Marriage...What's in it for Me?
- 2006 31 Oct
No issue this year looms larger than marriage and the fight to define what marriage will be for the next generation.
All sorts of arguments fly through the air. What is fair? Who is going to get or lose health insurance? Who won't be able to get married? Who will? Why should government care who gets married?
There are lots of questions and lots of arguments. But there is really only one agenda pushing them all. This is about certifying same-sex marriage as an equivalent to traditional marriage.
Will I get to wear a wedding ring? Will I get health insurance? Will my relationship be validated as special by the government? Why does it matter who or what I am when I get married?
There are lots of questions and lots of arguments. But they are only branches of the same tree. Marriage ... what's in this for me?
My, myself and I ... will I be allowed to get all the "stuff" that belongs to marriage?
But wait. Since when did marriage focus on "getting"? This is a modern invention.
Since when did marriage focus on "me, myself, and I?" This is a modern concoction.
If this is only about me, and if it's only about what I get out of it, then I am the only tree in the forest.
This is an odd way to think about a relationship that only survives out of a desire to be a sacrificial servant to another person. Foundationally, marriage is about giving up my right to be the only tree in the forest.
When we marry, with our attention focused outwards, looking at the other trees in the forest, it is our interest in the future of the forest that lets us see the seedlings just pushing up out of the soil and beginning to grow. If this is about me, myself, and I ... then seedlings don't matter.
If this is about me, myself, and I, then ... when I am gone, the forest will be gone. But that won't matter. Who needs seedlings? I won't be around to see it. And because the forest was only about me anyway, that will be just fine.
At the heart of the heated arguments about marriage, we need to step back from the trees and see the forest. Are we building a society of individual trees? Or are we building a society that nurtures seedlings?
Marriage, when properly focused, is about a larger society that flourishes because it nurtures the smaller family society that is raising the next generation. It is not an arbitrary definition contrived to allow me to qualify for wedding rings and insurance.
Marriage is focused on the sacrificial relationship between a man and a woman for a logical reason. This is the relationship out of which children are born and raised. If children don't flourish under the care of their parents, they will lose ... we will all lose.
Government defines marriage and sets it aside as a unique relationship because of its significance for our children ... for our future. Marriage is not a random definition created by legislators. It is a relationship of importance, a relationship that matters for the sake of the preservation of the forest.
If we are going to build a forest, then our laws best be about what is good for our children. Marriage matters. Mothers and fathers united in stable relationships defined by a focus on creating a nurturing environment for their children ... this has always been the focus of a society that cares about the future.
Me, myself, and I will never create a seedling. I may be a very pretty tree. But I won't live forever. And I will never be more than a forest of one tree.
A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (firstname.lastname@example.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled "From the Home Front." Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.