ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Battle for the Definition of Marriage

Updated on June 1, 2012

Same Sex Marriage

The ban on same sex marriage in California is declared unconstitutional
The ban on same sex marriage in California is declared unconstitutional | Source

Western democracies struggle with the concept of same-sex marriage

A culture war is being waged in the USA over the concept of marriage. All indicators are that the Conservatives are going to lose out when the younger generation begins to engage in the political process (they are far less homophobic than their elders). Therefore that battle has been taken to developing countries where religious and cultural objections provide fertile ground for the traditional definition marriage.

The subject is very sensitive because it touches morality, a deeply personal concept. Same-sex marriage is sometimes viewed as a direct attack on the established religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The proponents of same-sex marriage argue that it is a human rights issue. A number of theories have been espoused concerning sexuality ranging from the scientific to the emotional.

The overlap between civil rights and cultural norms

To date no one has provided a satisfactory explanation as to why people are heterosexual, homosexual or even bisexual. Christians point to guidance from the Bible to denounce this ‘abomination’ while Islam has a similarly Conservative view. African traditional culture believes that marriage is primarily to raise children and foster community relationships. This may not be possible in a same-sex relationship.

Others are worried about the slippery end of a slope: Where will it end? Will the government start recognizing marriage between animals and human beings? What about polygamy? What about pedophilia? Even the most liberal traditions tread carefully when the subject is couched in such terms. At the heart of the disagreements is the distinction between an acquired and a natural phenomenon.

For some people anything other than heterosexuality is a learned behavior which can be corrupted by lasciviousness. [1]Others claim that homosexuality is a form of sickness which can be treated using medical and psychological methodology. On the other hand there are some who consider sexual ‘aberrations’ to be some sort of demonic visitation which can be healed through spiritual methods.

Accommodating prejudices and human rights

The Liberal Establishment may be playing a dangerous game by insisting that homosexuality has to be accepted or else there will be consequences. Attitudes are likely to harden if for example African countries are denied foreign aid because they take a Conservative approach to this issue. Persuasion or accommodation might be a bitter pill to swallow but at the end of the day radical changes in the understanding of traditional marriages are likely to trigger a backlash.

President Obama was pushed into a corner and eventually decided to fall on the Liberal interpretation of marriage. Apparently his interaction with his daughters Sasha and Malia helped to convince him that the restrictions on same-sex marriages were unfair. Already it is clear that the younger generation is going to determine the winner in this culture war.

Civil Unions were meant to quell the equality campaigners by offering a marriage in all but name. However matters have since moved forward. Gay people are demanding that they be given the right to marry in same-sex relationships. For some people this is deeply offensive to their religious beliefs. Marriage appears to attract more civil benefits when compared to a Civil Union. Already the seeds of discontent have been sown.

The role of religious institutions

If there is an acceptance that marriage is in fact a religious ceremony without civil consequences then religious organizations would be logically entitled to define it. However the reality is that marriage in the USA and other countries attracts significant benefits which are administered by the government. For example married couples may be entitled to certain benefits.

The supporters of same-sex marriage argue that sexual minorities pay their taxes just like everyone else. Therefore they are entitled to demand benefits that are similar to heterosexual couples. It is a complex issue that may not be resolved by a simple electoral process. Most attempts to get the public to support same-sex marriage at the ballot box have failed in the USA.

Some Churches are taking the bull by the horns. For example Rev. Jane Adams Spahr risked the wrath of the Presbyterian Church establishment by marrying 16 same-sex couples. [2] An attempt to rebuke her was voted down by the Presbytery of the Redwoods. Although religious institutions are naturally Conservative on this issue, their opinions are by no means homogenous.

What will be the definition of marriage in 50 years time?

It is hard to judge the pace of change but it is certainly true that younger people in developed countries are more likely to take a ‘live and let live’ approach to sexuality. They also question the ethics of those institutions which insist on traditional marriage. For example the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church has rendered some of the arguments against homosexuality rather hypocritical.

Both sides of the argument are happy to attack anyone that takes a contrary approach. Meanwhile the world is changing. It is almost hard to describe the Spanish Inquisition to the young Europeans of today yet a few hundred years ago a person could be burnt for refusing to accept a certain religion. Perhaps in 50 years time, all these arguments will be completely irrelevant.


  1. G.A. Rattray,” Redefining 'marriage'”, 21st May 2012, Jamaica Gleaner,
  2. M. L. La Ganga,” California presbytery defies church, backs minister in gay weddings”, 16th May 2012, LA Times,

Goldman School of Public Policy Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Gay Marriage

Should Gay People be Allowed to Get Married?

See results

Did you find this article useful?

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Same Sex Marriage


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Johnkadu123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Comments are most welcome on this issue.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)