It’s all over the news this week with the Supreme Court considering two cases on gay marriage, one on Prop 8 in California and the other on the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton. Justice Elena Kagan asked during Tuesday’s hearing, “what harm you see happening — and when and how and what — what harm to the institution of marriage or to opposite-sex couples?” This, it seems to me, is the answer that Christians haven’t done well answering and I don’t know that the lawyers for Prop 8 answered it either. There are at least a few things I can name as real threats if gay marriage becomes an accepted norm in America.
1. Linguistic Threat – Any time we redefine a word we should be careful, though this is the norm in postmodern America. Postmodernism has been infiltrating our higher educational institutions for well over 60 years now and it teaches that there are no absolutes. In a world without absolutes words have no set meanings, as does anything else. This burst through into popular culture when President Clinton testified under oath, “It depends on what the meaning of “is” is.” Suddenly we were faced with the idea that a simple two letter word may not mean what we all thought it meant. Could “is” mean anything other than the present tense form of “to be?” I’d been using the word since way before I started school and now it’s meaning was in doubt.
And so now this is occurring with the word “marriage” which suddenly needs an adjectival modifier to define it. Are we talking “heterosexual marriage” or “gay marriage”? This word which had a plain meaning since before recorded history now requires redefinition. I’m glad Justice Roberts queried one of the lawyers about the wisdom of redefining the word.
If we can, by popular opinion, through massive onslaught of media or by personal fiat, declare that certain words now mean something new, we face a very uncertain future. I can claim my answer was correct on the English test because the word I put means what the teacher wanted. Legal agreements lose force because the words have such uncertain meanings. Our conversations have no substance because we never know what someone else is saying and their misinterpretation is never wrong.
2. Slippery Slope Threat – This argument is made by those who today are already pushing for the legalization of polygamy, polyamory and those who want to marry animals and aliens. If the word “marriage” can be changed to include two men or two women, what is the logical argument to keep it from being changed to include a man with two or more women, or three men with four women, or a man and his goat?
I understand that those in favor of gay marriage say that this is a silly argument, that no one would consider these viable potentialities. Of course, who would’ve thought even twenty years ago that we would be having these conversations today about gay marriage? When Hillary Clinton recently changed her stance, and former President Clinton changed his stance, and even current President Obama changed his stance, they talked about how the world had changed over the years and how now their own opinions had “evolved.” You see, when your opinions are based on current trends and political winds and personal crises instead of principal and eternal truth it is easy to change. Will the same forces that helped many evolve today come to bear in another twenty years? Will we have this conversation about other issues then that seem outlandish today? My request is for one logical argument for gay marriage that would prohibit the movement toward other deviant twists of marriage.
3. Structure of Society Threat – Popular opinion is that children raised in homosexual homes are as good or better off than those raised in traditional homes. This is demonstrably false. Check out this article from the Washington Times last June. Here is the opening:
“Two studies released Sunday may act like brakes on popular social-science assertions that gay parents are the same as — or maybe better than — married, mother-father parents.
“The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go,” Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said in his study in Social Science Research.”
2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4