Webster as of 2008 defines marriage as: "(1): the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as a husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. (2): the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage."
Here is the Webster 1828 dictionary definition of marriage: "(1): The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children." Note that Webster relates current and common use of words in a culture.
The difference between the two definitions is almost so different as to make one believe they are not the same word. When Mosiah discovered the people of Zarahemla, he could not understand them because their language had become corrupted. The source of the language corruption was the fact that no records had been brought with them.
The people of the United States have allowed the government to take over the religious institution of marriage. Moral decay in Western Civilization has given rise to the revised definition as reflected in Webter's Dictionary. The overt religious reference to God has been stripped away completely. The definition and semantics of this word have obviously changed for the majority of society since 1828.
Per the 1828 definition, marriage is (1) a contract between a man and a woman; (2) it is the means of securing the well being, education, nourishment and prosperity of children, (3) it is a sacred obligation between a man and a woman to remain faithful and true to one another. By removing the critical components of the true definition, marriage has evolved into nothing more than a simple contract which can be voided anytime one party is tired of the arrangement.
A contract is an agreement creating and defining the obligations between two or more parties. Both parties have obligations to one another. The debt incurred by one is the debt of the other. The assets acquired by one are the assets of the other. The two parties contract in essence to become parties to a single entity.
The sacred obligation to remain true and faithful to one another is the covenant aspect of marriage. A covenant is a solemn promise to engage in, or refrain from a specified action. In contrast to a contract, it is a one way agreement whereby the covenanter is the only party bound by the promise. It may have conditions and prerequisites that qualify the undertaking, but there is no inherent agreement by such other parties to fulfill those requirements. In this sense only person making the covenant can break it.
A popular passage from traditional marriage ceremonies includes the following: "Do you take this woman, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, rich or poor, until death do you part?" The officiator of such a ceremony is asking one party to make a solemn promise (covenant) to love and cherish his wife even if she becomes ill, poor, disabled, disfigured. So for example, something happens to her in the future and she is burned in an accident and becomes disfigured. The man becomes revolted at her appearance and abandons her. Such a man has broken his solemn promise (covenant). She did not break any covenant as remaining perfectly healthy was not a condition of the covenant. Her husband promised to love her no matter what physical circumstances might occur in life.
The current Webster definition reflects a view of marriage nearly devoid of its original meaning. No matter what laws are passed, no matter how the definitions are reworded to appeal to the thought police, my view of marriage is and always shall be based on its original meaning. Our civilization is founded upon the fruits the original definition has provided. Even the phrase "the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them" has been removed.
I am thankful for the modern day prophets who offer the Lord's will and counsel regarding critical issues such as marriage. I am grateful and proud to be a supporter and activitst for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in my home state of California. It is time people reaffirm what the true meaning and definition of marriage is. It is time we stop letting outside influences such as government, media, and activist groups change the meaning of the word in our society. Marriage the way the Lord intends, is the most noble union between a man and a woman that can be achieved in mortality. It is an ideal to aspire to and proclaim.
Below is a video that was sent to me by my Bishop. It was made by CatholicVote.com. It is a powerful message regarding the moral issues that face our nation this next election day.