Words are a part of everyday life. Without them people would have a very hard time conveying a message or showing their feelings to the people around them. Words also provide the groundwork on how we interpret what is expectable and what is not. Although only eight letters, the word marriage carries a lot of meaning for millions of people across the world. Depending on who ask, they might also have a definition of what they think marriage means. I myself define a marriage as a formal relationship between a man and a woman that last until death. The Merriam Webster dictionary on the other hand would define marriage as “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband and wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.” On the other hand, thousands of men and women are set out to redefine marriage to also include same sex relationships as well. For myself and I’m sure millions of others across the world they do not think that a simple definition can confine someone from living in a regular recognized marriage like everyone else. How we define a particular word can have lasting effects and for the gay and lesbian community restricting them from the same basic rights that everyday couples take advantage of. In this exploratory essay I am dedicated to exploring the contested term “marriage” between the gay and lesbian community and many other people that have their own definition of marriage as well. Because the age we live in now, the commonly accepted definition of marriage between a man and a woman is keeping tens of thousands of same-sex couples by being federally recognized in a union. So what is marriage and why does it matter how people define it? I first started with Peter Pothan who wrote an article called “The Christian Concept of Marriage”. Pothan is a theological teacher and is currently the Assistant Director of the Distance Learning Department of Southern Asia Bible College in Bangalore. He wastes no time clearly stating that he gets the definition of marriage from the bible. By referencing different parts of the Bible he is able to define what a Christian Marriage is and additional context as well. The first section that he references from the Bible is in Genesis 2:24. It states, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” By this Pathan concludes that a Marriage is between one man and one woman. Although he breaks the verse down into four parts, for this exploratory essay I want to focus the marriage portion on which I am better trying to understand. During Gods initial creation he only created one wife for Adam. Pothan uses this as a backbone that it is not only a relationship between a man and a woman, but it is also a monogamous relationship that must be maintained as well. Additionally, he uses biblical context to further go to say that marriage is only permanent as long as life last. Overall, Peter Pothan does not try to impose this Christian definition of marriage onto anyone, but merely uses evidence from the Bible to extract the definition of marriage. Several times during the article he consistently uses the Christian definition of marriage evoking that he is clearly not trying to impose a singular definition for the word. As a Christian myself I did find how he defined marriage very persuasive. He put very little opinion into interpreting what the Bible was saying and just tried to state the facts. I feel that most Christians would have a hard time disagreeing with what Pothan has to say. I also like he was not trying to impose the definition on anyone. Several times throughout the article he consistently use “Christian Marriage”. By this I felt that he clearly recognized that there is a dispute between what the definition of marriage truly is. On the other hand, I can also see one big hole is this definition. Although the Bible is very widely used and accepted across the world not everyone is a Christian. Many of those who are not of the Christians faith can easily discredit this definition. Just like many words over time they can slowly evolve and continue to mean more things. It would only make sense to some that the definition of marriage would do the same as well. Many gays and lesbians would also clearly have a hard time accepting this as a definition of marriage. To them this would imply that they are not capable of leaving their mothers and fathers and cleaving to their partner. Overall, I am still very much caught in the crossfire of what marriage should or should not include. By going with the Christian definition of marriage I am essentially supporting the idea of taking away freedoms that many same-sex couple are not able to enjoy like regular couples. This I have a hard time accepting. My next article, “GOP’s Rob Portman announces support for same-sex marriage” by Matthew DeLuca is on the opposite end of the spectrum when it views the definition of marriage. Matthey Deluca, a writer for NBC News writes about Rob Portman’s view on marriage. The Ohio Senator Portman’s once hard stance that marriage is defined as a between a man and a women now has a change of views. At one point he even supported the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which limits marriage specifically to one man and one woman. In this article, the Ohio Senator states that “I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.” He describes his change of views based on his 21-year-old son. In a talk with his son in 2011, his son, Will, told his father that he was gay. Portman not only said that his change of heart was due to his son, but also his Christian faith. He says the message of love and compassion from the Bible is also what swayed him to change his mind on this particular issue. This article shows how the definition of marriage can be based on equal rights that many feel everyone should have. As a result, the definition of marriage would have to be extended. Looking at this article, I feel somewhat drawn into Senator Portman’s view of marriage and how the definition should evolve to reflect the culture of America. It is more than just about a definition, but a way to make everyone equal under the law. With the way marriage is right now that is not possible. Same-sex couples that want to take the next step to a recognized marriage are not given the same rights that others couples receive. Portman, a Christian like myself, did choose to take a different angle on how he looks at the Bible. That just goes to show that there are people that are Christians that also support same-sex marriages and essentially want to change the definition of marriage to reflect a greater assortment of couples wanted to seek a civil union. Although I do understand where Senator is coming from I can’t say I fully agree that you can just change the definition of a word because of personal experience that was experienced. My last source I chose was an article called “Same-Sex Marriage and Equality” by Reginald William. This scholarly source was published on December 21, 2010. Williams is an affiliate of Bakersfield College that contests the views that many have that same-sex marriage is not an equal rights issue. I came across this article using the University of Oklahoma online library. William talks about several individuals and their views in particular that same-sex marriage is a not an equality issue. He describes that many claim this because both heterosexuals and homosexuals are not allowed to get married to the same gender. They are on the other hand “both” allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex. Williams describes this idea as a basis for many that say this is not an equality issue. William on the other hand disagrees and fully thinks this is still very much about the lack of equality and supports same-sex marriage. Throughout his article he goes into painstaking detail to support his claim. In short, he says although the same rights are available to everyone, the rights available are only truly for heterosexuals couples. Although his claim is somewhat hard to grasp, I feel he overall makes some very important points that support the fact that there is a lack a social equality for same-sex couples. The question that is of real concern though is should this constitute us to redefine the term marriage so that same-sex couples can get married and be federally recognized. I have definitely learned that the definition of marriage matters greatly to the people you ask and it is more than a word that is used in a sentence. It not only has a strong definition that lasted through time, but as of right now is keeping many same-sex couples from being able to be apart of a civil union recognized by our government. Reviewing all of these sources and really letting the point the writers have sink in has made me consider many thoughts that I have not considered before. Although I do strongly believe that the definition of marriage should not change, I do feel that the people affected by the definition of marriage, such as same-sex couples, should have the same rights as a regular marriage if they choose. To me this is not about definitions at all by equal rights. Although I am sure many same-sex couples would like to be included in the definition of marriage, what they really want is to have the same benefits in their relationship as a heterosexual couple does. Even though many states have already started this journey for same-sex couples they are still far from putting them on the same playing field as a traditional definition of marriage and the rights they receive at the federal level.
Williams, Reginald. "Same-Sex Marriage and Equality." Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14.5 (2011): 589-95. Web.
DeLuca, Matthew. "GOP 's Rob Portman Announces Support for Same-sex Marriage." NBC News. N.p., 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
Pothan, Peters S. "The Christian Concept of Marriage." 2miles.org. N.p., Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
Cited: Williams, Reginald. "Same-Sex Marriage and Equality." Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14.5 (2011): 589-95. Web. DeLuca, Matthew. "GOP 's Rob Portman Announces Support for Same-sex Marriage." NBC News. N.p., 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. Pothan, Peters S. "The Christian Concept of Marriage." 2miles.org. N.p., Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.