Marriage and a doughnut

FB Post: “Claiming that someone else’s marriage is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating a doughnut because you’re on a diet.”

My Initial Response: This statement is that it might easily be taken out of context. However, the accompanying photo and our cultural context encourage one to think that the marriage in view is dissimilar to the traditional understanding of marriage (a lifelong commitment and exclusive union between one man and one woman). It makes me wonder if someone has an ax to grind.

Reflection: Preference? Perspective? Pascal’s Wager?

Preference – The statement implies that marriage is a matter of personal preference just like choosing a doughnut. “You choose the one you like and I’ll choose the one I like. Who’s to say that there is a right and wrong choice?” Marriage is simply choosing one person, according to one’s own personal preference. Much more may be implied but the comparison is both confusing and ambiguous. For instance, marriage seems to connote a longer-lasting relationship than eating a doughnut. Even those who demonstrate every low esteem for marriage would understand marriage to be at least some kind of abiding commitment to another person. More could be said but maybe equating marriage to having a donut is not the best analogy. In fact, maybe it’s not even an analogy because the similarity between the two is not great. Perhaps the speaker is merely attempting to make a point without giving it much thought. At the least, it seems that marriage is likened to a forbidden snack. (This reminds me of another “snack” offered by a snake a very long time ago.)

Perspective – When I read the word marriage. I naturally think of a permanent, binding relationship between a man and a woman. I have been a member of the “look it up club” since I was in the 3rd grade. So that’s just what I did.

A quick check with my online dictionary (Bing provided by Microsoft) provides a politically correct definition: a legally recognized relationship, established by a civilian or religious ceremony between 2 people who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners. I suspect that this has been “adjusted” to mesh with the current values of our society.

My research software also has a dictionary (Merriam-Webster), which provides a similar but different perspective. Marriage is defined as: a: the state of being married; b: the mutual relation of husband and wife: wedlock; c: the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. This has been the traditional understanding of the term. Otherwise, qualifiers (i.e. same-sex) would not be necessary.

I strongly value the opening statements of the traditional wedding ceremony, which resounds with biblical phrases and reminds us that marriage was instituted by God. Ceremonies vary, but consider this is an example:

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the presence of God to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.

Marriage was instituted by God himself in the time of man’s (i.e. mankind) innocency and uprightness. The Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). Thereupon God created woman of man’s own substance and brought her to the man.

Our Lord Jesus Christ honored marriage by His presence at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. And He confirmed it as a divine ordinance and a union not to be severed when He declared, “Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). Moreover, the apostle Paul set forth the sacred and exalted nature of marriage when he likened it to the mystical union that subsists between Christ and His Church.

The purpose of marriage is the enrichment of the lives of those who enter into this estate, the propagation of the race, and the extension of Christ’s Church to the glory of the covenant God. (Taken from The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America)

I readily acknowledge that my “preferences) are convictions tightly bound up with the so-called traditional understanding of marriage. I also believe that these views are founded upon the authority of the word of God, the Bible, which I profess as my only rule of faith and practice. That is, I attempt to have my views and convictions formed by the truth of God’s Word and not by cultural values, preferences or political correctness – not even tradition. These convictions are reinforced by the historic (traditional) position of the church (Christians throughout the ages) on these matters. Thus, the issue is fundamentally, what God has said regarding marriage and not what I would could you read it wanted to chat with like marriage to be. This is why Christians, understand that the attack on marriage is actually rebellion against God.

Pascal – Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), was a French physicist, mathematician and philosopher. He is known as the “Father of the Science of Hydrostatics,” because he helped develop the barometer, pioneered hydrodynamics and fluid mechanics. This led to his discovery of “Pascal’s Principle,” which formed the basis of hydraulics. He also made invaluable contributions in the areas of probability and differential calculus, with the invention of Pascal’s triangle for calculating the coefficients of a binomial expansion. (Honestly, I had forgotten all this but I did remember what’s next…) Pascal’s significant religious influence is preserved in his religious writings which emphasize “the reasons of the heart” over dry logic and intellect.

In his defense of Christianity against antagonistic philosophy and views, he developed a strategy now known as the Wager of Pascal. He put it like this:

How can anyone lose who chooses to become a Christian? If, when he dies, there turns out to be no God and his faith was in vain, he has lost nothing—in fact, he has been happier in life than his nonbelieving friends. If, however, there is a God and a heaven and hell, then he has gained heaven and his skeptical friends will have lost everything in hell!

Surely marriage calls for more consideration than choosing a doughnut…

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