marriage as culture - 2. Marriage as culture Marriage is,...

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2. Marriage as culture Marriage is, and has been for millennia, the institution that forms and upholds for society, the cultural and social values and symbols related to procreation. That is, it establishes the values that govern the transmission of human life to the next generation and the nurturing of that life in the basic societal unit, the family. Through marriage our society marks out the relationship of two people who will together transmit human life to the next generation and nurture and protect that life. By institutionalizing the relationship that has the inherent capacity to transmit life — that between a man and a woman — marriage symbolizes and engenders respect for the transmission of human life. (What such respect now requires has become an unprecedented issue in light of recent advances in reprogenetic technology. I discuss that shortly.) To change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would destroy its capacity to function in the ways outlined above, because it could no longer represent the inherently procreative relationship of opposite-sex pair-bonding. It would be to change the essence and nature of marriage as the principal societal institution establishing the norms that govern procreation. Marriage involves public recognition of the spouses' relationship and commitment to each other. But that recognition is for the purpose of institutionalizing the procreative relationship in order to govern the transmission of human life and to protect and promote the well-being of the family that results. It is not a recognition of the relationship just for its own sake or for the sake of the partners to the marriage, as it would necessarily become were marriage to be extended to include same-sex couples. Reproduction is the fundamental occurrence on which, ultimately, the future of human life depends. That is the primary reason why marriage is important to society. In our highly individualistic societies, we tend to look only at its importance to individuals. That is necessary, but not sufficient in deciding on the future of marriage. People advocating same-sex marriage argue that we should accept that the primary purpose of marriage is
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marriage as culture - 2. Marriage as culture Marriage is,...

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