Pretty simple, right? Grab two slices of bread, slather one with peanut butter and the other with jelly, stick them together, and there you go!
Really pretty easy. Straight-forward.
What if, say, I were to put peanut butter on both slices and put them together? Could I rightly call it a "peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" Umm...no...obviously. There's no jelly!
And let's say I were to slather jelly on both pieces of bread, leaving my Peter Pan jar in the cabinet? I might have a jelly sandwich, but I wouldn't have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
It's definitional, isn't it?
If I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I need both peanut butter and jelly.
Double peanut butter won't suffice. Extra jelly won't make up for the lack of that nutty, crunch deliciousness. You need the sweet and the salty, the fruit and the nut. They are different and, because of their differences, they are beautifully complementary.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about a recent experience I had just last weekend. I was pushing Mary on the swing at the nearby playground and couldn't help but overhear the conversation taking place between two ten-year-old boys on the swings beside us.
"Well," began the one boy to his companion, "If you have a man and man, that's a husband and a husband. If there's a woman and a woman, it's a wife and a wife. And if there is a man and woman, you have a husband and a wife."
I felt a range of emotions, but one of the strongest was amazement--amazement that what used to be so simple, so obvious, has become anything but that for many people.
Marriage is a religious thing (for Catholics, it's a sacrament), but it's not exclusively religious. It's something that goes back to the very beginning of the human race and covers all creeds, all continents. And when you look at marriage as an institution, you consistently--no matter the time, the people, the faith, the location--find two very basic, very critical things:
1. It's a man and a woman.
2. It's for the purpose of raising children.
Just like our peanut butter and jelly sandwich, people are not all the same. There are women; there are men. These two different sexes are just that...different. Equal in dignity, but different. Men and women are physically different, but they are also different in the way they think, feel, interact, and express themselves.
When it comes to raising children, it has been statistically proven, time and time again, that children best thrive in a home environment where there is a mother and a father in a committed, total, faithful marriage relationship. Why? The child is receiving the wisdom, strengths, and gifts that are inherently characteristic of a man and a woman.
My husband gives Mary something I cannot give her, because he is a man. And I give something to Mary he cannot provide, because I am a woman.
But, let's even take a step back. Before we can discuss raising children, let's consider the actual conception of children. It's built into our very natures. No matter your faith, look at the biology. Natural reasoning tells us that it takes a man and a woman (not a man and a man, or a woman and a woman) to create new life.
Marriage is uniting two persons in every possible way--two becoming one--which is naturally only physically possible between a man and a woman.
"That's discrimination. If two women love each other, why can't they get married?" you might be asking yourself.
I don't want to deny people rights to which they are entitled. If two woman want the same tax advantages as a married couple or the same legal standing when it comes to health proxies, I have absolutely, positively no problem with that.
But I do have a problem with changing something that can't be changed. You can't change the institution of marriage--which has existed for all of history in a certain way (for good reason) and which is physically "written" into the complementary bodies of man and woman--to cater to a particular group's desire.
Marriage isn't just about love. If "all you need is love," then what's to stop us from calling the union of a man and his dog "marriage?" Or if you have two sisters, sharing an apartment together...could they be considered "married?"
Marriage is the loving commitment of a man and woman to become one flesh with the purpose of begetting and raising children.
The family is the fundamental unit for civilization. It has been from the very beginning. And it's in society's best interest to protect and defend the family.
Marriage needs a man and a woman, just like PB & J needs peanut butter and jelly.