Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sense and Sensibility: Redefining Marriage

What is repugnant to you?  Killing animals?  Whipping children or En_brud_på_norr._Fritz_von_Dardel,_1830-40-tal_-_Nordiska_Museet_-_NMA.0037706animals?  Torture?  For me, reading or seeing anything having to do with defection makes me sick.  As a result, I do not include that act or anything relating to it (synonyms, descriptions, etc.) in even my fictional writing. 

And yet, people complain when a business will not serve a potential client or customer who wants the business to create something (pastries, party favors, invitations, photographs and videography,  a musical mix, etc.) for an activity which the business owner knows will lead to something that violates their beliefs.  The opening of a sex shop, a gambling facility, or something similar might violate the tenents held by a business owner—such an enterprise would damage their own soul should they use their creative energies to further it.

When does a person’s conscience and soul take precedence over the rights of others?  No one’s art is truly unique.  I can find any number of bakeries, printers, photographers and videographers who are not bound by conscience. 

When I was practicing photography, I was asked to photograph my ex-fiancé's wedding.  Stupidly, I agreed.  I have no idea what quality of photographs resulted because I pulled the film out of the camera, flung it at him after the wedding, and told him I was done.  I know he would have gotten better results if he had hired someone else.

When someone walks into a store and asks for invitations, pastries, photographic services and the like, they must know that if their project would violate the conscience and sensibilities of the business owner then the outcome would be less than favorable.  You may not force someone to violate their conscience for something that is any less than life threating. 

And yet, homosexual couples are trying to legally force small business owners to provide creative services for celebrations which those owners cannot in good conscience provide good service.  Are they doing this thoughtlessly, selfishly, or to prove a point.  I really think it is the latter. 

Let’s talk about the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.  Some people falsely believe that it requires everyone to be treated equally—that everyone is equal.  However, our founders were not blind.  They could see that individuals were not equal in life.  Some were strong, some weak, some poor, some rich, some sickly, some healthy.  What the Equal Protection Clause says is that the laws of the land must be equally enforced.  You don’ t have one law for the rich (e.g. they can pay their way out of mandatory military service) and one for the poor (they must serve and be killed).  You don’t have one law for people of European descent (they can live as free people) and another law for people of African descent (they can be treated like property).  Equal protection under the law does not mean that everyone gets served.  Remember “No shoes, no shirt, no service?” 

Now, lets address one of my pet peeves—redefinitions.  I have already used one word in this essay that has been redefined as a misspelling of tenant—a renter.  I’m sure you can find that word.  There’s a song from the musical, Oklahoma, with the line “I am as bright and as gay as a daisy in May.”  The redefinition is obvious to anyone who has enjoyed that musical.  And then there’s the redefinition of “baby.”  Or maybe I should call it the shifting definition.  When is a baby a baby?  Only when it’s born.  What expectant mother does not exclaim, “I am having a baby!”  It’s a baby to her when she knows she’s pregnant.  “We’re having a baby,” she says.  It’s a fetus to those who don’t want it to be a baby.  And now marriage is taking on a definition change, not a shift.  Marriage has always been the state of a relationship between a man and a woman that separated it from all other relationships.  Everyone everywhere at all times recognized that definition.  Now some want the definition to change so that marriage can be between any two persons of legal age.  But once it’s changed, it no longer holds its original meaning.  It means nothing.  Just like “gay” once meant frivolously happy.  That meaning is completely gone.  “Gay” now means homosexual.  The meaning has completely changed. 

I don’t think it’s a good thing to mess with meaning.  And certainly not if the word has existed with a strong meaning for hundreds of years (marry was first coined in the 1300’s but synonyms have been used almost since the beginning of time).  Don’t let people change the meaning.  Marriage is not a word invented or a law promulgated by the government.  Yes, the government can protect the people getting married by keeping close relatives from marrying, and requiring tests for diseases that would adversely affect the couple if they married.  But government may not redefine words to mean something that they never meant.  Not now, not ever. 

The word tenent disappeared, it has been changed to tenet—a strongly held belief or principal.  Gay can disappear.  I liked it, but it was not a terribly important word.  Marriage must not be made to disappear.  It is a very important word with an inherent meaning that may not be displaced or redefined. 

A pizza restaurant in Indiana is losing business because they said they would not cater a homosexual “wedding.”  They would serve anyone who comes into their restaurant.  But they drew the line at catering an event that strove to redefine marriage. 

Can marriage be redefined?  Yes, we have redefined other things.  But the question remains, just because we can, should we? 

We must never redefine words that function to sustain societies.  And that’s what marriage does.