Redefining Marriage

Rabbi Gil Student blogs: "R. Yair Hoffman explains his opposition to the redefinition of marriage (link). If you ask me, I’d say that we should make civil unions that have all the rights of marriage but not the name, so that we end all discrimination but allow for traditional definitions."

Shmuel posts: "The radicals will not be satisfied with civil unions unless marriage is abolished other than as a religious institution exclusively."

MBG posts: the linked article is very simplistic and seems to jump into this debate without knowing much about it, and therefore without anticipating any counteraguments.

for example:

*what scientific research is he referring to?
*even assuming "proof" that children raised by heterosexual married couples are more "normal" than all others, does it address whether children of gay couples will be better or worse off if their parents are married vs. just living together?

*completely ignoring that our idea of "marriage" (romantic love, no fault divorce, etc) is hardly millenia old. i mean, one could perhaps argue that _this_ (same sex marriage) is really the change that finally will destroy marriage, but one has to at least be aware that people have asserted that about basically every other change in recent memory.

also, the nuremberg reference struck me as a not so subtle gays = nazis fearmongering tactic without much substance behind it.

CHANOKH POSTS: Why should there even be civil unions or non-religious marriages? Isn’t that discriminatory to singles, non-committing people, or people in love relationships involving more than two people? Why should the State be involved in who does what with whom in the privacy of their home?

SHMUEL POSTS: Perhaps the whole idea of marriage and union should be separated from a legal partnership. Every individual would have the right to enter into an exclusive contract with another person who would be entitled to a particular set of legal considerations such as inheritance upon death, decreasing tax liability, and right to shared health insurance. This would be a legal business relationship not predicated upon gender or living arrangements.

SHUA POSTS: In the lands of our diaspora we Jews are merely sojourners, temporary guests (whether wanted by our host countries or not) who are bidden to remain loyal to Torah and apart from any aspect of the secular/gentile lifestyle which is not consonant with Torah.

It follows that the languages that we speak in the diaspora are borrowed for practical purposes only. The English language word "marriage" (and for that matter "divorce") reflects neither any law, custom or ‘meaning’ in Lashon HaKodeh, the language of Torah. And Torah alone reflects for us what is ’emes’ and therefore what is ‘reality.’

"Kiddushin" defines for us the concept of the union of an "ish" with an "isha". Any other word, reflecting any other concept in any other language or culture is simply a non- reality and is therefore irrelevant to us.

That we bother to register for a marriage certificate at town hall is merely a legal practicality. They could call it "wptgigajkep" for all we care. What difference does it make? And so I just don’t understand the fuss over mamesh, nothing.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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