by Erin Weist
Sometimes the question comes up among traditional marriage supporters about how to defend marriage in the face of those who invoke statements such as, “love wins,” or “people can’t help who they love,” or “it’s all about love.” Indeed, that would be tough to argue against. Who doesn’t support loving each other? But I suggest these statements are straw man arguments, meant to invoke intense passion for the subject without actually addressing the subject at all.
Wikipedia defines these arguments: “A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be ‘attacking a straw man.’” Those who support traditional marriage are not, in any arena, denying love. Traditional marriage does not discourage love between any human beings: man, woman, or child. Love is essential to the sustainability and progress of any moral society. Attacking someone who disagrees with same sex marriage by saying “it’s all about love” suggests those disagreements are the equivalent of spitting on love.
Nothing could be further from the truth. First, love comes in many forms. Men can form bonds with each other, women love friends in their social groups, children love each other, adults love children and find themselves concerned with their well-being because of that love. Ancient Greeks believed in at least 8 different types of love, some of them among friends and having nothing to do with a marriage relationship. Each of these forms of love is different based on the particular relationship. Traditional marriage supporters generally believe in many different forms of love– but especially that physical love is one particular kind meant to be kept between 2 opposite genders and ONLY in a marriage relationship. This doesn’t deny selfless love or familial love that we feel for others around us.
Second, I believe most traditional marriage supporters feel that marriage is about more than love. It is a crucial basis for a marriage relationship but it ultimately leads to propagation of the species as one generation comes together and creates the next generation. Children are a crucial key to traditional marriage that are often ignored in the discussion about same sex marriage. Children are found to thrive best in a loving environment with both mother & father. Many criminal or drug issues can be tied back to broken families, proving how crucial stable families are to the development of children, and therefore to a society. There are other options for children when circumstances arise that necessitate changes but they are not the ideal. And when it comes to children, even if it’s not always possible, society should strive for the ideal.
Marriage may be all about love but the arguments in favor of same sex marriage reflect a different kind of love– less concerned with a stable society or the next generation and more concerned with self. So saying “love wins” is indeed a straw man. No one is arguing against love, just which kind is most important.