The arguments for traditional marriage to avoid
Marriage is under assault, and in just the last month, we have seen some surprising, depressing concessions: Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi opined to the press that Christians could accept
“civil unions” of same-sex couples. Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan told a town hall meeting in Wisconsin that while he still opposed homosexual “marriage,” he supported the “right” of same-sex couples to adopt children. Evangelical Christian pastors, afraid of alienating younger members of their churches, have begun to back away from this issue. Even Catholic and Evangelical leaders whose views are orthodox have become reluctant to “pick this hill to die on.” A gifted writer and Catholic priest confessed to me, “I have held off on commenting on the marriage issue. I’m just too frightened of the backlash.”
Proponents of same-sex unions have gotten so cocky that they have begun to criminalize the opposition. In Quebec, a government ministry is partnering with homosexual activists to monitor and punish as “hate speech” opposition to same-sex unions. As Brian Brown, President of the indispensible National Organization for Marriage, told the Catholic Leadership Conference in Charlotte, N.C. on April 25: “Make no mistake: defenders of natural marriage are being tarred with the same brush as racists. Our views are being delegitimized, and we are being stigmatized. Soon we may be legally sanctioned. That means that any Christian church that defends traditional marriage will be treated as Bob Jones University was when it enforced racist policies. That is the future, unless we fight.” Once we grant that same-sex couples can marry, it becomes a fundamental right – the kind of right that courts routinely rule trump lesser rights, like the right to practice the controversial tenets of a minority religion.
If you think Mr. Brown is being an alarmist, take note of what is happening in other “free countries.” In Denmark, the government has ordered Lutheran churches to offer same-sex wedding ceremonies. In Canada, a private Catholic school has been ordered by judges to stop teaching Christian sexual morality. Do you really think that American authorities will act any differently once Christians have been tarred as the moral equivalents of skinheads? No wonder that topless lesbian protestors felt bold enough to assault and degrade an elderly Catholic archbishop who’d defended Christian sexual morality. They knew that their bullying would be winked at. “Those people” deserve what they get.
It is clear what we are losing: not just the assistance of the state in supporting the natural law, but our actual, day-to-day freedom to practice our faith. Faithful Christians are being shoved out of the mainstream of acceptable society and into the fever swamps inhabited by race cranks.
What is less clear is why we are losing. How did an issue (same-sex “marriage”), which recently seemed so outrageous that the great Christian moralist Bill Clinton led the effort to ban it nationally, become a seemingly unstoppable “civil rights issue”? What happened was that we have failed to argue effectively, and have thoughtlessly granted the opposition’s major premises. We have thought with our hearts and felt with our heads, and generally failed to defend either faith or reason. It is time to start from scratch.
Let us first list the arguments not to use:
- We must defend the theological concept of “marriage.” We are not here engaged in a rear-guard action to protect the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage by enshrining it in law. That battle was lost after the French Revolution, when civil marriage was recognized by Enlightenment lawmakers. We do not aspire to outlaw divorce and remarriage, or hand marital law over to diocesan tribunals.