Sept. 4 update: Connor and Molly Shaw are married now, and their baby has arrived.
Buried all the way at the bottom of a story about Connor Shaw's first week as a Cleveland Brown was the revelation that he and his fiancee are expecting a baby girl this summer. The linear nature of time makes it easy to figure out that their daughter was conceived out of wedlock. For most reasonable people, this information is processed as little more than a biographical fact and an opportunity to offer congratulations. For some, though, it's reason to publicly announce their disapproval.
That Connor Shaw's child was conceived out of wedlock does not hurt anybody -- not even his daughter and definitely not you, asshole on the internet. This child will be born into a two-parent home. Her father might be earning the handsome minimum salary afforded NFL rookies. And even if pro football doesn't work out, there are enough wealthy people in South Carolina's alumni base to ensure that the man who played through illness and two sprained knee ligaments en route to the most remarkable of his school-best 27 wins will never want for employment. That's as good a start as any of us could hope for.
It's a cool thing for Connor and Molly's relationship that they've decided to get married, but it would be nobody's business to complain about it if they didn't. Being married to another person need not involve anything more than going to a courthouse and signing a legal document. You are not made a better person by having accomplished this clerical task. Forgoing this step will not make any children that you go on to bear and raise more intelligent, more charitable, more athletic, more curious, more talented, more dedicated, or more pious.
Marrying someone requires you to sign more paperwork if you later decide that you want to end the relationship. You're creating legal and financial barriers to splitting up, you might save some money on taxes, and things will be much less complicated if something terrible happens to either of you. That's about it. There's nothing inherently honorable or indicative of future parenting prowess about responding to legal incentives.
Next summer I'm going to marry the person I've been in a relationship with for the past eight years. I'm looking forward to the wedding because I love my fiancee and I'm excited about inviting our friends and family to a party celebrating our relationship. I don't expect to be a better person after the ceremony is over. I don't expect to be more prepared for fatherhood. I expect to spend a lot of time obsessing over vows that need to be equal parts touching, non-cliche, and hilarious. I expect to get wasted while dancing to 1990s hip-hop anthems. I expect us to go on a honeymoon in a place that we've never been before and free ourselves of any obligation except biological imperatives and those required by the laws of whatever country we're visiting. Then, after all of that, I expect to come back home to our apartment and continue living the exact same life I've been living and would have happily continued living whether or not I had signed a piece of paper and spent several thousand dollars on a party.
I imagine that Connor and Molly's wedding will have a roughly similar impact on their relationship. I don't know all of the details of their relationship, but I do know some of them. They're high school sweethearts, which tells us they've been together for at least four years. They've conceived a child and decided that they want to raise it together. That's a far more significant expression of commitment than throwing a party.
As long as it doesn't compel you to cause harm to other people, you should be able to derive your moral code from any book, movie, or television series that you want. But that doesn't mean you get to condemn people for living by a different but equally valid set of rules -- not when it's the year 2014 and there is nothing to back you up but your interpretation of a book written 2,000 years ago, when marriage primarily functioned as a means of transferring property.