The controversy about same-sex marriage churns principally around the definition of marriage. Activists deny the traditional view that marriage is about children. Instead, marriage is an ever-changing, socially-constructed institution constantly being redefined by society. There is no essential connection with children. Rather, at the core of the enterprise are two people in love.
Understandably, love is a predominant theme in discussions about marriage. “As long as people love each other,” one person asserted, “it shouldn’t matter whether they are the same sex. What’s important in marriage is love.”
Initially, this seems hard to deny. In our culture, love is often the immediate motivation for marriage. On reflection, though, it’s clear that love and marriage don’t always go together. In fact, they seldom do.
If marriage were about love, then billions of people in the history of the world who thought they were married were not. Most marriages have been arranged. Love may percolate later, but only as a result of marriage, not the reason for it.
Further, if love were the sine qua non of marriage, no “for better or for worse” promises would be needed at the altar. Vows aren’t meant to sustain love; they are meant to sustain the union when love wanes. A pledge keeps a family intact not for love, but for the sake of children.
The state doesn’t care if the bride and groom love each other. There are no questions about a couple’s affections when granting a license. No proof of passion is required. Why? Because marriage isn’t about love. Ask any married person. It’s about a commitment that is supposed to deliver stability for families. That’s what society is really interested in because that’s what ensures the continuation of a society.
Since, love may be the reason some people get married, but it isn’t the reason for marriage. It may be a constituent of marriage, but it isn’t the purpose of marriage. Something else is.