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.”
We can fight against it and rail against it and hope against it, but the truth is that children are designed to be raised in families with a mom and dad. They are much better off in this environment. Yes there are bad families and bad parents, but the failure of some is no reason to declare the whole institution a failure. If so, we would have no government since there are been massive failures by numerous government officials over the years.
God designed us, created the family structure and made us in such a way that the only way we can procreate is to be male and female together. To buck against this design is foolishness.
Theology aside, our government, as has others, has recognized the importance of the family unit. One of the reasons we give benefits to married couples is because we realize that society is more stable when people are married. Numerous studies show that children raised with both parents in the home fare better than those raised in single parent homes. There are exceptions, but the norm is greatly in favor of two parent homes. Men are better employees, more reliable and responsible adults when they are married. Our culture has been one that saw the family unit as central to creating good communities. While many want to deny the blessed nature of America, much of that blessing has come from the strong family units that held communities together, raised children to be responsible members of society that could push forward a nation to accomplish what few others have done in history.
Gay marriage is not only a lesser option, as the study above shows, but it also dilutes the cultural emphasis on marriage and the value of the family unit. This is shown by the unintended consequence of the recent decision to repeal “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” in the military. With the decision to grant spousal benefits to non-spousal same sex partners in the military, some heterosexual live-in partners have asked for the same benefits. It is a natural consequence that those who are not married will want the same benefits as those who are married, whether same sex or not. Ultimately the institution of marriage is diluted, and that leads to a more chaotic community. Look at the black community where 75% of children are born out of wedlock to see the effects of a culture where marriage is not valued.
4. Religious Freedom Threat – There can be no doubt that if gay marriage becomes the accepted norm free religious expression will come under attack. The evidence for this is found in those religious institutions that oppose abortion and/or contraception. The Obama administration decided that while they couldn’t force the actual church to provide these services, they could force these services on those institutions and individuals who opposed them, regardless of religious affiliation or belief. The case by Hobby Lobby’s founders is still working it’s way through the court system as they attempt to be exempted from requirements to provide health services with which they disagree to their employees.
No matter your religious conviction or belief, you will have to recognize and accept gay marriage. Churches or organizations that accept federal funds in any matter will have to perform gay marriages or face stiff penalties. A Baptist school that accepts Pell grants will have to open its facilities to a gay couple for a marriage. Gay marriage, homosexual relationships will become part of all school curriculum. Expressing any pro-Christian, traditional religious belief, quoting Romans 1, denying access to facilities for gay marriage rites, will be met with public ridicule and threats of legal action.
I don’t see these results as extreme, but as the natural outflow of our society and how we have dealt with other similar situations. Many of these things have already happened in states that have legalized gay marriage. If this becomes national, these things will happen all over the U.S.
I see gay marriage as a real threat to American culture and to Christians in America. We must take a stand and be prepared to lose. Be gracious. Be loving. Be strong. Be righteous. Be joyful.
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