Same Sex Marriage (& The Argument from Definition)

For those who debate the issue of same sex marriage, will know that when one is not talking about naturalism, nor religious beliefs opposing homosexuality (or rather the "act" of honosexuality). Opponents of same sex marriage will use the argument of definition.

But wait, by definition; marriage is also between two persons of the same gender. At least according to the Oxford English Dictionary it is. Previously it was just their free online dictionary available on their website that defined marriage to include same sex unions and marriages as well as the more traditional variations. Now Oxford have extended this to their printed dictionaries. The article discussing this can be read here

For those wondering what exactly this definition entails:

"(in some jurisdictions) a formal union between partners of the same sex."

Do you think this will assist in promoting human equality? I can only hope so. And a better question to ask might be will this end the argument from definition as we know it? I think its safe to say that only time will tell

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The former definition, however, is not expunged, and gay marriage still has its own reference. The dictionary is simply reflecting a change in the way the word is used. As far as I am aware Christians define marriage according to what the Bible instituted in Matthew 19, not for Oxford to define or change.

Very true, however it seems to me that the former definition is defining a religious ideal of marriage. They may still think the bible is a legitimate document to define words in the english language but its so very easy to argue against that, by simply reminding them that the bible is not an authority on the English language. 

Do you think this will assist in promoting human equality?

Let's be real here Keith, people oppose gay marriage because they are either afraid or hateful of gays... the definition of marriage never had anything to do with it.

will this end the argument from definition as we know it?

Not likely... there are other places where the word marriage is defined. The most important is where it is defined by the state.


Archbishop of Canterbury (Anglican equivalent of the Pope) saying "We have to be really, really repentant" for our Homophobia.

The morals of the people have outpaced those of the church - yet again.  They are used to playing 'catch-up' - give them another century and they might even get to where we are now.  Of course we will have moved forward again - but then a few Hail Mary's and wearing a hair shirt for a week will do nicely for whatever apology is then felt to be due.

The problem the Church has is that it's an authoritarian structure, and as such it is supposed to be a repository and dispenser of eternal and unchanging truth. If they start letting doctrine change in response to changes in the public mind... Well, that's pretty much the end of religion, isn't it?!

A dictionary shouldn't be in the business of promoting anything. Their purpose is just to reflect common usage. 

Well yes. But in the interest of debate it can be a step in the right direction. If one is to debate marriage equality with a fundamentalist theist for example, they may well likely say

"well the definition of marriage is one man and one woman"

and at least now I can say

"Well actually, it isn't just defined as that anymore. So you are wrong"

The change in the dictionary reflects how the public's use of the word is evolving.

Oh it is I don't deny that. But my point that I'm making here is, regardless to whether one thinks dictionary definitions promote anything one way or the other. The use of a dictionary definition is used as a debate tactic, I've seen this many times. 

Sometimes this is used to a gay atheists advantage. Lets say a theists says that I am unnatural. I could say,

"well actually by definition the word natural means something that exists in the natural world. So by pure definition you are wrong"

So it may not be impacting the entire world and society as a whole but it can be a very useful tool for debating 

And all this time I thought "same sex marriage" was a marriage that always had the same old sex. OK well then I guess I'm all for it.

Lol well I could have just said "gay marriage" but same sex marriage sounds more classy 


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