People seem to have trouble with definitions. I find that I often have to take time in my rants to define words that people have taken to mean something else. This rant, unfortunately, is no different.

I’m going to have to define something that has been around for millennia. It forms the very cornerstone of human relationships—and thereby human society—and it is one of the most sacred human interactions that has ever existed.

This thing that I am going to define is something that should need no definition.

Yet, in our modern times, it is something that has come out of focus and is frequently misunderstood. The institution that I am going to define has been cheapened and adjusted and refigured to the point that today, it is hardly recognizable.

I bring this particular subject up because it has recently come under the most frightening attack yet. There is a movement afoot to fundamentally change the definition of this word. Some celebrate this change as if it is a wondrous thing. I fear it, and I take it very seriously.

And I’m going to tell you why.

But first, I’m going to explain some things. You see, people tend to jump to conclusions, and if I didn’t include this little disclaimer there is a reasonable chance that I would be labeled any number of negative things which do not accurately apply to me.

I am NOT anti-gay. I cannot emphasize this enough. I do NOT hate people who engage in homosexual activity—far from it! I treat everybody with the same fair, reasonable amount of love and respect, regardless of their political affiliations, races, sexual preferences, religions, etc. This is what my Christian faith commands me to do.

Not only that, but I have openly and vocally defended some gay rights. In my July 3, 2003, rant, Sex Laws and Inconsistent Conservatives, I lambasted conservatives and Republicans for the intrusive sex laws that they so adore. I applauded the Supreme Court for shooting down the Texas sodomy law, which made some common forms of homosexual sex illegal.

Further, I believe that gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against in hiring, college admissions, or anywhere else. I also abhor violence against homosexuals, just as I abhor violence in general. I really don’t care if people want to engage in homosexual activity. It’s none of my business, and it’s none of the government’s business.

But I’m not exactly pro-gay either. As I said in that earlier rant, ” . . . I will come clean right now: I believe that homosexuality is a sin. Based on my own personal religious and ethical beliefs, I believe that men belong with women and women belong with men . . . [But] while I believe homosexuality is a sin, I have never discriminated against somebody who has chosen (or, as some believe, just happen to have) a homosexual lifestyle.”

So all of this talk brings me to the word I am going to define for you. I’m not going to define it myself, but rather I will show you what a nice, neutral dictionary has to say: marriage: n. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.

The American Heritage Dictionary has spoken.

If you don’t like what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say, then Webster’s Revised Unabridged won’t make you much happier: marriage: n. The act of marrying, or the state of being married; legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife; wedlock; matrimony.

Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Court attempted to overturn millennia of tradition, and the very definition of the word marriage, to set the stage for that state to become the first in the union to grant same-sex couples the right to marry (read a bit about that from FindLaw.com via CNN.com).

Opponents of the decision are attempting to amend the Massachusetts state constitution to expressly prohibit homosexual marriage, and it is still unclear how successful they will be.

Now, as I said, I don’t care if people are gay. That’s a-okay with me. I don’t mind if people engage in homosexual activity, and I don’t think such activity should be illegal. I also don’t really care if states choose to allow civil unions or some other kind of psuedo-marriage for gays. This allows homosexual partners a level of authority (in hospital visitation, etc.) similar to that of married couples.

But I do mind gay marriage.

I mind it because, aside being unnecessary when civil unions are allowed, allowing homosexuals to marry changes the very meaning of the word “marriage.” It broadens the term and, in a very fundamental way, cheapens it. Matrimony is about love, respect, and an honest desire to make two people into one—things that homosexuals can certainly desire and achieve—but it is also about more than that. It is about raising families. It is about about an age-old complementary relationship between men and women.

People can have relationships that are not based on these things, and they can be perfectly happy in those relationships. More power to you! But to call such a relationship a ‘marriage’ is simply inaccurate. Redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships takes some of the important central precepts of the institution out of the equation. It removes some of the meaning.

That should offend anyone who takes marriage seriously.

I think that marriage has been cheapened enough in these modern times. With a 50 percent divorce rate and the occasional gimmicky show biz ‘marriages’ (Britney Spears’s little stunt is a good example), the last thing we need now is a complete redefinition of the word. The institution of marriage is at the very foundation of our society, and, sadly, that foundation is increasingly weak.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court is attempting to weaken it even further, but they are not the only ones. Every day, people in this country become more accepting of marriage as temporary rather than permanent, an act of convenience rather than an act of devotion, and an act of sex rather than an act of love and family.

People have said that marriage, as a civil institution, cannot be limited to heterosexual male-female couples. But they have forgotten that marriage is first-and-foremost a sacred institution. It is a sacred institution that has changed too much already, and should not be changed any more.