This proposal was suggested and approved.

Original Post

A while ago, I endeavored to clarify the use of the tag and its related tags:

There was some static from a few users, but the community seemed mostly supportive of the changes, so I made them, they went through the review process and were approved. Most notable was Flimzy's answer/comment, and recently Lee's answer, which lead to a long chat discussion (Read from this chat message down.)

Lee and I came to a simple compromise that a few have noted in chat that they would support.

The marriage tag excerpt currently says:

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

It should be changed to:

Use this tag for questions about attitudes and doctrines regarding marriage. For questions relating specifically to same-sex marriage and polygamy, use the appropriate tags.

This change is minor, but is only meant to do something simple. The current excerpt can and did lead to polarization on this sensitive topic for some users, and will likely do so again in the future. Since the excerpt is the most seen description for tags, it was needlessly provocative, possibly turning away users over an issue that does not really exist. Lee said it best and ultimately convinced me that this small change was worthwhile:

This [excerpt] would, I think, cover what the bulk of people in the culture think about marriage anyway, without being unnecessarily polarizing right in the tag excerpt.
Chat message

This meta post was made for two purposes:

  1. The topic is sensitive and therefore deserves the full protocol.
  2. The change may be viewed as too minor, and therefore rejected once it is in the review queue.

Comments are welcome in the answer space below.

  • 5
    Is the change intended to actually change the scope or just avoid the "polarizing" language. That is, would questions about same sex marriage get both tags or just the same-sex-marriage one?
    – ThaddeusB
    Jan 1, 2016 at 4:50
  • @ThaddeusB My understanding is that "polygamy" and "same-sex marriage" would be in the nature of sub-tags under the general "marriage" category tag. And as I understand it, the general tag is not necessary or ordinarily used when a more specific tag is appropriate. However, a question or answer under the "marriage" tag would not have to exclude same-sex marriage, which could be included in a question or answer using that tag. That would be the substantive change. Jan 1, 2016 at 17:16
  • 1
    @ThaddeusB I don't think current usage actually changes much. Lee is parsing it oddly, but ultimately, I read his comment saying that current usage wouldn't really change.
    – user3961
    Jan 1, 2016 at 20:31
  • Yes, in response to @ThaddeusB, I doubt we would have to change the tagging of any existing questions. The new usage would simply not exclude questions that may involve or include same-sex marriage from using the "marriage" tag. Jan 2, 2016 at 6:39

2 Answers 2


I said in my comment to @ThaddeusB:

My understanding is that "polygamy" and "same-sex marriage" would be in the nature of sub-tags under the general "marriage" category tag. And as I understand it, the general tag is not necessary or ordinarily used when a more specific tag is appropriate. However, a question or answer under the "marriage" tag would not have to exclude same-sex marriage, which could be included in a question or answer using that tag. That would be the substantive change.

To provide an example, a question could ask:

What is the Swedenborgian view of marriage?

(I know, that's sorta broad, but bear with me.)

An answer to this question could include a discussion of same-sex marriage. The question is not specifically about same-sex marriage, so it would not be appropriate to use the "same-sex marriage" tag. Clearly, this question would call for the "marriage" tag. However, an answer to this question could include a discussion of same-sex marriage as part of the overall answer.

With the current definition of the "marriage" tag, including material about same-sex marriage would violate the tag definition, because the tag definition specifies "traditional marriage (one male and one female)." With the new tag definition, including a discussion of same-sex marriage in an answer, or even as one element (explicit or potential) in the question, would not violate the tag definition, as it would under the current definition.

So the substantive change from the old "marriage" tag definition to the new one is that questions using the "marriage" tag would not have to exclude any consideration or inclusion of same-sex marriage.

Questions under the "marriage" tag could still, of course, specify that they are about "traditional marriage (one male and one female)." In that case, an answer discussing same-sex marriage would still be "not an answer" to the question.

If a question is specifically focused on same-sex marriage, it would use the "same-sex marriage" tag because that's what that tag is for. And we have this tag because same-sex marriage is a major distinct issue within Christianity as a whole.

TLDR: Under the new tag definitions questions and answers about marriage could include a consideration of same-sex marriage and use the "marriage" tag, but questions focusing specifically or entirely on same-sex marriage would still use the "same-sex marriage" tag.

Edit: Another example of a question that could use the "marriage" tag under the new definition, but not the old:

What is the history of the LDS Church's teachings on marriage?

Such a history would necessarily include a consideration of the original LDS endorsement of polygamy and its later repudiation of polygamy and requirement of monogamy.

The "polygamy" tag would not adequately cover such a question, because it deals both with polygamy and with monogamous, one man, one woman marriages. In this instance, the "marriage" tag with its new definition would be required, whereas the "polygamy" tag might or might not be used.

However, the old "marriage" tag definition would preclude its use on this question because the question necessarily deals with definitions of "marriage" that are explicitly excluded from that tag definition.

So once again, the "marriage" tag would be much more generally useful if it were defined broadly to include all of the various ways different (self-defined) Christian groups and denominations use the word "marriage" than if its definition is restricted to particular definitions of marriage within Christianity that are exclusive of other ways "marriage" has been and currently is defined within various groups and denominations of Christians.

  • I think you are saying the tag change only addresses the content of answers, not the tagging of specifically SSM/poly questions. But, let me rephrase/clarify - Here are the 11 questions tagged "same-sex-marriage" and here are the 10 tagged "polygamy." Which, if any, of these 21 should also be tagged "marriage" under the proposed change? ... Would the tagging on the hypothetical Swedenborgian question have multiple marriage tags or just "marriage"?
    – ThaddeusB
    Jan 1, 2016 at 21:22
  • @ThaddeusB why would we use a more general tag when a more specific one applies? If the tag "ezekiel" applies, a question would not also be tagged "bible." Jan 1, 2016 at 21:30
  • Broad tags should still be used along with more specific tags, for ease of filtering. See How do I correctly tag my questions? on MSE and Should questions use both tags when one is a subset of the other? here. My general principle: try to make sure that all questions have at least one very broad tag and one narrow tag. Jan 1, 2016 at 21:50
  • @Nathaniel From ThaddeusB's answer to your second linked meta post: "If both tags are useful (and there are many cases of this type), then the more specific one should always be used when it applies. The more general one can be used, but has a low priority." I doubt people will use the "marriage" tag to find questions about same-sex marriage or polygamy. So although we could use the "marriage" tag on questions about those subjects, I don't think it's necessary or even particularly helpful to do so. Both are distinct subjects, and both are likely to be searched for using the specific tags. Jan 1, 2016 at 23:36
  • Remember that tags are used for favorites/ignored filtering, not just searches, as well as generating high-quality related links. Broad tags add value in both situations, and though they might be slightly lower priority than the correct narrow tag, there are five tags available per question. The way this new excerpt reads, I would normally tag "same-sex marriage" questions with the "marriage" tag as well. Jan 2, 2016 at 11:57
  • @Nathaniel There's nothing preventing a user from using both the broad and the specific tags relating to marriage. I don't happen to think it would be particularly useful to do so, but I don't see any particular harm in it either. Jan 2, 2016 at 21:33

My personal opinion is that same-sex "marriage" as a cultural norm will come and go, but this website will remain. Lets be brave and not do anything which seems to even intimate that we care what the enemies of truth and tradition think since listening to their voices will only corrupt us.

As far as this site is concerned, if traditional marriage isn't marriage between a man and a woman, then I completely give up. And if tradition doesn't mean anything, then how are we even supposed to answer any questions. So the argument seems to be against using the word tradition to describe what we know marriage to be and the argument is with a person whom I would consider to be knee deep in one of Christendom's most awful heresies. So yeah, let him chip away at the truth and see what you're left with.

  • What are you suggesting then? Keep the existing wording? Jan 4, 2016 at 12:44
  • As has been pointed out many, many times to many, many newcomers to this site, Christianity.SE is not about the truth. It's about what groups and denominations of Christians believe is the truth. See: We can't handle the truth. Advocating for the definition of a general tag, used in all Christian denominations, based on what a subset of Christians and Christian denominations say is "the truth" is entirely contrary to the most basic guidelines of this site. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:11
  • I would also point out (once again) that even under the new tag definitions, questions would could still refer to "traditional marriage," defined as "marriage between one man and one woman." Such questions simply would no longer have the exclusive use of the "marriage" tag. The new tag definitions recognize how the word "marriage" is used across all Christian denominations, and in the culture generally. Using the tags to define a general term as a subset of Christians define it based on their beliefs about what is true is taking a position on a matter of truth, which this site cannot do. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:16
  • Further, your opinion of the "awful heresies" of other Christians is utterly irrelevant to the purposes and guidelines of this site. I happen to believe that you are "knee deep in one of Christendom's most awful heresies," namely, the Trinity of Persons. And my opinion on that subject is also utterly irrelevant to your right to participate in this site and have the beliefs of your denomination of Christians fairly represented here. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:26
  • It is rank prejudice based on denominational views of "the truth" to disallow denominations that include same-sex marriage in their definition of marriage from using the general "marriage" tag to properly tag questions relating to those denominations' beliefs and practices related to marriage. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:29
  • If you feel strongly about this, then I would suggest that you advocate for another sub-tag under the general "marriage" tag along the lines of "traditional marriage" or "opposite-sex marriage." In the discussion in chat that @fredsbend linked from his meta post, it was generally thought that such a tag was unnecessary. If you think it is necessary, you're free to make your arguments for it. But you cannot sustain defining the general term "marriage," used throughout Christianity, in the way your particular denomination or group of denominations defines it based on its view of "the truth." Jan 4, 2016 at 16:32
  • 1
    @Nathaniel yeah, I'd keep the existing wording because it reflects the existing reality. Marriage ain't broke, no need to fix it.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jan 4, 2016 at 18:11
  • 1
    @lee that is very well reasoned and exactly what I want to avoid. At first I thought what was proposed was cleverly phrased but benign subterfuge, but you've come out and said it. Traditional marriage is not a subset of marriage, traditional marriage is marriage and everything else is the antithesis of marriage.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jan 4, 2016 at 18:21
  • Those are truth statements. That's not what this website is about. See: How we are different than other sites. Personally, I'd be happy to banish most of "Christianity" from Christianity. But I can't do that. Especially not here. While I sympathize with your strongly and sincerely held beliefs, your beliefs cannot dictate how this site operates. This site must be open to all groups that self-identify as Christian. It cannot discriminate against some and favor others based on their beliefs. Jan 4, 2016 at 18:49
  • @lee you're confusing the structure I helped come up with for allowing multi-denominational topics to be picked over without too much of a fight with the structure behind creating tag wikis, a topic which didn't come up much at the time. If you consider the consequences, we'll have to burninate marriage altogether because it will become a meta-tag; a synonym of subjective
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jan 4, 2016 at 19:01
  • No. It will be defined, as the overall culture defines it, in a way that allows for the various sub-definitions of marriage that are used in various sub-groups, including various Christian sub-groups, of the culture. Some of those groups include same-sex marriage in their definition, others do not. The term "marriage" is used for both types of definitions. Jan 4, 2016 at 19:17
  • 1
    @lee good, then keep it like it is until we as an overall culture get to have a vote on it. Polls lie, the US Supreme Court is biased. But, most of us, as well as most people interested in Christianity, define marriage in the traditional sense. Why they're not as offended as I am when someone tries to redefine it is their business. But, we do agree on the what we think God's purpose for the sexes was in the beginning and it is not up for redefinition no matter who is offended by it.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jan 4, 2016 at 19:28
  • I'm sorry, but the current tag definitions here define "marriage" as a subset of Christians define it. There are large, well-established Christian denominations that now include same-sex marriage within their definition of marriage (see LGBT-affirming Christian denominations). As strongly as you and your denomination's beliefs may be about marriage as traditional marriage, that simply doesn't define "marriage" for all of Christianity. And once again, this site must accommodate all Christian denominations. Jan 4, 2016 at 19:50
  • 2
    @Lee who says this site must do anything? It is not an autonomous being. It is not licensed in accord with the UN Commission on Human Rights. It can be illegal in Canada if it needs to be. As for me and my denomination. I don't believe that I have a denomination. As a Catholic, I believe that everyone is more or less in communion with the Church. So unfortunately, I have beliefs that cannot be accommodated under any circumstances outside of complete submission.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jan 4, 2016 at 20:01
  • I understand. But neither you nor the Catholic Church owns this site. And the site guidelines are clear that this is not a Christian site, no matter how much some of us might like it to be a site that endorses and promotes our particular version of Christianity. Jan 4, 2016 at 22:40

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