Reasons to Marry

Throughout the ages, many different reasons or motives for marriage have existed.  Sometimes there were political reasons, sometimes economical reasons.  Sometimes marriages were arranged by parents or other people in society.  Sometimes people were married in name only and did not treat each other as lovers.  I wish to explore reasons why people in modern-day America marry.  With the possible exception of celebrities, and perhaps politicians, I will assume that these reasons are personal and not superficial, such as the reasons aforementioned.

Lawrence Kohlberg devised a scheme including 6 stages of moral development.  Let's use this model in discussing possible reasons that people would marry.  In particular, I wish to discuss reasons why a homosexual would marry a member of the opposite sex.

Stage 1: Obedience and punishment driven.  In this stage, people make decisions based on the punishment attached to them.  The more severe a punishment for a specific act, the more "bad" that act is perceived to be.  In general, possible punishments which would cause a person to marry are that they would not be able to have children otherwise, or that their family/society might look down on them for remaining unmarried.  These two pressures are actually very high in the Mormon culture.  There is a quote (whether real or made-up, I am uncertain) from Brigham Young (the church's second president) is often recited to men who decide to put marriage off.  The quote is something to the effect of "Any man who remains unmarried after the age of 25 is a menace to society."  So, a young man might decide to marry in the interest of avoiding becoming a menace to society.

Stage 2: Self-interest driven.  In this stage, decisions are made based on the question "What's in it for me?"  Perhaps a person might marry to have the privilege of stating that they have a spouse ("Look at me!  I'm married.").  Or perhaps it may be to fill sexual needs.  In the instance of a homosexual, I would say that the former reason is much more likely than the latter, since many homosexuals do not even enjoy sex with a member of the opposite sex, but it is very likely that a member of a homophobic society (such as Mormon culture) would choose to marry in a heterosexual marriage merely to show society that they have a spouse.

Stage 3: Interpersonal accord and conformity driven.  People in this stage strive to be a "good boy" or "good girl" by filling social roles imposed on them.  Perhaps a person in this stage would marry because that's what people of "marriageable age" are expected to do.  "If I want to fit in with my friends (who are all getting married) then I should get married too."  A homosexual, truly wishing to marry a member of the same sex, would marry someone of the opposite sex in order to fit in with the rest of society, since that is what they are expected to do.

Stage 4: Authority and social order obedience driven.  In this stage, maintaining order in society is the drive.  People follow laws and social dictums in order to maintain this order.  In a recent address given by the president of the Mormon church, Thomas Monson quoted a previous president of the church, Harold Lee, who stated "We are not doing our duty as holders of the priesthood when we go beyond the marriageable age and withhold ourselves from an honorable marriage to these lovely women."  This is a statement to the effect of "Society (within the body of priesthood brethren) breaks down when people remain single, so you should marry to maintain that order."  The "duty" of priesthood brethren to marry is emphasized quite heavily in the church.  In fact, during the last General Conference (the first weekend in April this year), several of the speakers mentioned the importance of marrying and not putting off this important step in life.  So, a homosexual might marry someone of the opposite sex in order to preserve this order of the priesthood or in society at large.

Stage 5: Social contract driven.  Here, laws are regarded as social contracts rather that strict edicts.  If a law does not suit the general welfare then it should be changed to meet the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  A homosexual in this stage would push for the legalization of gay marriage, so as to be enabled to marry the person that they truly love (which would be a person of the same sex).  Rather than simply marrying a person of the opposite sex simply because of external pressures, a gay person would state and defend the belief that all people should be allowed to marry the person of their choice--whether it be a person of the same sex or of the opposite sex.

Stage 6: Universal ethical principles driven. In this stage, the individual acts because it is right, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal, or previously agreed upon.  To be fair, there are those who are homosexual and yet believe that homosexual behavior is wrong.  Those individuals would refrain from marrying someone of the same sex, but not out of fear of what their society or church might think, but because they truly believe that it is wrong.  Such an individual may decide to marry someone of the opposite sex, but only because they truly feel that they can love and cherish such a person, and not because they  are expected to do so.  However, a homosexual who does not believe that homosexual behavior is sin would find a mate (of the same sex) and decide to be with them, regardless of whether the current laws allowed such a union to be recognized by the state, and also regardless of whether the surrounding community/family supported such an action.

I cannot say which stage I fall into.  I would love to say that I'm in stage 6, but I think most people (who really thought about it) would wish to say the same.  Whether I am or not, or whether I ever have been at any point in my life, I do know that my decision to marry a man is resolute.  It is not out of spite for a religion that oppresses homosexuals.  It is not out of a desire to hurt or offend my family or my society.   It is not merely to get attention or to cause commotion.  I truly and sincerely feel that it is the right thing to do.  I believe that gay marriage is just as moral as straight marriage, and I will enter this wonderful institution of marriage with a man.  If there were no place on Earth where gay marriage were legal, I would still enter a relationship with a man and we would consider ourselves to be married, even though no government would acknowledge it.

For what precise reason I married my dear wife, I cannot say.  Again, I would like to say that I was in stage 6 when doing so--that I truly felt in my heart that it was the right thing to do.  But, was it also because of duty?  Was it because I'm expected to marry a woman because I'm a man?  Was it because I wanted to preserve order in my family?  Was it because I'm taught in my religion that a man must marry a woman in order to attain the highest degree of glory in Heaven in the life to come?  I cannot say--perhaps it was and perhaps it was not.  I can say that I loved Karen very much and I would not have married her if I did not love her.  My three years with her were wonderful, and both of us were filled with happiness during the time that we shared together.