life. By institutionalizing the relationship that has the inherent capacity to transmit life — that between a man and a woman — marriage symbolizes and engenders respect for the transmission of human life. (What such respect now requires has become an unprecedented issue in light of recent advances in reprogenetic technology. I discuss that shortly.)

To change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would destroy its capacity to function in the ways outlined above, because it could no longer represent the inherently procreative relationship of opposite-sex pair-bonding. It would be to change the essence and nature of marriage as the principal societal institution establishing the norms that govern procreation. Marriage involves public recognition of the spouses’ relationship and commitment to each other. But that recognition is for the purpose of institutionalizing the procreative relationship in order to govern the transmission of human life and to protect and promote the well-being of the family that results. It is not a recognition of the relationship just for its own sake or for the sake of the partners to the marriage, as it would necessarily become were marriage to be extended to include same-sex couples.

People advocating same-sex marriage argue that we should accept that the primary purpose of marriage is to give social and public recognition to an intimate relationship between two people, and, therefore, to exclude same-sex couples is discrimination. They are correct if the primary purpose of marriage is to protect an intimate pair-bond. But they are not correct if its primary purpose is to protect the inherently procreative relationship of opposite-sex pair-bonding or to protect an intimate relationship for the purposes of its procreative potential. When marriage is limited to opposite-sex couples, there is no need to choose between these purposes, because they are compatible with each other and promote the same goal. The same is not true if marriage is extended to include same-sex couples. That would necessarily eliminate marriage’s role in symbolizing and protecting the procreative relationship. We now need the procreative symbolism of marriage more than in past, because of new technoscience possibilities for transmitting life, if we believe that, ethically, there should be limits on the use of these technologies."


Robert George. "One man one woman." Wall Street Journal. November 28, 2003: "the 'rational basis' for understanding marriage as the covenantal commitment of a man and a woman. Chief among these are the nature of marriage as a "one-flesh union" of sexually complementary spouses, and its value in ensuring that most children are reared with a biological mother and father bound to each other in a covenant shaped by moral obligations of fidelity and exclusivity."


David Blankenhorn. "Protecting marriage to protect children." LA Times. September 19, 2008: "Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children."

In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other.

These days, because of the gay marriage debate, one can be sent to bed without supper for saying such things. But until very recently, almost no one denied this core fact about marriage. Summing up the cross-cultural evidence, the anthropologist Helen Fisher in 1992 put it simply: "People wed primarily to reproduce." The philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of conventional sexual morality, was only repeating the obvious a few decades earlier when he concluded that "it is through children alone that sexual relations become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution."

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