Transformational Marriage: The Religious Case for Supporting Same-Sex Marriage
The Contested Place of Religion in Family Life, p. 375, 2018 (Cambridge University Press) (ed., Robin Fretwell Wilson), Forthcoming
55 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 5, 2017
Many people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate currently presume that the legalization of same-sex marriage reflects a triumph of secular values in a religious-secular culture war. That assumption is fomenting conflict and division, which threatens interests of communities on both sides of this debate.
The assumption is also wrong. Beginning in the 16th to 17th centuries, the social institution of marriage underwent major developments from a pragmatic and political institution toward a love-based institution, with new and expanded religious, spiritual and moral potential. This period witnessed the emergence of what this chapter calls “transformational marriage.” Transformational marriage is a social institution that serves as a vehicle for the maturation of early romantic desire into the psychological capacities needed to break free from the bondage of self and attain greater personal communion with God, with the divine, or with the totality of life—however one conceives of these concepts. Maturation out of the self, and a life aimed merely at selfish desire, is a force for good, which can be understood by religious believers of many faiths and secular people alike.
This chapter draws on Pope Francis's work in Amor Laetitia (On Love in the Family) to distil the concept of a transformational marriage. The value of transformational marriage is not limited to opposite-sex couples. Nor are the traditional scriptural passages cited against same-sex marriage applicable to love-based relationships of a transformational variety. To oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds can thus generate underappreciated religious and spiritual costs for many people. A better understanding of the religious and psychological functions—or spirit—of transformational marriage should reorient religious debates over marriage from whom to allow into the institution to how best to support love's transformative potential. That understanding would help to remove same-sex marriage from the contemporary culture wars between religious and secular values—a good consequence for all people involved.
Keywords: masterpiece, LGBT, same-sex marriage, LGBT, religious liberty, free speech
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