In the first week of September, 2015, Ms. Kim Davis, the County Clerk of Rowan County of Kentucky State, USA, was jailed on the order of the District Court for refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple. She was however released after 5 days under the condition that she not interfere with the licensing process. She is a devout Catholic and when asked by media as to her opinion of same-sex marriages, she said, “It is not of God.”

The nationwide legalization of same-sex marriages in the USA on the 26th of June, 2015 was a concrete step in a new unprecedented and unorthodox direction of social structure that is going to shape much of the future of the world’s social formation. It does bring up issues of perception from many angles of vision such as social, philosophical, moral, emotional and religious among many others. Well, the meaning of marriage has been visibly evolving quite rapidly over the last century.

Traditionally, a person used to be of either of the two marital statuses namely single and married. This number has been increasing over the decades of the last century and today the number of statuses is alarming — single, married, divorced, separated, cohabited, widowed, civil union, domestic partnership, etc. and with the newly introduced law of same-sex marriage, we may have gay-married, lesbian-married statuses and we cannot imagine what names might come up with bi-sexual and trans-sexual relationships that might be legalized in the future.

With all these complications arising, the very purpose of the institution of marriage is becoming increasingly blurry. It is therefore prudent to understand its etymology in order to clarify its real purpose. Firstly, it is important to note that it is only in human society that we have the institution of marriage. There is no such regulation in animal life. Why do humans have this rule and many other rules as well? What is the difference between a human and an animal?

The Vedic literatures give precise and unequivocal answers to these essential questions. Such clarity is possible only if the source of such knowledge is perfect. No one in this world is perfect. But God is not from this world and therefore He is perfect. Even the stalwart scholar Śrīpada Śaṅkarācārya proclaimed that nārāyaṇa paro ‘vyaktāt, “Lord Nārāyaṇa is beyond this cosmic manifestation.” Moreover, the great scripture Śrīmad Bhāgavatam says vedo nārāyaṇa sākṣāt, “The Vedas are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa.” Lord Kṛṣṇa also proclaims directly in the Bhagavad-gītā that vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham, “I am the compiler and I am the knower of the Vedas.” Therefore the Vedic knowledge is above the defective mental perception of imperfect beings of this world and therefore above all debate.

The Vedic literature called Hitopadeśa clearly defines the distinction between man and animal as follows:

āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunaṁ ca

samānyam etat paśubhir narāṇām

dharmo hi teṣām adhiko viśeṣo

dharmeṇa hīnaḥ paśubhiḥ samānaḥ

“Eating, sleeping, sex, and defense — these four principles are common to both human beings and animals. The distinction between human life and animal life is that a man can search after God but an animal cannot. That is the difference. Therefore a man without that urge for searching after God is no better than an animal.”

So God consciousness is the prerogative of the human being. Human intelligence is meant for ending all problems for good and that is possible by going back to the kingdom of God and not returning to the repeated cycle of birth and death. Our disobedience to God is keeping us in this material world and our obedience to Him will qualify us to return to His eternal kingdom. So our lives should be molded in such a way that we remain always obedient to God.

Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is the self-same God, has declared in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.11] that dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu kāmo ’smi, “I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles.” What is that religious sex life? That is explained in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam [11.5.13] as

evaṁ vyavāyaḥ prajayā na ratyā

imaṁ viśuddhaṁ na viduḥ sva-dharmam

“Religious sex life is permitted but only in marriage for begetting children, and not for sensuous exploitation of the body. Unfortunately however, the less intelligent materialists cannot understand that their duties in life should be performed purely on the spiritual platform.”

Now, according to the above Vedic statement, marriage is only meant for begetting children. So homosexuality is totally ruled out of the purview of religious sex life. Only due to a lack of God consciousness or Kṛṣṇa consciousness do humans engage in unrestricted sensual enjoyment not knowing their dark consequences.

The impetuous mind of the human being is always inclined towards base tendencies, one of them being unrestricted sex. However, such behavior only awards either an animal body or a term in hell in the future. Kṛṣṇa is not impractical at the same time by totally condemning it. He allows it under the restricted license of marriage that entrusts great spiritual responsibility to the parents. What is that responsibility? A great majority of people think that providing the material necessities of life for the children is the only responsibility of the parents. But Śrīmad Bhāgavatam [5.5.18] enjoins that it is much more than that.

gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt

pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt

daivaṁ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān

na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum

“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.”

The rigid instruction is that the parents must raise their children in God consciousness and prepare them for an eternal life in the kingdom of God just after giving up the present material body.

Apart from the aim that is liberation from material life, there are innumerable benefits even in this world if everyone follows these scriptural regulations. Children are the world’s future. Sex is not therefore just a private affair but a social and a spiritual responsibility. The quality of social intercourse depends very much on the upbringing of each and every individual. If people are brought up in godlessness, the whole world will become hellish and if everyone is brought up in God consciousness, then the entire humanity can live peacefully with a single meaningful purpose — to glorify God and thus tread the path of liberation from all miseries arising from material contact.

The Bhagavad-gītā [16.7-9] describes the propensities of the atheistic or demoniac class of people as follows: “Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them. They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.”

Terrorism, wars, corruption, unethical capitalism, pollution, health problems, the entire range of social problems including crime, misdirected youth, broken families, domestic abuse, drug abuse, alcohol and gambling and their resultant negative impact on society are just a few problems that the world faces today and all of that is fundamentally the result of irreligiosity and consequently, irresponsible parentage.

In Bhagavad-gītā [16.1-3], The Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa said: Fearlessness; purification of one’s existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the Vedas; austerity; simplicity; nonviolence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor – these transcendental qualities belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.”

We can only imagine how peaceful the whole world will be if the entire world population is trained in these virtues. Billions upon billions of dollars are being spent today on a global scale to address the social problems but with hardly any tangible result.  The world is becoming more and more hellish day by day. But when the population is trained in God consciousness, there shall automatically be no more need to address these problems as they would not even exist in the first place. When one becomes a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, he automatically acquires all the above-mentioned good qualities as confirmed in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam [5.18.12]:

yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā

sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ

harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā

manorathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ

“All the exalted godly qualities such as religion, knowledge and renunciation become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva (Kṛṣṇa). On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must be under the grip of the Lord’s external illusory energy and therefore blind to self-realization.”

So it all boils down to upbringing and proper upbringing depends on a proper social structure as laid down by Kṛṣṇa Himself. From godlessness springs forth a distorted society that is not at all progressive but highly regressive. The sacred institution of marriage is currently suffering a hemorrhage as a result of godlessness and the remedy to this great problem is the injection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness among humanity. This is easily executed in this age through the process of hearing about Kṛṣṇa from authentic Vedic literatures like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and chanting the holy names of Kṛṣṇa:

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa

kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare

hare rāma hare rāma

rāma rāma hare hare

Parents and children can get together and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and discuss Bhagavad-gītā in their homes and the purification resulting from such a simple yet powerful process sets everything in right order.(end)