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People were shocked – shocked, I tell you – when I raised the issue of “consummation” for the first time in the debate over so-called “same-sex marriage.”
Some said they had never heard of the idea that a marriage is null and void without the act of consummation. It shows you how much Americans have been dumbed down over the years about a concept so foundational to the idea of marriage.
Marriage has always been an institution centered around procreation and the raising of children. If a marriage could not be consummated, legally it has been grounds for annulment. This is quite apart from the physical problems that might pose barriers to conception and childbirth.
The legal record is clear on this: Consummation of a marriage requires “ordinary and complete” rather than “partial and imperfect” sexual intercourse, including erection and penetration between a man and a woman, regardless of whether the husband might be sterile or the woman might be barren, according to Dr. Stephen Lushington, a 19th century attorney, judge, member of Parliament and an opponent of slavery and capital punishment, in a famous court precedent in 1845.
Is there any way to suggest that the sexual activity between two men or two women could be described as “ordinary and complete”?
There were similar rulings more recently in America.
In 1987, in Ford v Ford, a couple married while the husband was in prison. He refused to consummate the marriage, either while in prison or later. The petition for annulment was granted.
Many states explicitly require by law consummation of marriage for the vows to be considered valid. They include Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin.
That’s not to say other states won’t grant annulments of marriages in which consummation failed. It is the most compelling and common reason for them to be granted by civil authorities.
None of this should be surprising to us today, yet it illustrates just how murky the subject of marriage has become since the very recent debate over so-called “same-sex marriage.”
Of course, my objections to “same-sex marriage” are hardly limited to the fact that they cannot be consummated – a notion at the very heart of the institution of marriage for the last 5,000 years. My primary objection, however, is very much related to this test. The proponents of “same-sex marriage” are attempting to redefine fundamentally the very concept of marriage – to twist it and distort it into something it was never designed to be.
Can two men or two women shack up together and do what they want to do sexually? Yes, they can. And they have no doubt done that for thousands of years. But it has never before been labeled marriage. That would require a complete redefinition of a 6,000-year-old institution that forms the cornerstone of civilization.
That’s why I oppose this very new social experiment.
From my perspective as a Bible-believing Christian, God authored marriage as a union of one man and one woman in Genesis. Jesus affirmed it in the gospels. That settles it for me. Because of these facts, I have no doubts about the grave ramifications of putting asunder what God ordained.
However, I understand not everyone shares my convictions and worldview. I wish they did, but they don’t. So, I make the case for shared values on the basis of the rule of law, the will of the people, historical and legal precedents and the fact that social experiments of the kind now being proposed are likely to have grave unintended and unforeseen consequences.
Until the proponents of “same-sex marriage” can explain how they consummate their so-called marriages, the legal argument against it is rather compelling.
Perhaps one of the 31 states currently defending popular marriage initiatives approved by voters might like to explore this legal argument.