Do the Kardashians Prove Same-Sex Marriage Should be Allowed?

Apparently Kim Kardashian is getting a divorce after 72 days of marriage.Aside from the genuine sympathy I think she deserves for what must be a challenging life, this brief marriage is noteworthy because of how it is being used in a larger cultural debate.

 

Over at Huffington Post, a pastor at the First Universalist Church of We Believe in Nothing (I actually made up that name) wrote a thank-you letter to Ms. Kardashian for making it obvious that extending marriage recognition to two people of the same gender does not diminish the institution of marriage in the least. In fact, according to the author, it is hetero celebrities like Ms. Kardashian who diminish the institution of marriage and if only she would learn a lesson from her committed, gay neighbors, we would all be better off.

 

Because this argument is getting so much play, I think it merits a response.

 

Is it true that brief celebrity marriages demonstrate that irresponsible heterosexuals have already destroyed the "sanctity of marriage" beyond repair?

 

To me, that argument misses the point. The straw man being set up here is that people believe marriage is worth defending because every marriage and every person involved in a marriage is responsible. No one believes this.

 

Marriage is not significant because there aren't any dysfunctional marriages. In fact, dysfunctional marriages, and our recognition that they are dysfunctional, are an acknowledgement that there is something better worth pursuing.

 

Whether or not we are willing to make the decisions necessary to make it happen for ourselves, it is impossible to deny that the world will be a better place if more people get married, stay married, become passionate parents to the children that they make, and limited their sexual expression to within that marriage.

Fundamentally, those are the expectations of a marriage. And the value created by large number of people meeting those expectations cannot be overstated. That doesn't mean that other arrangements aren't also fulfilling to individuals, they are just less significant to society and much less common.

Saying marriage doesn't matter because Kim Kardashian can't keep hers together is like saying you shouldn't try to make healthy food choices because people eat candy bars. The number of people eating large quantities of junk food, and the resultant heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc... illustrates why different choices are so important. In the same way, the number of people failing to meet the expectations of a stable, healthy marriage has provided mountains of evidence as to why we need to change the trend.

 

The argument that "marriage is meaningless now anyway, so you might as well let us get married too" is both bizarre, and, I would think, insulting to those in same-sex relationships. What, we're gonna let you get married now because it's a meaningless institution?

 

But the state has taken a similar approach in other arenas as well.

 

When we discovered that huge numbers of kids couldn't pass the math and science portions of the WASL to meet their graduation requirement, we simply removed it as a graduation requirement. So in one sense we would just be following the pattern of "when the going gets tough, just lower the expectations."

 

As convenient as it may be, this is not a recipe for long-term success...in anything.

 

Of course the response from same-sex "marriage" advocates is that this ideal of life-long commitment through marriage should be encouraged for same-sex pairs as well. After all, we're just like you. In one sense, it's a fair point. They do, and should, have the freedom to enter any kind of relationship they want, for as long as they want, without fear that the government is going to punish them for it.

 

But in another sense, they couldn't be more wrong. Whether they can accept it or not, a relationship involving two people of the same-sex is materially different than a relationship involving people of the opposite sex. Their effort to change the language so that it can no longer account for this difference is simply insecurity.

 

The reason we should not change the definition of the term marriage to include same-sex relationships is the same reason we do not use the word dog to refer to cats. Despite the fact that they are both furry, have four legs, and tails they are materially different. An effort to make the term "dog" refer to both canines and felines because of their similarities would simply destroy our ability to refer to them uniquely, which would serve no purpose other than to create confusion.

 

Even if same-sex "marriage" advocates are successful in redefining the term, we'll spend the rest of our lives following up the question "So, are you married?" with "to a man or a woman?". Why would we ask that question? Because it matters, and we all know it.    

 

Allowing our language to recognize what everyone already knows is simply common sense. Or are we no longer allowed to celebrate our differences?

 

Yes, it is too bad that Kim Kardashian couldn't keep her marriage together longer than a few weeks.   But do we really believe her experience is evidence that the ideals marriage represents are no longer worth pursuing? Hey, that guy just had a heart attack. Eat this burger.  

Comments:

Posted by Elly on November 26, 2011
Stay informaitve, San Diego, yeah boy!
Posted by Bruce Harold on November 16, 2011
Dear Sir; How can the Bible be unambiguous when it contains multiple creation stories, Christmas narratives, Easter accounts, etc.? And, sir, what rights were you deprived of when my friend Ted and his partner of 35 years were finally married in NYC this year? On the other hand, what about the 1000+ different rights straight couples (like Kris/Kim) have, but gay couples don't? Who is being deprived of rights in that situation? Actually, sir, the first amendment DOES protect the public from anyone writing their theology into the constitution. Particularly when that theology is based on a Bronze-age understanding of human sexuality which insists on a non-existent link between sexual orientation and morality.
Posted by Martin T. on November 15, 2011
Susan Russell does not speak for the Episcopal Church. You would be better served to ignore her dribble.
Posted by Malcolm French+ on November 15, 2011
Sir, you haven't offended Episcopalians (and by extension their Anglican coreligionists elsewhere) by a "snide remark." You have offended us by lying about what we believe. In accord with historic Christianity, "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." You, on the other hand, appear to believe that bearing false witness (something clearly and unambiguously condemned in scripture) is perfectly acceptable. Not only do you lie about Episcopalians generally, you then lie about what Canon Russell has said. You are a liar, sir. It is, regretfully, as simple as that.
Posted by Joseph Backholm on November 15, 2011
Rev. Susan. The first amendment does not protect anyone from writing their theology into the constitution. You are trying to legislate your morality/religion in precisely the same way many accuse me of doing. We just disagree on what is right in this situation. The constitution establishes a framework for how ideas become law, it does not establish a litmus tests for the kind of ideas that can become law. Of course not every idea is constitutional, but no idea is unconstitutional simply because it is consistent with someone's theology. As to the constitution protecting gay people...of course it does and should. But there is no constitutional right to marry whomever you want. There are four limitations on who you can marry. You can't marry someone under 18, someone who is a close relative, someone who is already married, or someone who is of the same gender. People are free to make whatever living arrangements they wish, but marriage is specific kind of relationship. I agree with the vast majority of courts that have ever considered this question that the right to marry does not extend to the right to marry whomever you want. I think it is likely that you agree with that as well unless you think polygamy or relationships involving siblings are also deserving of marriage recognition. And if you don't, does that make you a narrow idealogue who wants to take away the fundamental rights from American citizens?
Posted by Joseph Backholm on November 15, 2011
Yes, Bruce. If the Bible is ambiguous about homosexuality, it is also ambiguous about lying, adultery, murder, theft, loving your neighbor, taking care of orphans and widows, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry.
Posted by Bruce Harold on November 14, 2011
" . . .unambiguous words of the Bible . . ." Really?
Posted by jim Beyer on November 14, 2011
I read your article with a sense of disbelief. You did a snide job of answering the argument Rev. Susan did not make. You wrote, "Saying marriage doesn't matter because Kim Kardashian can't keep hers together is like saying you shouldn't try to make healthy food choices because people eat candy bars." The problem here is that Rev. Susan did not say that. It is a fairly good rule that if one is going to take cheap shots, they should at least be aimed at the actual target. Shameful. Really!
Posted by anonymous on November 14, 2011
Mr. Backholm, Just to make sure I'm clear here, your strategy to "clarify" having offended Episcopalians by suggesting we "believe nothing" is to dismiss hundreds of years of Anglican ethos grounded in scripture, tradition and reason because it fails your "sola scriptura" litmus test? As a cradle Episcopalian I was raised in a church that taught that we take the Bible too seriously to take it literally. Reading the Bible as the Living Word of God -- not to be confused with the "literal words" of God -- is the foundational principle for living a life of faith committed to aligning our lives with God's love, justice and compassion. It is the context that allowed us to hold in tension our identity as both catholic and protestant during the 16th century and continues to call us into the challenges of the 21st. Thank God we live in a country where the First Amendment protects your right to believe "the Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it." But that same First Amendment also protects us from you writing your theology into our Constitution. That's what the marriage equality struggle is about -- whether narrow idelogues have the right to take away fundamental rights from American citizens because they do not believe God blesses same-sex marriages. The issue isn't whether God blesses them. The issue is whether the Constitution protects them. So, Mr. Backholm, if you really want "clarify" what Episcopalians believe then ask us. Or visit our websites. (My church is allsaints-pas.org) Engage in some dialogue. We may not believe what you believe. But I respectfully suggest that our beliefs deserve more respect than to be dismissed as "believing nothing" -- particularly by someone who purports to stand for Traditional Values. Or perhaps respect isn't on that list. The Reverend Canon Susan Russell, All Saints Church, Pasadena CA
Posted by Laurie on November 14, 2011
And dear Joseph, now who is offering their opinion on what or what is not Christian orthodoxy? I daresay it is you. Have you sold everything you own and given it to the poor? Have you loved your neighbors (all of them) as God first loved you? Have you laid down your life for a brother or sister in Christ? I put forth the idea that these ideas are part and parcel of the reservation of Christian orthodoxy since they too are all to be found in Scripture. What I find appalling is your sect's adamant belief that you and you alone may interpret Scripture and hold up those things you and alone feel should be paramount. All the while discounting and ignoring those parts of Scripture that may not be part of your personal belief system. Well I guess that makes you no better than those you impugn with disdainful name-calling and dishonest scholarship.
Posted by Laurie on November 14, 2011
And dear Joseph, now who is offering their opinion on what or what is not Christian orthodoxy? I daresay it is you. Have you sold everything you own and given it to the poor? Have you loved your neighbors (all of them) as God first loved you? Have you laid down your life for a brother or sister in Christ? I put forth the idea that these ideas are part and parcel of the reservation of Christian orthodoxy since they too are all to be found in Scripture. What I find appalling is your sect's adamant belief that you and you alone may interpret Scripture and hold up those things you and alone feel should be paramount. All the while discounting and ignoring those parts of Scripture that may not be part of your personal belief system. Well I guess that makes you no better than those you impugn with disdainful name-calling and dishonest scholarship.
Posted by ODsmom on November 14, 2011
"Sola Scriptura" always looks like "Pick and Choose" to me.
Posted by Joseph Backholm on November 13, 2011
Since I have obviously offended some Episcopalians with my tongue-in-cheek comment about a possible name of a church, I should clarify. Once an individual or an organization puts themselves in the position of deciding that the the unambiguous words of the Bible are wrong, they have decided that they, not God, are the final arbiter of what is right and wrong. In my opinion, that position is antithetical to Christianity, particularly of the protestant variety which was founded on the concept of Sola Scriptura (by scripture alone). It also puts such a person in a position of having them appoint themselves to effectively be God, since they consider themselves free to ignore what they claim to believe God said in scripture. Ergo, they don't believe in anything more than their own opinion. Or one might say, they believe in nothing. At this point, scripture just has nice suggestions and stories that make them happy or hopeful. But it is no longer authoritative. While I enthusiastically defend someones right to hold that position, I do not consider it to be on the reservation of Christian orthodoxy. I also do not understand why people would bother to concern themselves at all with what the Bible says about anything if they are just going to selectively edit it according to their own preferences. If you value what it says that little, why bother? I don't expect this to make anyone feel better about the comment, but I thought a more thorough explanation was in order given the attention that comment received. Thank you all for the respectful feedback. I appreciate the conversation.
Posted by susan kay miller on November 13, 2011
Love your neighbor as yourself. No exceptions. People who are willing to take the risk of a life time committment should be celebrated, lifted up and made legal. No exceptions.
Posted by David S. on November 13, 2011
Your reference to the writer as "pastor of the first universalist church of we believe in nothing" sets the tone of your entire article and clearly shows that you've missed her entire point and wish to belittle rather than discuss or even listen to those who disagree with you. Shame on you.
Posted by Bruce Harold on November 13, 2011
Joseph, you get an "A" for snarkiness but your case is no better than that put forward by the "expert" witnesses in the Prop. 8 camgaign in California. The next straight drunk couple that marries in Vegas immediately is legally entitled to more than 1000 different rights that gay couples in most states do not have. What is "not proper" is to maintain a double standard based on bibliolatry, homophobia and ignorance.
Posted by Michael Harnois on November 13, 2011
My fellow Episcopalian Susan Russell is both faithful to Jesus and brilliant. Not only that, she has far too much integrity to caricature your article the way you caricatured hers, as tempting (and easy) as that might be.
Posted by Jason on November 13, 2011
I really, really wish you "family" groups would stop comparing gay people to animals. We are human beings with feelings and free will, whether or not you agree with who we choose to include in our FAMILIES. It just makes you sound ignorant.
Posted by James on November 13, 2011
You state: "Is it true that brief celebrity marriages demonstrate that irresponsible heterosexuals have already destroyed the "sanctity of marriage" beyond repair?" Well, it certainly isn't the gay's who are to blame since they cannot marry in most places in the US. The marriage damage is to be placed exclusively at the feet of heterosexuals who have the legal right to marriage. They have damaged and made marriage a trivial thing. Additionally, you state: "Whether or not we are willing to make the decisions necessary to make it happen for ourselves, it is impossible to deny that the world will be a better place if more people get married, stay married, become passionate parents to the children that they make, and limited their sexual expression to within that marriage." Care to offer the proof of that? What will be better by heterosexuals marrying? Wars will end? Hunger will be eradicated? Making blanket statements without the facts to support them will merit an "F" in logic, speech, and critical thinking classes.
Posted by Dr. Val on November 13, 2011
Joseph: I am proud to say that my partner and I are contributing to the better world you describe, by staying married, becoming passionate parents to our children, and limiting our sexual expression to within our marriage. In addition, we pay our taxes (& mortgage), mow our lawn, take care of our parents, and contribute to the community. I really fail to see the differences you are attemping to make. Dr. Val
Posted by Matt on November 13, 2011
Episcopalians have beliefs, just like whatever Christian denomination you belong to does as well. Maybe if Christians spent more time helping opposite sex marriages succeed and less time attacking denominations who do not celebrate Jesus Christ in the exact same way they do the world would be a better place. Instead we live in a world where all we see is 72 day opposite sex marriages and Christians attacking Christians for not interpreting the bible in the exact same way.
Posted by The Reverend Susan Russell on November 13, 2011
In point of fact, the argument being made in the Huffington Post piece (which I wrote) is not that "marriage doesn't matter because Kim Kardashian can't keep hers together" ... it is marriage DOES matter -- and what matters are the values that make up a marriage; not the gender of the couple who pledge to love, honor and cherish each other until death do they part. The Reverend Canon Susan Russell All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena ... where we believe in the Good News of God's love, justice and compassion made known to us in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Just for the record.)
Posted by Boo on November 13, 2011
Linking to the article would be a very bad idea. Then people might read it and see that the author of this article is bearing false witness. Because of course the article he's criticising doesn't say that the sanctity of marriage has been destroyed or that marriage is meaningless.
Posted by Mary on November 11, 2011
After living through the 60s and witnessing so many years of the utopians impuning the tradition of marriage and the promotion of "just living together", the left's urgency for pushing marriage of any kind, let alone "same-sex" marriage, seems rather odd, at best. There must be something else going on, ya think? With starry-eyed leftists hopeful use of the word "anarchy" so often, of late, it brings to mind Kirby Anderson's article, "Decline of a Nation," http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4217933/k.664B/The_Decline_of_a_Nation.htm "The third stage [of national decline] is anarchy. Once a society has rejected God's revelation, it is on its own. Moral and social anarchy is the natural result. At this point God has given the sinners over to a depraved mind and so they do things which are not proper." Our nation is in world of hurt, within and without the church.
Posted by Karen on November 11, 2011
Same sex unions are an unfortunate choice made by those who believe by our culture and media that it is normal when in fact it is not normal nor is it an orientation. It is an ungodly sinful choice that will catch up to those who choose it and of course cause a tremendous amount of torment.
Posted by FPIW on November 10, 2011
Here is the article referenced in the post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-susan-russell/kim-kardashian-divorce_b_1074252.html
Posted by Caryl-Ann Copenhaver on November 10, 2011
Great article, Joseph! I love your analogy of dogs and cats. I have both and they are definitely different. See you soon in Olympia!
Posted by Mike Richey on November 10, 2011
I spent a great deal of time attempting to debate a group of "many paths to godders..." during the discourse, they put sanskrit curses on me, started quoting from books of the Bible they made up on a whim and generally never were able to stand in the light of the Word for more than a few sentences. They were only good at declaring victory but never proving anything. So it is with mr universalist who thinks men can marry men and women can marry women. Nothing in the universe natural supports or backs up their claims except their whims and desires. I suspect we will see more and more division because heaven is coming to earth... God is not finished nor is he mad, he is going to demonstrate to this world who he is and what he is about. The stakes are too high for lost mankind for him not to show up in his glory... His love is too great... sideshows like this same sex marriage lie are not going to be interesting in the future. At least that is what I think.*
Posted by Anonymous on November 10, 2011
Could you please provide the link to the article you're talking about?
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