Redefining Marriage Undefines Marriage

In a recent Huffington Post opinion piece Lisa Haisha, a hollywood therapist, encouraged couples to redefine, by mutual consent, monogamy out of marriage. We live too long to be expected to find sexual satisfaction in one partner, so we should be open minded and invite our spouses to enjoy other wares.

Fifty percent of all married individuals commit adultery, causing nasty divorces. Haisha says we can avoid all the lying and sneaking if we simply open our beds to new experiences. Cheating doesn’t exist if you change the rules! Redefine marriage and divorces will decrease. Can’t mature men and women of the 20-century cast-off our prudish, victorian wedding vows that enslave us to a single sexual partner for life?

Her logic plays on our favorite piece of modern mythology: evolution. I don’t mean that evolution is a myth, I mean that most westerns hold a psuedo-religious view that we are constantly rising in intelligence and wisdom; for us, newer is truer; progress is best. Haisha taps into this mythology by claiming that a progressive definition of marriage is obviously what’s best for us.

But is newer always truer? Is redefining marriage what we really want? need?

Haisha’s argument grows ridiculous when she begins describing cultures which accept variant definitions of marriage. Her primary example is Japan, where couples who marry for status openly seek extramarital relations with prostitutes and online consorts. When I write it, it sounds ridiculous, but somehow Haisha makes this lifestyle sound noble, open-minded, and liberating. In reality it sounds depressingly hopeless.

“Open marriages” and polygamy have existed for centuries (most recently under the psuedo-intellectual guises of men who wanted to justify their right to adultery). I know of no success stories. It turns out that married people, perhaps us unevolved people, always grow jealous.

We intuitively know that marriage is such a deep and holistic connection that sharing our spouse sexually with someone else is nothing short of betrayal. Our marriages may grow cold and boring. We may harden ourselves to this reality. Yet even the most brazen adulterer feels pangs of guilt. Even this most open-minded wife feels a twinge of jealousy for her husband’s mistress.

These near primal feelings can’t be “redefined” out of existence, because God hardwired us this way. In Genesis 3, when God marries Adam and Eve, the two “become one flesh.” Jesus says that when one commits adultery or seeks unjust divorce, he attempts to break something which God himself made. When we break what God made, we experience pain, confusion, heartache, and suffering, not as a punishment, but as a natural result.

When you take a fish out of water it can’t breath, because it was made to breath in water alone. When you remove sexual faithfulness from marriage, the marriage suffocates because marriage was made as a holistic, binding, lifelong union. Extramarital sex unbinds promises. It betrays marriage’s unique physical/spiritual expression of oneness by sharing it. It makes marriage trivial.

What is an “open marriage” after all? A bizarre happiness contract? What’s its purpose? What end does the commitment serve? I’m not sure what Haisha thinks marriage is, only what she thinks marriage isn’t. When she redefines marriage, she undefines it. She’s invents something which is so far from marriage, that it ought not share the same English term. Call it what she may, it’s not a marriage.

Our two definitions cannot coexist because they divide at a critical juncture in worldview. She believes that mankind defines existence. I believe that existence is predefined by a creator. She believes that humans define right and wrong. I believe that right and wrong predate our existence. She believes that marriage is what men and women make it. I believe that marriage is what God made it.

Her article reveals what’s up for grabs when we start redefining age old institutions to whatever pleases our fancy. It sounds like harmless semantics. It sounds progressive. In reality redefinition constitutes a whole new way of seeing the world. It invites the sin of hubris: the prideful belief that we few tiny mammals, who live for a hairsbreadth on a blue dot in the middle of the universe are wise enough to define reality. Can you really believe that? That’s a throne too big for me. I’m happy to admit that a far greater being filled it before this universe came into being.

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