At the heart of the marriage debate are two very different views of marriage. The view of most same-sex ‘marriage’ advocates is that marriage primarily satisfies the desires of the adults involved. On the other hand, the historical view is that marriage is a public good, not solely designed towards the satisfaction of adult desires. It is the place that children do best, and have the best chance of growing into the responsible citizens every society needs. In short, marriage is the fabric of society.
Today in the Public Discourse, Andrew T. Walker discusses marriage as it relates to community and kinship:
The needs and goods of the political community define the reciprocal nature of natural marriage. The political community needs marriage because it is, according to James Q. Wilson, “a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.” Marriage also gives order (goods) by fashioning bonds of community that foster connection to family, neighborhood, and society.
When speaking about the uniquely child-centered nature of marriage, we need to be equally adamant that marriage is a socially-centered institution. While marriage is a good in itself, marriage’s ontological nature is intimately linked to its social purpose.
If we grant kinship’s centrality to marriage, same-sex relationships not only fail as to what constitutes a marriage, but same-sex relationships also fail the kinship test. Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships enacts a legal fiction that the organic contours of society neither intuitively recognize nor posit. Same-sex marriage does not contribute to the kinship model. If natural marriage bestows life in way that is socially-oriented and centrifugal, then we might say that same-sex marriage is centripetal. In same-sex marriage, the emotional, non-generative unions of adults become the center.
Read more on the Public Discourse here.