Marriage: An Obligation And Not A Right

The same-sex marriage movement won a significant victory at Supreme Court on Wednesday, when it struck down a key part of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, and dismissed Prop. 8 case in California, which protected marriage as between a man and a woman. The court, however, did not make a ruling on whether marriage is a constitutionally-protected right for all couples, gay or straight.

Supporters of same-sex marriage were thrilled by this victory as a movement towards progress in human relations allowing any two human beings who love one another to be married. They base their argument on defining marriage as a right to regulate love. But marriage was never created to regulate love.

Marriage, historically, is an institution that developed naturally out of necessity in every culture to regulate obligations, roles, and rights of wives, husbands and their offspring. Marriage did not come about because a man and a woman fell in love but was often arranged and even in modern societies it is women, more than men, who are watching their biological clock and seek marriage especially after a pregnancy.

Traditionally, love was never the measure or condition to get married or to have children and societies that practice arranged marriage often have lower divorce rate than societies that base marriage strictly on love. Marriage was important business for humanity to solve problems related to procreation, women's rights, pregnancy, and the healthy upbringing of children. It is only in our modern day 'sophisticated' society that a man and a woman got married after falling in love advocating, as the song goes: "love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage."

Before Christianity, polygamy was the norm, especially among affluent men. But women's rights were not properly met in the polygamous marriage. After developing the institution of marriage, society, and religion headed to the more refined monogamous marriage between one man and one woman to avoid the chaos of polygamy and the dysfunctional and inhumane Harem institution prevalent until today in Islamic society. The evolution of marriage was systematically refined especially in Judeo/Christian cultures which stress love in all relationships, but with one goal in mind; the protection of women, especially the pregnant woman, the children and entrusting men with a sacred responsibility. In that sense, marriage is an obligation and not a right.

Deep down in the origin of marriage is a sacred covenant of duty, obligation, and sacrifice for other family members that can only exist when a man, woman, and their offspring remain in this sacred union, in good or bad, sickness or health till death do them part. It is true that not all men and women handle such a sacred obligation with the proper expected responsibility, but like anything else, that is not the problem of the institution when married couples cannot handle the stress and divorce.

Advocates of the traditional marriage are thus left scratching their heads, why? Why would gay people want to incorporate such a unique man/woman institution and force themselves to operate within its strict boundaries when it is not necessary? Why call any loving relationship "marriage" when the institution does not regulate love? Why put a tag "marriage" to an empty shell that cannot reproduce without a third party involved? Gay couples will never be able to reproduce on their own, thus making their marriage a three way union, whether they like it or not. With this fact alone, their union of love is not the same as the self-sufficient marriage between a man and a woman.

It is time for the gay lobby to be realistic and end their misdirected anger and reliance on the legal system to solve all their wishes. Any group that does not rely on common sense and only relies on the law for acquiring 'rights' will be a burden and never a solution for society as a whole. Government will never solve all the problems neither straight nor gay couples. Gays are fooled into thinking that the solution to their problems is in the hands of government or in the hands of straight people who owe them something.

There must be a sensible solution to this dilemma since there is a happy medium solution; Gays who love one another and want to be monogamous 'till death do them part' and who need all the legal obligations, rights, and restraints of married couples can sign a union contract that can give them all the legal protections needed in a relationship. But even gay people need to understand the importance of the traditional institution of marriage, which is not a right, but a commitment and an obligation.

The reason people cry in weddings is not because the bride and groom love one another, but it is because it is the start of a wonderful journey that is often rocky and challenging but if a couple is resilient, can measure up and last to the end, they would have achieved the best that life has to offer for both them and the new generation.

Nonie Darwish is the author The Devil We Don't Know

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