RELG-455 Senior Inquiry

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2017


History | Religion | United States History

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

Words often change meaning over time. For example, until the 1960s, the word “gay” meant “Light-hearted and carefree” or “Brightly coloured; showy”.[1] But after the 1960’s, the definition of “gay” drastically changed, to meaning a “homosexual.”[2]When you're with the Flintstones, Have a yabba dabba-do time A dabba-do time, We'll have a gay old time!”[3] This means that when we look at the theme song for the classic cartoon The Flinstones, we should not apply our definition of what gay means to how it is used in the theme song. Definitions of marriage work much in the same way as any other definition. The definition is reliant on the repeated use of an act or word. Looking over the course of American history, marriage has been in a constant state of change. Marriage was used by immigrant women in Jamestown as a way to gain wealth and social standing. In the 1800s, personal agency entered the practice of marriage and women and men viewed love as the driving force. During the American Civil War, the ties between extensive courtship practices and the involvement of the betrothed’s families in the marriage was lessened. There were many who tried to claim that these changes were tearing down the institution of marriage. We now live in a climate that seems to be speaking with similar rhetoric.

Proponents for traditional marriage believe that same-sex marriage goes against something that is fundamental for the practice of proper marriage. Looking at the history of marriage in America, it is hard to conclude that this is widely accepted throughout American history. Marriage holds many economic and societal roles that are not often talked about by proponents of traditional marriage. Marriage has always been defined retroactively by people who are attempting to address changes in how marriage is practiced and the modern argument about traditional marriage is a part of this continued trend. Marriage is defined by how people practice it, not by some arbitrary definition.

[1] “Gay - Definition of Gay in English | Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English. Accessed January 24, 2017.

[2] Ibid

[3] The Flintstones. Animation, Comedy, Family, 1960.

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