Thinking Christian

Thinking Christianity for church, home, and community

Marriage Is … ? (For family discussion)

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 by Tom Gilson

Here’s a discussion you can have around the dinner table, if your kids are old enough: What is marriage? Our culture is getting it wrong more often than not.

You might ask it this way, as I have done on this blog recently:

Why does marriage exist in the eyes of the law? What is it about marriage that merits that attention? That’s what you really, really need to think through.

It’s not so boys and girls can “make it” with each other without breaking some moral law.

It’s not so men and women can have shared bank accounts, at least not primarily so.

It’s not so men and women can inherit from each other without probate.

It’s not so they can share insurance benefits.

It’s not so they can visit one another in the hospital.

It’s not so they can be special friends forever.

Marriage does not exist in the eyes of the law for any of these reasons.

Marriage was not created by law, but if it had been, it surely wouldn’t have been for any of these reasons.

If your family really wants to explore the question, and if they’ve seen some of the right movies, you could offer this hint:

Do you remember those old Westerns when the dad pointed a shotgun at the cowboy and forced him to marry his daughter? I certainly don’t commend that practice, yet I find something instructive in it. Why did the dad want this misbehavin’ ranch hand for a son-in-law? What good was that?

There’s a common sense answer to that question, and it can help lead to an understanding of what marriage is all about.

But not quite yet: for that practice has faded into dim black-and-white movie memory. Where did it go? Did it disappear from our society just because we’re not prone to committing assault with firearms anymore? Maybe partly, but that’s not the whole answer. There’s another reason that to my mind stands out even more strongly than that.

Put all this together and it might help clarify why marriage matters.

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