There can be no meaning apart from roots. –Walter Brueggemann

For astute cultural observers, nothing about the recent SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage should be surprising. Though there was widespread popular opposition to redefining marriage as recently as 10 years ago and though 30 states voted on and passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, there was still an inevitability to what happened in 2014. This was no triumph of big government or judicial activism going against the popular opinion of the people. As the Onion noted, the question wasn’t whether marriage would be redefined in the USA, but merely when.

In the aftermath of this decision conservatives should focus less on the question of same-sex marriage itself and more around the issue of how something considered a categorical impossibility for much of human history has come to seem not only possible, but an essential part of a just society for most of our peers.

A related question that must also be addressed is why the arguments we have made (and strong cases have been made) have so little purchase with our peers. Why is same-sex marriage so intuitively logical to them and why are the arguments against it so odd and implausible?

Some critics have noted that the cultural shift we have seen on same-sex marriage has been years in the making. The rise of no-fault divorce as well as the changes brought about by widely available contraception have, no doubt, played a major role in this shift—and both of those changes date back to the 1950s and 1960s. But even that response is an inadequate and incomplete account of the problem that has led to the popular acceptance of same-sex marriage.

The Brueggemann quote above hints at an answer. You can have no meaning apart from roots. While other critics have done well to note how contraception and no-fault divorce have changed marriage in America, I’ve yet to read anyone who has noted how the industrial economy changed home in America. And home, of course, is the place where families grow and live out their lives.

In a pre-industrial society, home carried with it certain key ideas. It was the place where a husband and wife cultivated a life and family together. Home is where the husband would practice his trade (note “trade” rather than “career”) either by working in the fields on the family farm or by laboring in a workshop or study located somewhere in the house. (Princeton theologian Charles Hodge had his study set in the middle of the family home so that his children would pass in and out throughout the day. He even had the latch on the door removed and put the door on a loose spring so that even the smallest child could enter at any time.) The wife, for her part, shared an equal part in the creation of the home, assisting with the husband’s trade work as needed while also maintaining the rest of the house and providing in more direct ways for the children. Neither one of them had a career in the typical sense of the term; rather they both shared a home and shared the work of creating that home.

Home, in this understanding, was an entire economy unto itself. Much of the goods needed for its continued existence were grown or made on-site and what things did require money were paid for from money earned through work done in the home. The life of the home was self-sustaining. This economic reality complements the classical idea that the family is the fundamental community on which all others are built.

What’s more, the work of the home was not only productive, but dignifying. It took time to acquire the skills needed to maintain such an economy and possessing those skills as an individual elicited a sense of honor and respect from one’s neighbors.

Finally, the economy of the home was a comprehensive economy, an economy big enough to comprehend all of life and recognize when factors other than strict financial considerations must be reckoned with.

With industrialism the economics of home-life began to shift. The father was first taken out of the home and into another separate place whose entire existence was oriented toward the generation of material wealth. Yet the economy of the factory was a truncated economy; it could know nothing of family, affection, or even history because it cared nothing for family, affection, or history. Its sole focal point was the bottom line on the owner’s spreadsheet. The economy in which human beings lived shrunk—and so human life has been forced to shrink in order to accommodate it.

Thus the husband and father was taken out of this functional and healthy (if financially limited) home economy and placed into an industrial economy that offered greater financial rewards while also removing the father from home life. Thus we began to develop the idea of men as a baser form of humanity that will, inevitably, behave badly unless they are chastened and redeemed by the fairer, more noble women who were unsullied by factory life and stayed home, creating and maintaining the domestic sphere.

Yet that could only be a temporary arrangement. It would last as long as the industrial economy did not have a solution for childcare and home maintenance. But once that was developed in the form of daycare centers and government schools it became inevitable that the women, likewise, would follow the men into the factory and later the office. The parallel rise of “labor-saving devices” which have rendered much of the art of place-making in the home into menial work likewise played a role in women following men in their abandonment of home life. We shouldn’t be surprised when women find home-life stultifying and repressive; through our economy we have done everything in our power to make it so. We have made the home little more than a consumption center and storage facility—so why should we expect anyone to find such a place an enjoyable place to spend one’s time?

The end result of this arrangement is best described by Wendell Berry in his marvelous essay “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine”:

Marriage, in what is evidently its most popular version, is now on the one hand an intimate “relationship” involving (ideally) two successful careerists in the same bed, and on the other hand a sort of private political system in which rights and interests must be constantly asserted and defended. Marriage, in other words, has now taken the form of divorce: a prolonged and impassioned negotiation as to how things shall be divided. During their understandably temporary association, the “married” couple will typically consume a large quantity of merchandise and a large portion of each other.

The modern household is the place where the consumptive couple do their consuming. Nothing productive is done there. Such work as is done there is done at the expense of the resident couple or family, and to the profit of suppliers of energy and household technology. For entertainment, the inmates consume television or purchase other consumable diversion elsewhere.

It’s essential that we understand the connection between the first paragraph and the second. The economy in which marriage has traditionally existed, in which natural marriage has made intuitive sense to people, is an economy oriented around fruitfulness and productivity in the home in which the family’s life arises naturally from the love of the husband and wife—literally in the form of children, but also seen in the physical fact of the home itself.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry may have said it best on Twitter:

This natural home economy has been entirely destroyed, replaced with a home that has ceased to be an economy in any sense of the term. And the economy we now have is one answerable only to the dollar and literally incapable of understanding anything else—and professing Christians have been at the center of this change.

The purpose of the American economy for at least the past 60 years and arguably for much longer has been to systematically dig up the roots of family life by destroying home life and replacing it with work life centered in a place other than the home and cordoned off from all concerns not immediately answerable to the almighty dollar.

What this means is that industrialism made a redefinition of marriage and home-life inevitable. Indeed, it’d be truer to say that industrialism redefined marriage decades ago by making it an essentially genderless relationship consisting of two careerists sharing resources they earned in their separate lives. It was merely a leftover Christian veneer that preserved natural marriage in the time since that initial redefinition took place.

Marriage in the USA long ago ceased to be an institution meant to solve the social problem of “how can we ensure that children are raised in a stable, loving home with their parents?” and instead became a set of legal privileges accorded to independent careerists who feel a strong emotional, social, or relational bond with each other. And this is why we are able to see both the presentation of strong arguments for natural marriage from smart folks like Ryan Anderson and the equal insistence that there are no persuasive arguments for natural marriage from smart folks like Damon Linker.

The meaning of marriage cannot be separated from the meaning of home—and conservative Christians have been party to the destruction of home for decades. The coming winter is merely the fruit we must reap for having sown in barren fields.

Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy, and son Wendell. Jake's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

  • Alastair J Roberts

    I’ve yet to read anyone who has noted how the industrial economy changed home in America. And home, of course, is the place where families grow and live out their lives.

    I first commented upon this back in 2011 in this article (followed up here and here):

    Following the Industrial Revolution, the household has been displaced as a centre of collaborative production, and largely reduced to a place of shared consumption. No longer serving the same economic functions, marriage was further changed as a growing accent on romance displaced procreation as a core purpose of sex within marriage and gave the sexual intimacy of the partners a far greater prominence. Those who get married will now tend to follow what has been termed the ‘hedonic model’, marrying on account of mutual attraction, shared interests, and consumption habits.

    I’ve also commented on it here.

    I guess the take away message from this is that you don’t carefully read my blog. I am hurt, Jake, hurt.

  • wmrharris

    Can the shift in marriage really be described from a neutral spot, as something that happens ‘to us?’ Are we not ourselves complicit?

    If the older forms of marriage have been dispensed with, it is largely occurred with our approval and participation. Simply put, such a reconstruction of marriage has benefited middle class Evangelicals. Moreover, to the degree that the root of the crisis lies in certain market and industrial ideologies (e.g. the celebration of choice, of the economic actor’s freedom, etc), the reluctance of the cultural warriors to take on these themes can be striking. Until we can address our complicity in the cultural drivers, we not likely to come in out of the cold anytime soon.

    • Anonymous

      I think the last two sentences of the article essentially state that.

  • Physiocrat

    It is certainly the case that the Industrial Revolution changed home life forever however it was certainly not necessary that homes became solely areas of consumption and not production, therefore boring for women. The post-industrial household can be a place of production if the couple has children: the nurturing and effective teaching of the children is a productive activity. This was torn away from the home not be necessity but by government deliberately subsidising large businesses through the free public school system and to atomise the family itself. Then came subsidised day care etc.

    Further government regulation (including zoning laws) has made it very difficult for families to run side line businesses selling cakes and other food etc by the ridiculous health and safety laws (most home kitchens would fail inspection despite no-one ever getting ill from them) which exist to protect incumbent businesses from competition. Then you have the public road network (intended originally to aid the military to deploy across the country) which served to make long distance commuting viable which again acted as subsidy for large firms. One of the problematic results of this was to create dormitory towns which break down the community since living and the general area of production are severed.

    Therefore a post-industrial household can in principle be a productive and interesting place to be. It just requires the lack of the above and a strong community network in which mothers have contact with each other rather than just being with their children in an isolated manner. The industrial revolution certainly brought some changes which were necessary according to its nature but we need to be careful not to conflate them with the contingent historical occurrences.

    Finally, the industrial revolution was a very good thing. The increase in physical productivity reduced poverty and increased man’s dominion of nature- a creation ordinance.

    • Haze

      I suspect the fact that few families run sideline businesses selling food has less to do with government regulation and more to do with other factors, particularly the market: it is difficult for a household to compete with major chains, and even with other small businesses (which themselves suffer alongside supermarkets etc.).

      • Physiocrat

        There are inherent advantages to an organised firm vs a household however they can survive in providing to different niches- also the household ought to have lower costs (no staff costs etc) so could compete on price. However the concentration of many markets to a few providers is due to high barriers to entry in the form of licences etc

    • bworei

      Exactly. I’m in my mid-forties. My Dad traveled quite a bit while my sister and I were kids, but he was very proactive in spending time with us when he was home. Mom was a homemaker, like every other mother on the street. We were active in our community and in our church. We turned out just fine: both in loving, long-term heterosexual marriages with kids who are also developing normally.

      I think the bottom line is that it may be more challenging to be a healthy family in the industrial world than it was before its advent, but it’s by no means impossible. As a previous poster wrote, it’s also quite easy to romanticize the pre-industrial world. There were some great elements, but there was also the hell of disease, etc that’s only a distant memory specifically because of the industrial revolution.

  • Ryan Stoner

    Wonderfully put Jake. Thanks for this whole piece. Also that essay by Berry is indeed magnificent.

  • James McClain

    Jake continues to hammer away at the evils of industrial society, and while I am sympathetic to much of what he says, one wonders what kind of alternative society he envisions. If unhindered choice in the marketplace is central to our presumed dilemma, who will take over that responsibility. Bear in mind that those who put capital at risk and work to produce what is needed and wanted may, by virtue of any number of choices, either do so with greater efficiency (primarily by reducing cost), or lesser (and likely lose share in the market). One must be able to show how these individual decisions made on the street, as it were, are unethical, or at lest tainted in a way as to produce our current dystopia. Is the computer technology we are utilizing in this dialogue a representation of a series of unethical and shortsighted decisions on the part of the thousands of decision-makers who produced it? Does Starbucks exist in the kind of ideal world envisioned here? And so on. While I agree that American style freedom can produce raunch, banality, and degradation, it seems a stretch to place a burden of proof on members of a free society to justify their decisions in creating the panoply of things we currently access. In order to create some kind of contour to the argument, one must show how it is that the collection of choices made by members of society are actually wrong or mis-guided. This is my frustration with Berryism; a lot of critique of result with little input as to how it is that all that stuff is the result of corrupt decision-making. For while total depravity is real, so is the image of God reflected in creative minds.

    I would add that Physiocrat makes a good argument as to how the political process tends to produce conditions that are less than desirable. Maybe another time.

  • Haze

    I definitely very much agree with your overall point, but there’s a couple of things you maybe need to be careful with. Firstly, the danger of overromanticising the past. Pre-industrial home life may have been dignifying for many people, but I’m not sure every family slaving away and seeing a great deal of what they produced go straight into funding a life of leisure for their landlord would have felt that way. Secondly, I’m not sure “the idea of men as a baser form of humanity that will, inevitably, behave badly unless they are chastened and redeemed by the fairer, more noble women” can be clearly linked to the Industrial Revolution; at the very least there are elements of this idea in literature from before then.

  • Kernel Kangaroo

    Thoughtful piece except for the end. Don’t appreciate the drive-by against con christians at the end. Did anyone have a choice about industrialism?

  • NJ987654

    None of this analysis is new, which isn’t to say that its unimportant.

    Adorno and Horkheimer made similar points about self-alienation in the 1940’s which, in turn, they got from the early Marx. Foucault pressed genealogical understandings in order to problematize what is and envision what could be. So it seems wise to ask under what conditions something becomes an object of knowledge. To this issue, the question “Why has sexual identity become an object of knowledge tied closely to the logic of Human Rights Discourse?” seems appropriate. As well as, “How has a Judeo-Christian logic supposed that the sexual passions/identities are something to be known, confessed, and controlled?” Foucault, for example, sees a conceptual fault line running from pastoral confessional practices to Freudian psychotherapy.

    Anyway, this is besides the point. What I find problematic with this essay is the suggestion that we should automatically embrace–as the author seems to do–a narrative of familial or overall moral decline. Formations of the subject change and exposing historical contingency is itself not an argument for whether or not something is good or bad.

  • Ethan Adkins

    I like this article a lot, and I am fully on board to reject industrialism where it does not submit to Jesus Christ, but I disagree with the beginning assumption that it was inevitable. The majority of states had already made a ban against same-sex marriage in the US. Whether those bans were for the right reasons is another matter.

  • Kernel Kangaroo

    So I have had the day to think about this. Does Industrialism explain the decline of marriage (put aside christian conservative’s participation which I think was cheap, the sharpest critique with the least explanation)? This isn’t the first time that a heterosexual ethic has come under pressure. After all you have Greece and Rome. This isn’t the first century where people have walked away from their marriages, after all what accounts for Jesus’ teachings on divorce and adultery? Furthermore, I don’t think the writer’s illustration of home life was a simple as he made it sound. I doubt preindustrial life was the nirvana as described with the mom cooking, the kids playing, a dad doing work in the center of the house watching his kids. No pre-industrial life was hard (as was industrial until 80 years ago). Chances are you were working in the fields before the sun came up and working till the sun went down. Tell me. What do you think pillow talk was like then? I think ever since God commanded man to go forth and multiply, the latter has been desirous to do the exact opposite.

  • The article above is nothing more than a reactionary response. We blame modernization for introducing conditions that led to a change in the perception of gender roles and are left to be consoled by a romantic yearning for the past. Here we might ask: Is industrialization is also responsible for woman’s suffrage? We should note that modernization came about because what was in the past was deemed inadequate. That doesn’t make modernization without sin, that simply should challenge our misconceptions of the past. In addition, the key culprit here is being overlooked. The key culprit in the same-sex marriage debate has been Christian privilege in society.

    Christianity’s claim to have the right to control society is really the problem here. For it isn’t as if homosexuality started with industrialization. And it isn’t as if the pre-industrial economy was without injustice. These two factors point to the conclusion that change itself is not guilty for society’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. But it seems that we prefer to wish away all inconvenient contradictions into paradoxes. For we have a society based on religious liberty while wanting it to be ruled by our religion’s values. And all this article has said is that under the economic conditions of the past, society would have accepted that contradiction. So modernization itself is at fault because we have the right to lord over society. It is as if we don’t recognize that we are playing the role of Adam when he blamed Eve for his sin.

    This is not to say that Industrialism is without sin. For industrialism simply carried over, and perhaps magnified, the sins of the past. Those sins revolved around oppression. In addition, if industrialism had changed anything, it should have challenged the American idea of individualism–what Francis Schaeffer might have attributed the idol of ‘personal peace’ to. But it didn’t, at least for those wanting to oppress others.

    It is our, that is religiously conservative Christians, desire to lord over society that should be the real issue we address in the same-sex marriage debate. For while maintaining that control, we demanded more from society than we had the right to. And losing that control has caused us to romanticize about the good old days because we are claiming that the sky is falling. Thus, the only conclusion that the outsider can draw from our behavior and words is that Christianity has become nothing more than an antique.

    • Keith T

      Bingo! You win the interwebs for today!

    • hoosier_bob

      Curt,

      While I largely agree with the legal reasoning of Obergefell, I’m not sure that you’ve accurately represented what Jake is saying here.

      One challenge for same-sex marriage lies with its apparent novelty. If this institution were merely arising from the fact that some percentage of the population are homosexuals, then I suspect that we would have observed it at a much earlier stage, i.e. centuries ago. So, it’s hard to sustain your thesis that the institution was merely being repressed by Christians. Marriage markets have never operated with complete efficiency in any society. Even so, if there were a long-standing market demand for this institution, then I would expect to have observed some push for it at much earlier stages in some culture in some place.

      To me, that suggests that the demand is artificial, meaning that it results from a temporal inefficiency in the market. I see Jake as postulating what that temporal inefficiency may be. I’m not sure that I agree with him entirely. I think it’s far more likely that the inefficiency results from 20th-Century efforts to try to manipulate the marriage market to favor marriages that conformed to a particular romantic-Freudian script. I favor same-sex marriage if only because it helps us move to a more explicitly contractual view of marriage–a view which will help uproot inefficiencies from the marriage market’s current operation. Once the inefficiencies are dislodged, I suspect that we’ll see same-sex marriage fade away.

      That’s why this conservative Christian isn’t too concerned about Obergefell. The Bible tells us about Jesus. The market tells us everything else. And, in my view, the market tells us that same-sex marriage won’y be too long-lived.

      • Bob,
        If there wasn’t a push for same-sex marriage sooner it is because of the marginalization that those in the LGBT community have suffered over the years. I can well remember when homosexuality was a crime. Would you expect a push for same-sex marriage then? After that, people could be, and still can be, harassed or lose their jobs for their sexual orientations. Would you expect a push for same-sex marriage then? Or consider the reaction when there was a push for the legalization of same-sex marriage, consider the Jim Crow type legislation conservatives were proposing. I know one person who disappeared from our family’s life for 10 years because of the fear that that person’s homosexuality would be a reason for us not liking them. And that wasn’t too long ago. We heterosexuals seem to be out of touch with the history of homosexuals have been through.

        What Jake basically said was that the move away from a simpler and smaller scale way of life caused some gender roles and family values to change. As that new more complicated way of life persisted, so did the change in those roles and value continue to change. Thus, we eventually ended up where we have today. What Jake could have mentioned as contributing to our change in values were the movements around rights starting in the 50s and 60s along with the more heterogeneous friends our kids hang out with. And that group of friends started to include more and more people from the LGBT community as those from that community became better equipped to handle the marginalization that their predecessors had to endure.

        • hoosier_bob

          That may have been the case in the US and certain other Western European nations. But there are plenty of cultures worldwide that have had no significant contact with any Abrahamic religion. And same-sex marriage has not evolved–even as a minority arrangement–in any of those cultures. To me, that suggests that the demand is artificial, perhaps created by the culture’s past tendency to be a bit too uptight about same-sex bonding outside of the context of marriage. In that sense, it isn’t that our overly aggressive policing of Freudian gender roles delayed the emergence of same-sex marriage; it’s actually far more likely that it caused it.

          • Bob,
            To say that the demand is artificial before consulting those in the LGBT community and their sympathizers shows a tendency to rely too much on deduction to determine all of reality rather than a mix of deduction and induction. In addition, there is the problem of generalizing what is in other societies to ours. Us conservative theologians, I am assuming that you fit into that category, tend to rely too much on deduction so that we end up not listening to enough people.

            BTW, history shows variations in the demand for same-sex marriage and this existed even before Freud. There were same-sex unions in the Roman Empire though they distinguished such unions from heterosexual marriages. Including same-sex marriage in the same category of heterosexual marriage is simply a variation of that.

          • hoosier_bob

            Curt,

            I’m not a conservative theologian. I’m an economist who focuses on behavioral aspects of economic decision-making. I don’t see the Bible as having much to say on this issue, so I feel like it’s best addressed through market-based analysis. I also identify as queer, as I believe that “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” are nothing but social constructions that have little grounding in reality.

            Also, I don’t think you understand what I mean by an artificial demand. I don’t mean that it’s not real. I simply mean that it’s not a characteristic of an efficient marriage market. Rather, it is something that has arisen as a symptom of an inefficient marriage market, i.e., a marriage market where certain idealized notions of marriage have been protected in a semi-monopolistic fashion.

            I have no interest in what people say. Humans are terrible evaluators of their own desires. You can only know what they want by observing how they conduct themselves in the marketplace. In every country that has made way for same-sex marriage and thereby displaced the Freudian monopoly, demand for same-sex marriage has decreased. I don’t think this is any reason to ban same-sex marriage. In fact, it suggests that the best way to reduce demand for it is to permit it. I only care about rooting inefficiencies out of the marriage market. Because an efficient market never errs, the market will decide whether a certain social arrangement is desirable or not.

          • Bob,
            Perhaps you should take marriage out of economic concepts. There are things that are very human about marriage that lie outside the sphere of economics. In addition, you have no interest in what people say, you have no interest in my words.

          • Kernel Kangaroo

            What in God’s name brought you to this site?

          • Kernel,
            Some people like to discuss issues with people with whom they disagree. I see that as a positive. But he suffers from the same problem that many of us Conservative Christians suffer from: using too much deduction to determine reality. That results in not listening enough to people

          • James

            There have always been same-sex marriages, but due to social hostility, the couples have heretofore felt it necessary to hide for safety. That is no longer the case.

      • James

        Gay and lesbian people have been around for as long as the human race has existed. The difference is that now, gay and lesbian people have decided not to continue to put up with being treated as subhuman, second-class citizens. That is the reason that the marriage equality movement has now achieved part of its goals. Marriage equality will not go away, because the movement of civilization toward a more just and decent society rarely reverses itself, and never for a very long period of time.

  • hoosier_bob

    Although we likely disagree on the merits of the Obergefell decision, what you write here is well said. After all, the way we have come to think about the family and marriage–even in the church–bears little resemblance to traditional marriage.

    A part of the problem probably also lies with the tendency of conservatives to adopt a lot of Freudian notions of sexuality rather uncritically. So, in addition to the problems you’ve raised, we also face the problem that we’ve redefined marriage to be an expression and celebration of heterosexual desire. Put another way, evangelicals have long since dispensed with the conjugal view of marriage. So, they’re left trying to oppose same-sex marriage based on a view of marriage that they’ve long ago rejected for their own marriages.

  • Rob Schwarzwalder

    This is an unusually thoughtful analysis. However, one of the essential reasons for two-earner homes is the growing burden of federal and state tax and regulatory policies that impose financial burdens on families unknown in previous generations. Add to this a culture that exalts radical (and particularly sexual) autonomy to god-like status and the legal animation of such through no-fault divorce laws; as the author notes, materialism/acquisitiveness/consumerism; and the elevation of career over children; and collapse follows. Widespread access to abortion and chemical contraception mean that historic constraints on sexual intimacy have been shattered (if abortion and contraception are legal and readily accessible, they will never be rare; OK, call me a Calvinist). Prosperity leading to “ignoble ease” leads to the end of personal and thus social virtue: Moral dissolution is the fruit of sustained and undemanding abundance. So, the purposes of marriage – gender complementarity necessary for the full realization of one’s humanness; child-bearing; and child-rearing in a home where the child benefits from two-gender complementarity – are lost in a haze of all things Self.

    Bear in mind that Scripture applauds and encourages diligence and our work should reflect that beautiful and appealing character of God. The issue, at least in part, is one of limits: Going full-tilt while at work but limiting the time one spends there is imperative. Many Christian men need to come to terms with the fact that if they wish to be the fathers and husbands God intended them to be, professional promotion and ever-escalating income might well elude them. This is hard for younger and middle-age men, particularly, but has to be factored into their professional decision-making. Better to have a Godly son or daughter and a marriage that is worth the name and lose a title than to get the corner office and throw your family episodic crumbs. What does it profit to gain Brooks Brothers but lose one’s own wife?

  • John Morgan

    In the history of mankind, contractual marriage is fairly new. It didn’t even become a sacrament in the Catholic church until the Council of Trent in 1547, after the Protestant Reformation got underway. So I think a bigger question is how did it survive 1547 years without weddings, two witnesses, and courthouses? In my opinion, marriage as we know it today was created in large part to accommodate divorce and served as a means to divide up property, money, and other assets. So I think the one-flesh heterosexual marriage that God intended has been on shaky ground since before the Industrial Revolution, which I think was more of a symptom of our need for comfort and convenience and material possessions. I don’t think we want to turn the clocks back to the 18th century. I think there are a number of reasons why same sex marriage crept into the picture: We turned our back on God and failed to define and model what marriage is. We put marriage and family up on a pedastal as the holy grail of man’s existence. We failed to define and model what celibacy is. I tend to think modernization was a facilitator in the recent Supreme Court Decision, but not the ultimate cause.

    • James

      The reason that same-sex marriage entered the picture is that gay and lesbian people finally decided not to continue to put with being treated as second-class citizens (for far too long with the church’s support), and to stand up for justice.

  • william

    An top-notch article, however, having spent much time in the field of law, I’m compelled to criticize the article’s reference to judicial activism as too benign a treatment for what actually occurred as determined by the majority’s result in the referenced SCOTUS decision. Judicial activism can wind up being something existential in nature, at least when a Constitutional principle isn’t involved. However, in the recent decision, the majority, as I believe the Chief Justice candidly and convincingly noted, actually amounted to effecting a Constitutional affront. In essence, the basis of the majority’s “result” seems philosophically related to Humpty Dumpty’s comment in Alice In Wonderland (a setting on which I’ll not comment): “When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean…”–the operative word under consideration being “marriage”. Unarguably, “marriage” has a long and historical legal status as a social unit consisting of a male and female and presupposed to include the potential for a child or children to be included as part of that social unit (as the article keenly noted in quoting from Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry). In this case, judicial activism by the majority might have been welcomed to effectively consider the situation of a state’s power to determine the importance of the presupposition that the historical status of marriage has presupposed the potential for a child or children to be included as part of a social unit consisting of a male and female..

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