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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Preserving the sanctity of marriage? Think again.


Jesse James destroyed it; Charlie Sheen made a mockery of it; Britney Spears shot-gunned it; and Larry King has pulled his trigger on it seven times. You can probably guess that what I’m talking about, in all its profound beauty, is your modern American wedding. People marry for all kinds of reasons, whether for convenience, out of logic or common lifestyle, or because there’s suddenly a beautiful little bundle of baby on the way. Whatever the reason may be, it seems that all too often what is missing is real, undying love and the true commitment to everything that marriage is.

However, I’m not going to continue this as a cynical rant about the outrageous divorce rate in the US or the reasons why marriages don’t last. As someone who has watched my parents, married for 27 years, fall more and more in love with each other all the time, I fully believe in the beauty and importance of marriage. What I do not believe in, however, are the legal restrictions that make such a profound bond inaccessible to certain members of society.

The other day I was talking to a student who is not only active in community service but also passionate about social issues ranging from homelessness in LA to protecting child soldiers in Uganda. While in conversation, he said something in passing that really bothered me. What he happened to mention was his devotion to Christianity and thus his support of Proposition 8. If you aren’t aware of what Prop 8 was, which I’m sure you are, it was a provision to the Constitution in 2008 that declared only marriages between a man and woman legally recognized in California. So here was this student, going on and on about his passion for making the world a better place but all I could think about was the fact that he was in staunch support of such a blatantly oppressive measure. Naturally, I asked him about it. I asked him how it made sense for him to be so passionate about the liberation of certain individuals while at the same time supporting the oppression of others. His answer? After a pause and a furrow of the brow, which I am assuming was out of shock, he said this: “Well… um… I mean the sanctity of some things just has to be preserved and one of those things is marriage.”

Okay, seriously? What I have the most trouble understanding is why that always has to be the answer. “The sanctity of marriage must be preserved.” Does anybody actually think about what that means or do they just spit it out because it’s the textbook answer? Here’s the truth: the sanctity of marriage is not going to be destroyed by a man and a man or a woman and a woman marrying each other. Men and women who cheat on each other, who resort to dishonesty to avoid their real problems, and who disregard the vow that they made when they had faith in love on their wedding day: these are the vices that “destroy” the “sanctity” of marriage every day. The point isn’t to shake a finger at failed marriages but to rather highlight the fact that we are all human. We love, we fail, we get hurt, we make mistakes, and regardless of what type of person we love there is the hope of forever but the possibility of an end. I’m not being cynical, just real. It’s a reality that we must face and a reality that deserves to be fought for. Marriage is rooted in a deep bond of love and should be, without a doubt, celebrated. However, the exclusivity of such a union is not only unjust but also counterintuitive to what love is. Marriage is an absolute celebration of love that must be accessible to everyone, regardless of who they are or who they love. To those who claim that marriage between two men or women would be the absolute end to the “sanctity” of marriage, I urge them to take an open-eyed look at the state of marriage in our country today and to think again. Forget what religion tells you for a second and pay attention to what your humanity tells you. To those who boast doing good for humanity in pursuit of “peace” while still supporting the oppression of certain groups, I wish they would realize that we can only attempt to reach such “peace” through working for justice—which means justice and liberation for every person in this country. If you really and truly think about these things, analyze the concepts, and try to see different viewpoints—if you do this and you still emerge with the same beliefs— then I commend you for using your own intellect rather than blindly following in someone’s footsteps.

So yes, clearly I do think that restricting marriage to certain groups is oppressive and is a fight worth taking on. However, I think the point here goes deeper than that. I do not wish to condemn any religion for its beliefs or practices but rather emphasize the importance of thinking critically for oneself. The issues that our country and our world face are many and they depend on our abilities to be responsible global citizens. Such responsibility entails opening our eyes and being brave enough to question oppressive “tradition” and change the world in the way that we want to see it progress. As Desmond Tutu once said, “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others."

Mallory Massie

2 Comments:

Blogger Editorial Staff said...

Mallory,
An educated, insightful, and realistic view on a topic that is so tired and often the subject of irrational or even ridiculous discussions. I'm with ya girl!
-Kelsey Laubscher

April 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger TZONE said...

WoW! And fast forward to May 2012, the president is announcing these same sentiments and this is seems to be the ONE thing that may hurt his re-election...SERIOUSLY!? I get sick when I hear others pontificate how marriage should be bewtween man and a woman but don't acknowledge the fact the infidelity, divorce, and other things hurt marriage...not same gender unions. Then to justify their feelings, they refer to the bible as support. You can't pick and choose various points in the bible to validate why it is so. If that were the case, the 10 commandments would make this world a better place. Oh...bt that's different..

May 14, 2012 at 7:10 AM  

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