Ehrlich ignores evolution of marriage

In his column against gay marriage,Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.once again demonstrates why he is not the true heir and successor to Ron Smith ("Drawing a line at same-sex marriage," April 15). Mr. Smith and his keen intellect pursued truth whether it agreed with his prior beliefs or not while Mr. Ehrlich has shown again that he couches partisan viewpoints in intellectual language to disguise the truth.

There is, indeed, a likely coalition against the gay marriage act. Leaders in my own faith, the Catholic Church, are drumming up a bandwagon to get signatures for referendum against the act. I won't be signing it. Opponents all blindly and stubbornly ignore the fact that we are at this point recognizing the validity of gay marriage not in spite of Christian beliefs, but because of them.

There has already been a long evolution of marriage. Contrary to Mr. Ehrlich, Catholic bishops, and preachers who legislate, the word, "marriage," today doesn't mean at all the same thing it has meant through history. In the pre-Christian Greek world, marriage between a man and a woman was a social duty. This was not uncommon in the Jewish scriptures, too. A large part of marriage was economic and political: Young women were often married off to older established men to get them out of their families, to see that their economic future was assured, and often to cement ties or alliances between families, tribes, city-states and nations. Our current understanding of love between two people as a basis of marriage is part of the evolution of marriage, and a more modern one at that. Love stories such as the Song of Solomon and Hosea were remarkable because of their exceptionality, not their commonality.

Christianity is largely responsible for the development of the notion of sacrificial love between two marriage partners, a mirroring of the love of God for his people. Even as late as the middle ages, marriages were often arranged, and it took a good deal of preaching from religious leaders to decry the practice. Romeo and Juliet were remarkable for their love because otherwise they would likely have been forced to marry others to provide an extra alliance to their own warring families.

Today, we have already completely transformed the concept of marriage to a merging of two individuals based on a higher and completely sacrificial love to each other. The fact that up until now that arrangement was generally recognized as heterosexual is only one step along the very same path to the highest spiritual, democratic and humanistic attitude that started 2,000 years ago. The endorsement of gay marriage doesn't challenge our Christian heritage, it confirms it.

Mr. Ehrlich, and others like him, don't get that. You actually have to be open to truth to get it.

Samuel Castiglione, Randallstown

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