Meaning and Marriage ©Gavin Ashenden.

meaning-and-marriage

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

Yes, who is to decide what words mean?  It can be hard enough to understand each other without words becoming like bars of soap in the bath, and slipping from one’s grasp just as you hoped you had got hold of them. Recently in particular, important words have had their meaning changed; it can get quite bewildering.

I found the change of ‘wicked’ quite upsetting. If it means ‘really great’ to some people, what word can I use to describe the annihilation of the Jews, Romas and homosexuals in the gas chambers of Auschwitz?

‘Gay’ no longer means irrepressively cheerful,  and ‘pride’ used to be a very dangerous sin which corrupted the soul and was hard to repair. Now, after the majority decision of the US Supreme Court by one vote, ‘marriage’ has changed too; homosexual marriage is now legal throughout the States.

But then this does in fact reflect a real change in the way we live and love. It may be simply that it is completely consistent that the country and culture that gave us Hollywood, a diet of sex and romance, should just extend that diet to a wider clientele.

There have been two definitions of marriage for some time. Before Hollywood, marriage was more about having children, building community and forging society. Men and women came to together to fulfil their biological imperative and made their own children and grand children;- the extended family – the developed community.

But Hollywood took one element of our relational attraction: erotic love (oops –‘love’- there’s another soap in the bath word-sorry), and built an entertainment industry out of sexual attraction and romance. The real casualty, as so often, were the children. Couples divorced and swopped each other when their ‘feelings’ got hooked by someone they weren’t married to. After all, being happy was the real goal. The children, emotionally, could fend for themselves. And so our culture has pursued erotic love, ephemeral romance and sexual attraction, as its gods. Marriage began to change from being less about children, to being about more sexual attraction and romance.

So maybe it’s only logical to extend that kind of marriage to homosexual people? Why not – if happiness and sex are what it’s all about?

We probably shouldn’t worry that lesbian marriages are 50-167% more likely to break down that straight ones (Scandinavian researchers tell us). After all, maybe it  means that more people get ‘loved’. It’s true more people also get ditched and rejected, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. And perhaps we have become over anxious where children have been ordered for a lesbian couple from an anonymous male sperm donor. Since the child could never get to know their real dad anyway, he or she may get used the idea that ‘parents’ just come and go from time to time. After all, we already decided that equal marriage is not about the kids – so let’s be consistent. Equal marriage is obviously not about social stability (since it is statistically much more fragile) so it would be unfair to judge it when it breaks down so much more often. Anyway, why fuss about social stability when equality is at stake?

But perhaps there is no reason to unfairly restrict ‘equal marriage’ to two people. Why be so judgmental and discriminatory? After all, do the maths; three people obviously make more happiness that two; so, next stop, the throuple.

The courageous threesome, Doll, Brynn and Kitten, three women from Massachusetts, ‘married’ each other in August 2013. They describe themselves as a ‘throuple’- and believe in poly-marriage. Each of them wants a baby, but only Kitten has got herself pregnant… so far. And with this new definition of marriage, can you see any logical reason for being triple-phobic and discriminating against a threesome?

Our own consultation showed that as many as 600 out of the 100,000 people in this island of Jersey registered their support for the new definition of the meaning of marriage, and our Government has courageously chosen to interpret this is a powerful electoral mandate for change.

Those who believe in ‘marriages that have the potential to create children’ may need to choose new language, and call theirs ‘natural marriage’ perhaps to clarify the meaning; and for those people who feel uncomfortable with the Bible, and its presumption to offer the Maker’s instructions for what is good for us, you might want to try the Greek myths. There’s a lot to be learnt from them too. So, Pandora had this really interesting box……

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