I've since made most of the changes laid out in this tag proposal. This included the creation of the tag, the editing of its excerpt, the removal of , and the editing of the tag and tag excerpts.

To still be done:

  1. There may be questions misusing the tag. There are currently 117 questions with the tag and almost all of them were drafted before this proposal.
  2. There may be questions that should be tagged or . These tags were created relatively recently.

The actions taken can be seen in the tags history and on questions containing the tags.


We've had a recent headbutting concerning the [tag:marriage] tag. It started when a new user simply thought the tag ought to be inclusive of all the forms of marriage that various groups within Christianity accept. In hindsight, it wasn't the right course to jump in and make that first edit (yes, it was me), however, the tag, or tags, for these things do need clarification and rewrites.

Something does need to be done for these reasons:

  1. There is confusion on how to use the marriage tag. This is our primary concern; users need to be able to quickly learn from the excerpt how to use the tag.
  2. The topic is vast and emotionally charged. We need to tread lightly so as not to offend traditionalists and yet remain inclusive of non-traditionalists.

I propose that we create separate unique tags for the non-traditional forms of marriage and keep the marriage tag reserved for the traditional view.

Evidence of need:

There already exists the tag and for the most part the community seems to be using it appropriately. There is no tag nor other polygamy related tags, but I'm not sure we need them as polygamy seems to be inclusive of those variants. There is no monogamy tag, but I don't think we need that either as Christianity's traditional view of marriage is monogamous.

There does not currently exist any tag for gay marriage. There is the tag but it is not correctly used on a question about marriage, however the community is inappropriately using it on questions about same sex marriage. See the search results for questions containing gay marriage, same sex marriage, and to a lesser degree homosexual marriage.

How should questions about same sex marriage be tagged? There seems to be at least three terms to refer to this:

I've ordered these by personal preference and usage. To me, same-sex marriage is a far more appropriate and inclusive term and is just generic enough so it does not exclude any variants nor include any variants that are not the same type, as a plain tag would do. Gay marriage seems both informal and somewhat exclusive to male-male marriages. Homosexual marriage seems more formal, but has the same feeling of excluding female-female marriages. It also seems to bring some baggage with it. Homosexual is a loaded word, bringing biology, psychology, history, and religion with it. That's too much for a single tag to bear. is descriptive, formal, and carries no baggage.

The marriage tag proposal (pun intended):

  1. The tag will be reserved for traditionalist views of marriage, that is, strictly one male and one female. This is the vastly predominant view of marriage in Christianity, hence the confusion of attempting to lump in non-traditional views of marriage with it. The excerpt should read:

    Use this tag for questions about the attitudes and doctrines regarding traditional marriage (one male and one female). For non-traditional marriages, use the appropriate tags, such as or .

    Naturally, the info tab should be rewritten to clarify this, perhaps link to this meta post, and also include links to hallmark questions that are using the tag appropriately (as is already there).

  2. The tag will be created for any marriages that are meant to be between two males or two females. The tag excerpt should read:

    Use this tag for questions about the attitudes and doctrines regarding marriages that are between two males or two females. For other non-traditional forms of marriage use the appropriate tag, such as . For the traditional view of marriage (ie. one male and one female) use the tag.

    The info tab should be similar to the info tab for the tag, clarifying this, reasoning with a link to this meta post, and links to hallmark questions that use the tag appropriately.

  3. The tag should be reserved for any concurrent marriages revolving around a single person (ie. one male with two wives) or marriages that are inclusive of more than two persons, whether male or female (ie. "group marriages"). The tag excerpt should be changed to:

    Use this tag for questions about attitudes and doctrines regarding polygamous marriages. Polygamous marriages often describe one man married to multiple wives (polygyny); they can also describe one woman married to multiple men (polyandry). The tag also includes marriages among multiple men and multiple women ("group marriages").

    This excerpt is in large part brought to you by Matt Gutting. If a need arises to make separate tags for the kinds of polygamy, then we can do that then. Right now, I see no need. Like the others, the info tab should clarify the excerpt, link to this meta post for the reasoning, and link to hallmark questions that use the tag appropriately.

So how about it, C.SE? Will you accept my marriage tag proposal?

I attempted to follow this advice for when tag wikis need to be edited combined with our community need to beat the confusion:

  • The excerpt is the elevator pitch for the tag.
  • Avoid generically defining the concept behind a tag, unless it is highly specialized. [This seems necessary in this case.]
  • Concentrate on what a tag means to your community. [This was the driving point to break non-traditional marriages away from traditional marriage, the tag.]
  • Provide basic guidance on when to use the tag. [This was the paramount effort in drafting the above excerpts, which is why they all start with "Use this tag for ..."]

This meta post ultimately lead to this one: Suggestion for a minor change to the marriage tag excerpt

  • What problem is being solved by this proposal? Simply the sensibilities of those who think the marriage tag (not to be confused with actual marriage) is sacred? If so, then I think this is not an appropriate proposal--it violates the purpose of tags, for the sake of political (in?)correctness.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 1:10
  • @Flimzy You need to make an answer not a comment so I can downvote it. I think I made it clear why I've made this proposal. I actually spent about half of this post on the reasons and demonstrating the need. If there is legitimate criticism on my reasoning then I'm willing to hear it.
    – user3961
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 2:42
  • 1
    Overall, I agree with @Flimzy on this issue (no surprise there, I imagine). I just wanted to point out that bi people do actually exist, and may be in same-sex relationships. That's yet another reason not to use [homosexual-marriage] as a tag. Of course, genderqueer people also exist, and with them the entire concept of same-sex/opposite-sex can get a bit fuzzy.
    – TRiG
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 16:53
  • @TRiG If you have the time and desire I would love to see a full answer. I think if a need for "genderqueer" type tags arises we can tackle it then. I'm not sure such a need will ever arise.
    – user3961
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 18:38
  • Upvoted, but with an answer offering a potential modification - I'd appreciate your comments on it. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 14:03

5 Answers 5


I whole-heartedly accept your proposal. Thank you for a well-thought-out and measured recommendation. It sounds great as is. It won't entirely please everyone, of course, but it probably won't entirely offend anyone either, which is evidence of a good compromise. I think defining the marriage tag as the place for questions regarding the traditional form of marriage is appropriate, just as I would expect the marriage tag on Judaism.SE to be about the traditional Jewish view of marriage and the marriage tag on Islam.SE to be about the traditional Islamic view of marriage.


This isn't really an answer, but a comment that's too long for a comment.

I think the key thing to remember when discussing these tags is that we are not defining, nor defending doctrine. We are using language to talk about complex concepts about which there are many opinions.

Acknowledging that there is a word "marriage" which can mean to some, "one man, one woman" and to others "one man, 1,000 women", and to others "two men", or whatever, is not, by any means, to say that any of these forms are or are not legitimate according to any religions, moral, or social standard. It's simply acknowledging that they do and/or have existed, and that they require terminology with which we can discuss them.

If we refuse to allow a 'marriage' tag to include the possibility of gay marriage, we are not making a statement that "gay marriage is immoral", as many might seem to think. Rather, we are making a statement that "we cannot talk about gay marriage, because that vocabulary is off-limits." That's not meaningful. Even those who wish to make statements about their perceived immorality of gay marriage must use that vocabulary!

So lets keep this discussion on the merits of vocabulary, and not on the perceived legitimacy of particular types of unions.

  • Why does anything that doesn't apply almost all Christendom need to be mentioned in the first paragraph?
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 21:21
  • 1
    @PeterTurner: But it does apply... to practically all Christianity. Because "gay marriage" and "plural marriage" exist as concepts within Christianity, even if only to say they are illegitimate. "What is the Catholic stand against gay marriage?" cannot be asked if the concept of gay marriage doesn't exist (regardless of its legitimacy). Words have meanings. Their meanings have no bearing on morality--only on communication.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 1:01
  • 2
    @PeterTurner: If we follow your reasoning to its logical conclusion, we must rid the site of tags for blasphemy, sin, idolatry, etc, because these practices are illegitimate as well. And if we go even farther, we'd have to rid the site of every tag that not all Christians agree with, so book-of-mormon, apocrypha, free-will, predestination, etc, etc, etc
    – Flimzy
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 1:05

I think this is good with the exception of the "polygamy" text. You have that reading

Use this tag for questions about the attitudes and doctrines regarding polygamous marriages. Polygamous marriages are typically in the form of one male with multiple concurrent marriages to two or more wives. The tag also includes one female-multiple-males marriages. The tag also includes marriages that among any number of male or female persons (ie. "group marriages").

I've highlighted what seems to me potentially confusing terminology (is a polygamous marriage a single marriage, or "multiple concurrent marriages"?)

Here's a possible alternative:

Use this tag for questions about attitudes and doctrines regarding polygamous marriages. Polygamous marriages often describe one man married to multiple wives (polygyny); they can also describe marriages with one woman and multiple men (polyandry). The tag also includes marriages among multiple men and multiple women—group marriages.

This is shorter and (I believe) clearer.

  • Yes, much clearer!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 0:08
  • I believe I agree with you. Thank you for this. I was quickly running out of mental energy when I first drafted this.
    – user3961
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 6:32

If this were Catholicism.SE, the nomenclature would probably be , I realize it isn't, but that's my two cents, thank you very much for taking the time to think this out!

How simple is this:

Marriage is the union of a man and a woman with openness to children.

and be done with it. If you want to make it non-confrontational (and still true), we can say:

Most Christians believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman with openness to children.

What really annoys me is that these definitions of marriage leave out starting a family, that's more reflective of our times and culture than anything. It's not very inclusive of most Christians either.

I don't care if people tag their questions about same-sex 'marriage' as , they're still asking about what I defined above, they're just asking something to the contrary which is still the same subject.

Marriage is a very broad topic. It's one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. But I don't care if that's in the tag. The tag should encompass all those unions and I think it's OK to use it in conjunction with and to find what you want, it can even be used in conjunction with if you want (I can't prevent that, but it should be a synonym with ).

All, I'm trying to say is that Irregular Situations should be a footnote, not the basis for how marriage is defined talked about in the tag wiki.

  • Hmmm. I see why union would be preferred, not wanting to equate it with traditional marriage, however, that implicitly creates a support of one as moral and the other as immoral. If we use union instead of marriage, then we would have to do it for all of them, but then no one would use the tags because they cannot find them (people search for "marriage" not "union").
    – user3961
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 21:28
  • 1
    The excerpt is an attempt to guide users on how to use the tag, not define marriage, though some defining turned out to be necessary. I see your suggestion as adding doctrinal definitions to the excerpt, which is better left to answers on questions using this tag. For example, someone might ask what the Catholic definition of marriage is. Your bolded part is the answer. As a tag excerpt though, it confuses things and doesn't really tell when to use the tag. I'm proposing that users do not use "marriage" for questions about same-sex marriage, but use "same-sex-marriage" instead.
    – user3961
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 21:31
  • @fredsbend FWIW, I made my edits to the marriage tag
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 22:05
  • 1
    I liked those edits. I approved it in the review queue. Probably needs two or three more. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about LDS teaching will add in a bullet for them.
    – user3961
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 22:52
  • "What they consider to be marriage". Charming as ever, I see, Peter.
    – TRiG
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 21:15
  • @trig, hey I'm at least acknowledging subjectivity. That's a step towards tolerance!
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 2:27

This proposal is a case of Christianity.SE tacitly endorsing traditional religious definitions of marriage through its tag system. That is contrary to the nature and guidelines of the StackExchange system of sites.

Christianity.SE is a secular site, not a religious one. It does not represent nor endorse any particular religiously-based beliefs. It is a site about Christianity, not a Christian site. (See Brothers, we are not Christians‼)

To define tags related to marriage based on religious definitions of marriage is to violate the secular nature of this site, and to adopt definitions of commonly used English words based on particular denominational beliefs--a practice that is inappropriate on a secular site.

StackExchange, Inc., the owner of the StackExchange sites, is a U.S. corporation based in New York City (see Wikipedia --> StackExchange --> History). Although the site certainly has a wide international reach, it operates under U.S. law, which sets the basic legal and cultural parameters under which the site operates.

Same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the United States. Legally, there is no distinction in the U.S. between "same-sex marriage" and "marriage." Though there certainly is religious opposition to this among many Christians and Christian denominations, the secular definition of marriage in the United States (and increasingly in most Western countries, see Wikipedia --> Same-sex marriage --> Legal recognition) includes same-sex marriage.

And once again, this is a secular site, not a religious one.

Therefore, it is contrary to the nature and intent of this site to continue to define "marriage" as "traditional marriage between one man and one woman," thus excluding same-sex marriage.

Though a "same-sex marriage" tag will, I think, still be useful, the "marriage" tag should be revised to accord with the secular definition of marriage that is current in the country in which this site is based. This, I strongly suspect, is also the secular definition of marriage in the countries where the majority of the StackExchange user base reside.

  • 1
    The tags on this site are meant to serve this site's purposes, therefore the definitions and usage guidelines do not necessarily have to match any real or perceived definitions that exist elsewhere. How US law currently defines marriage is irrelevant to the study of how Christianity is practiced.
    – user3961
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 23:59
  • Additionally, your concession that a same-sex-marriage tag is still useful reveals that at least in your own mind you agree that, to this site's audience, dividing "marriage" and "same-sex marriage" into separate things is useful. And you would be correct to note that. It is abundantly clear that the first thought on most people's mind after hearing "marriage" in a Christianity context is not "same-sex-marriage".
    – user3961
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 23:59
  • 1
    If your objection made sense, you would offer instead that marriage tag be renamed as to exclude same-sex marriage from its definition and usage to something like "traditional-marriage" or "opposite-sex-marriage". Then of course for consistency we should also decide that polyamory is the same thing as well, so we will need to include that in the renaming of the marriage tag to something like "monogamous-opposite-sex-marriage". But just so we aren't confusing anybody, I opt for "traditional-monogamous-opposite-sex-this-is-ridiculous-marriage".
    – user3961
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:00
  • 2
    Leaving it as "marriage" is a consideration in brevity and existing usage. It is certainly not a tacit endorsement of any persuasion.
    – user3961
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:00
  • @fredsbend I am surprised that you are defending "traditional marriage" so strongly. It's not as though even all Christians define it that way. There are large Christian denominations that include same-sex marriage in their definition of marriage. To adopt the definition of one branch of Christianity in preference to that of another is, once again, to impose religious definitions on a secular site. Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:08
  • @fredsbend I would support the addition of a "heterosexual marriage" tag as well. Then "marriage" would be in the nature of a general category, and the various other tags would be sub-categories within the main category. Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:09
  • FYI, I believe this is a very important issue—important enough to appeal to the parent company about it. Defining "marriage" as the site currently does will mark this site as a religious site. It will also align this site with conservative Christianity. And it will be seen by a broad swath of the Western public as being discriminatory. I do not think that the parent company would want one of its sites to be taking such a discriminatory stance. Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:12
  • Let's continue in chat.
    – user3961
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:20
  • This meta answer ultimately spawned a suggestion for a minor change to the marriage tag excerpts. Read through the chat room linked above for context. Suggestion for a minor change to the marriage tag excerpt
    – user3961
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 20:28

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