Scouring my memory I curiously can’t find a proper definition of marriage and I don’t know where to seek one either. There are plenty of quotes about what marriage means but they all highlight only some particular aspects of it, not give a full, comprehensive definition the way Absolute Truth is defined in the first verse of Bhagavatam, for example.
The reason this has become important lately is the proliferation of gay marriage legislation all around the world. What should be our opinion on this? Where should it come from? What should it be based on?
We know that Srila Prabhupada would never have accepted it but we also need some shastric sources to justify his opinion to others.
Arguments for gay marriage are numerous and very compelling on their own and it appears the only reason to reject it is our fourth regulative principle, which we can’t force on the rest of the world. We can’t even force it on ourselves, after all. Yet we know that gay marriage is wrong regardless. Why?
In my view it all comes down to the definition, the very purpose of marriage. For us, followers of Srila Prabhupada, marriage is an institution for procreation. The rest of the world has never really thought about it and so when gays came out to claim their right there’s no straight answer for them.
A couple of months ago some gay marriage related case passed through the US Supreme Court and one of the dissenting judges mentioned difficulties arising from a lack of definition of marriage. Marriage has been an unquestionable tradition but now can be interpreted at will. When US Congress passed the original law less than twenty years ago marriage meant one thing but now the majority of US population wants it to be another, not to mention differences in legal interpretation between various US states.
In our tradition, in Krishna consciousness, there’s no such thing as “gay marriage”, it’s an oxymoron because gays can’t produce children, but for those who see marriage as a symbol of love and commitment being gay is not an obstacle.
This reflects gradual shift in understanding what sex is and what it is for. We stick to sex as means for procreation while the rest of the world wants sex as means of enjoyment. Procreation works only between a man and a woman while enjoyment can be had in almost everything.
Opponents of gay marriage are not the brightest bunch and they often get ridiculed. One guy said that once you accept same sex unions the next step would be mating with animals. He got a lot of flak for it but all I can see is that he was stating the truth.
Our local LGBT activist was quoted as saying that sexuality is fluid. No one had a problem with it but that goes so against the very premise of gay rights – that they were born that way. Not long ago an American organization that specialized in converting gays to straights had called it quits and everyone applauded their belated admission that it doesn’t work but here we have a gay leader herself saying that sexuality is fluid. I think I know where she is coming from – she has seen way too many convoluted, fleeting relationships in gay communities that she can’t honestly say that one’s sexuality is fixed at birth.
The only thing that is fixed is the presence of lust. How that lust manifests through one’s life is largely up to his or her association. As we move through life we learn to be attracted to available sexual targets. If that availability changes so will our preferences. I’ve never looked up statistics but it’s a common knowledge that men in prisons who have no other outlets learn to be attracted to men. Arabs and their goats is another example.
The body, of course, imposes its own limits, but only to a degree. No one is born to copulate with a goat, after all.
Recently I read a Buddhist scholar saying that in his religion there’s no requirement for procreation and so there are no restrictions on same sex unions, everything goes. Apparently among major religions only Muslims are holding out.
What is happening is that people who reject God’s laws start making their own, and that includes deciding what marriage is. If we engage in such debates we should remember that what marriage means to us is fundamentally different, if people don’t accept our position all further arguments will be futile. That’s why it’s important that sex for us means procreation, not enjoyment, and our definition of marriage rises from this.
There’s one more big difference – modern marriage implies “until death do us part” while our marriage ends when wife can be handed over to grown up children. It makes perfect sense to us – since there’s no more procreation and children can take care of themselves, there’s no need for the relationship. The opposite stance makes perfect sense to those who think marriage is meant for love and enjoyment, too – since there’s no time limit on how long it can last. They think they make a big sacrifice by staying with one person but that is only a preliminary stage on the path to renouncing sex for pleasure that is absolutely necessary for any kind of spiritual life.
Of course no one stays in marriage until death even where it’s considered ideal. Having accepted marriage as means of sense gratification one is practically obliged to divorce once his passion subsides or diverts to someone else. There’s a huge societal pressure to leave unhappy marriages while staying on despite all problems is considered practically sinful.
Finally, a perfect example of people inventing their own laws is latest statement from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the so called moral compass of South Africans and an icon for the rest of the world. He said that he is not going to worship a homophobic God and he is not going to enter heaven where same sex love is not accepted as natural.
Well, Desmond Tutu is such a big, honorable man that I’m sure God is already making adjustments in His kingdom, ready to serve Tutu’s preferences. Angels are busy writing pro-gay legislation and all the inhabitants are being lectured on how to behave once Tutu comes in.
The egoism and self-centeredness of these modern day Christians is beyond belief but it takes a while to observe it shine through. In the meantime we should stay clear of the marriage debate, listening to these arguments is very very polluting as they come from hearts of people who want to make God their servant.