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Supreme Court of the United States

The Future of Marriage and Family, According to The Giver

October 17, 2017

“Do you love me?” Jonas asks his father hesitantly.

Love?” Jonas’s little sister asks, “What’s ‘love’?”

“Precision of language!” their mother snaps. “Jonas is using a word so antiquated, it has no meaning in our society.”

His father seems puzzled. “If you mean, am I proud of you for your accomplishments, then yes.”

Jonas’s face falls.

What happens when everyone is viewed not just as being equal, but the same?

No need for diversity. No need for emotion. No need for love. Just plain, passionless people whose sole purpose is to protect a community of sameness disguised as perfection.

This is the glimpse of what such a society could look like in the movie The Giver, now playing in theaters. It’s a society that, for the sake of avoiding conflict and all that comes with it, everything is decided for you.

  • Spouses are assigned to each other, and babies are separated from their birth parents and assigned to “family units.”
  • These “family units” live together in identical “dwellings,” in perfectly planned “communities.”
  • Sexual urges or “stirrings” are controlled by pills.
  • And “love” is an antiquated term with no meaning.

As far as the Elders are concerned, all of this is acceptable. After all, in their eyes, sacrificing these things is a small price to pay to rid the community of rejection, pain, and suffering. So while there’s no potential for divorce, there’s also no possibility for strong, healthy marriages that lead to strong, healthy families that lead to a strong, healthy society.

Every marriage is the same. Every family unit is the same. Every opinion is the same. And it’s all designed to protect conformity.

But this could never happen in our world, right? We’ll manage to avoid such dystopian societies. Yet, isn’t this conformity exactly what “tolerance,” a term thrown around a lot in today’s society, seeks?

It doesn’t take much to realize we are heading down this path right now as, little by little, we are forced to sacrifice our beliefs on marriage and the family all for the sake of tolerance and sameness.

We can see this clearly in cases like:

  • Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, where florist Barronelle Stutzman is forced to go against her beliefs by participating in a same-sex wedding ceremony or face lawsuits from the state attorney general.
  • Bishop v. Smith, where  two same-sex couples sued Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith after she declined to issue them marriage licenses because Oklahoma’s laws affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
  • Brooker v. Franks, where Emily Brooker, a student majoring in social work at Missouri State University, was charged with the highest level of academic violation for not endorsing adoption by same-sex couples.

These cases are real. This problem is real in our own society. And while this tolerance may not have reached the totalitarianism depicted in The Giver, we can’t sit idly by and wait until we get there.

Marriage is the foundation of society. Love is the foundation of marriage, and that love is so strong it forms a family through procreation. And children deserve a stable family relationship and the diverse benefits that both a mother and a father bring.

Without these ingredients, we can’t have a strong and healthy society.

See the movie. Discuss it with your friends and family. But don’t just make this about awareness, for awareness only gets us stirred up enough to think about the issue. This is about supporting marriage—the foundation of society. We must do something.

It’s about how we vote.

It’s about making sure our marriages represent real, true holy matrimony to the world around us.

And it’s about protecting the family and the home now.

As we see at one point in the film, while Jonas describes a memory he received to the Giver.

“It was a place, with people living in it.”

“It’s called, ‘Home.’” The Giver explains.

“’Home’?” Jonas says the new word slowly. “Like a Dwelling?”

“No,” The Giver answers. “'Home’ is … more.”

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