Sunday, February 23, 2014

Five Secular Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage-Part 2

 I continue my series here in support of traditional marriage.  To start at the first post, click this link to "What Is Marriage?"

In my post last week, I began outlining five secular (or non-biblical) reasons to support traditional marriage and to not support the new revisionist "same-sex" version of marriage.  I covered the first two reasons "Redefining marriage is harmful to children" and "Redefining marriage will bring great harm to society as a whole".  I cover the last three reasons here:

3. Redefining Marriage Will Undermine Same-sex Friendships. Admittedly, this is one of the most difficult-to-understand yet insidious side effects of the effort to redefine marriage. Changing the definition of marriage from the traditional view (as defined in my article "What Is Marriage?") to the revisionist view will have serious implications on non-sexual relationships. In their book "What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense" Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George make this argument:
The more we absorb this assumption (that marriage is defined as “the relationship in our lives which matters most”), the less we value deep friendship in its own right. Self-disclosure, unembarrassed reliance, self-forgetfulness, extravagant expressions of affection, and other features of companionship come to seem gauche—or even feel like unwelcome impositions—outside romance and marriage. We come to see friendships as mere rest stops on the way back to family life. It becomes harder to share experiences with our friend that we could just as well have shared with our spouse, without seeming to detract from our marriage.
On the other hand:
The conjugal view, by contrast, gives marriage a definite shape, as ordered to true bodily union and thus to family life. If the revisionist view sees single people as just settling for less, the conjugal view leaves room for different forms of communion, each with its own distinctive scale and form of companionship and support. It keeps from making marriage totalizing: it clarifies what we owe our spouses in marital love; what we owe it to them not to share with others; and what we could share now
Just think about. Already in our society, when we see two men or two women in a close, intimate friendship, don't we tend to assume that it is sexual in nature? This was certainly not always the case.  Throughout history, men and women have enjoyed close friendships with others of their own gender, often while also enjoying a marital relationship with their opposite-sex spouse. With the “new norm”, we are conflating the two very-different types of relationships, while potentially undermining both our friendship and marital relationships.

4. Redefining marriage will almost certainly lead to the erosion of monogamy and permanence.  These "marriage mainstays" have served civilization well for thousands of years, giving stability to homes for millennia.  Girgis, Anderson, and George put it this way in their Wall Street Journal article, “The Wisdom Of Upholding Tradition,”

...if two men can marry, or two women, then what sets marriage apart from other bonds must be emotional intensity or priority. But nothing about emotional union requires it to be permanent. Or limited to two. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive.
Because of the nature of homosexual relationships, promiscuity likely will become the norm and lifetime relationships even less likely among heterosexuals. Let's look at the following statistics as provided by the Family Research Council:
  • The 2003-2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census surveyed the lifestyles of 7,862 homosexuals. Of those involved in a "current relationship," only 15 percent describe their current relationship as having lasted twelve years or longer, with five percent lasting more than twenty years.
  • Research indicates that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime:The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per person.
  • Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners
  • In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison reported that, in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years: Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years.
When we redefine marriage based solely on the intensity of the relationship, we have broken down every barrier that would keep marriage as an exclusive relationship between two people. In “What Is Marriage,” the authors quote prominent proponents of “same-sex marriage”, who unabashedly describe the agenda beyond gay marriage:

Consider the norm of monogamy. Judith Stacey—a prominent New York University professor who is in no way regarded as a fringe figure, in testifying before Congress against the Defense of Marriage Act—expressed hope that the revisionist view’s triumph would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours . . . [leading some to] question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek . . . small group marriages.”In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than three hundred “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates—including prominent Ivy League professors—call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners. University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake thinks that justice requires us to use legal recognition to “denormalize heterosexual monogamy as a way of life” and correct for “past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists, and care networks.

Is this argument just a “slippery-slope” scare tactic used by traditional marriage advocates like myself to scare people needlessly about what these non-traditional arrangements might lead to? Not hardly. Consider this: In December, 2013, A Utah judge handed down the first pro-polygamy ruling in Utah in 130 years. The judge favored the “Sister Wives” family of one man, four wives, and seventeen children over the government. The reality-star “husband” of the “Sister Wives,” Kody Brown, told ABC News, I think that anybody should be able to organize their family according to how they choose.”

Nationally syndicated radio-host and author Dennis Prager made the following statement in his latest article, “Judges,Hubris, and Same-sex Marriage,”

 If American society has a “constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal

basis,” then there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.
It should be obvious to any rational person, that children raised in households with multiple male or female partners or in households where the parents have multiple sexual relationships outside of marriage are not being raised in a stable home environment. This will have multiple societal repercussions as we deal with further erosion of the marriage ideals.
5.  Redefining marriage will have a serious impact on the religious liberties and First Amendment rights of those who don't agree. We've already seen how those in favor of redefining marriage are willing to use the coercive force of law to marginalize and penalize those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Consider these examples
  • A New Mexico photographer who declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony due to her religious beliefs was hauled before a state human rights commission--even though plenty of other photographers were available.
  • Christian charities in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C. were forced to stop providing adoption and foster care services because they wanted to place children with married moms and dads, in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs.
  • A Washington state florist respectfully declined to design floral arrangements for a same-sex couple's wedding ceremony because of her religious beliefs. Though many other florists were available, the state's attorney general has sued the florist.
  • Owners of a bed and breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law
In this latter case, Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum, an appointee to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, argues that the push to redefine marriage trumps religious liberty concerns:

[F]or all my sympathy for the evangelical Christian couple who may wish to run a bed and breakfast from which they can exclude unmarried, straight couples and all gay couples, this is a point where I believe the “zero-sum” nature of the game inevitably comes into play. And, in making that decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.
The pace to get “on the right side of history” has increased at a breathtaking rate in just the last few months. In fact, a recent New York Times article quoteAndrew M. Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern in saying“It is becoming increasingly clear to judges that if they rule against same-sex marriage their grandchildren will regard them as bigots.” Earlier this month, a judge in Virginia struck down a same-sex marriage ban in that state that even the New York Times in the above article stated was “marked by haste.” Her rational for the haste? “When core civil rights are at stake,” she said, “the judiciary must act.”
So it is now a “core civil rights issue” Judges are afraid of being characterized as bigots. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.”
This impetus to label opponents of the effort to redefine marriage as "bigots"  receives its impetus from an effort to conflate same-sex marriage with the 1960's ban against interracial marriage, though there is no similarity except the word “marriage.” As Dennis Prager puts it, “..the analogy is false because there is no difference between black people and white people, while there are enormous differences between males and females.”  
Ryan T. Anderson makes the following point in his Heritage Foundation paper, "Marriage:What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”
Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else....
Some might appeal to historical inevitability as a reason to avoid answering the question of what marriage is—as if it were an already moot question. However, changes in public opinion are driven by human choice, not by blind historical forces. The question is not what will happen, but what we should do.
The choices we make in this issue, will not only affect us, but generations of Americans after us.  With the rush to get on "the right side of history," we are disregarding the staggering implications of our choices which will undermine the very foundations of the great society in which we live.

Following is the first of an earlier series on marriage that I wrote last year:

Reflections On Thirty Years Of Marriage-Part 1

For an inspirational lift, check out my new book, "Grace In Shoe Leather." It's an amazing story of grace and forgiveness that has made a difference in the lives of so many. You can download it here: 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Five Secular Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage-Part 1

 I continue my series here in support of the traditional view of marriage. Here are links to the first article “What Is Marriage?” and to the second article “Five Biblical Reasons to Support Traditional Marriage.

While I am a Christian and I get my values largely from my understanding of the Christian scriptures, I certainly realize that I live in a pluralistic society. There was a time in American history when the vast majority of U.S. citizens held these views, but that is no longer true. Because of this, I understand that an argument for the traditional view of marriage and against the revisionist view of marriage (as defined in my earlier article, “What Is Marriage?”) based solely on the Bible won't go very far with a lot of people in this increasing secular society. But is there a secular argument to be made for traditional marriage that all of us, no matter what our religious (or non-religious) affiliation may be? I certainly think so.

 In their book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense,” as well as in their Wall Street Journal article “The Wisdom Of Upholding Tradition”, Princeton's Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis, and Ryan T. Anderson make the following observation concerning the traditional or conjugal view of marriage:
“...marriage unites a man and woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life. These insights require no particular theology. Ancient thinkers untouched by Judaism or Christianity—including Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Musonius Rufus, Xenophanes and Plutarch —also distinguished conjugal unions from all others. Nor did animus against any group produce this conclusion, which arose everywhere quite apart from debates about same-sex unions. The conjugal view best fits our social practices and judgments about what marriage is.”
The course that we are about to embark on has no roots in any thinking society. Like the diver jumping off the high dive without checking to see if there is any water in the pool below, we are foolishly hurling ourselves headlong into something in the name of “fairness” and “equality” without any regard to the long-term ramifications of our actions.

There are a number reasons that we should pause and consider these actions and what they could mean for our society and the societies around us. I have chosen five, but there could be many more. We'll cover the first two in this article, starting with what should be one of the most obvious:

 1.  Redefining marriage is harmful to children.  Decades of research show that children do better with a mom and a dad than any other arrangement. By redefining marriage as any two people, regardless of gender, who love each other, we are making a statement as a society that fatherhood and motherhood are interchangeable. In fact, our own government, while speaking out of one side of it's mouth in favor of “same-sex marriage,” continues to speak out of the other side of it's mouth about the importance of fatherhood. Consider this quote from an article on the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services website:

A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, is one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood. "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home," he says. "Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring."Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children”...(There is a positive) connection between fathers and child outcomes, including cognitive ability, educational achievement, psychological well-being, and social behavior. (This) also underscores the impact of the father and mother's relationship on the well-being of their children.”

This article (I find it amazing that it is still up on their website) goes on to cite a 2001 U.S. Department of Education study which found that “highly involved biological fathers had children who were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly A's and 33 percent less likely than other children to repeat a grade.”

Also, citing the same study, this article states that
“...children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem. In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior

Now, it should go without saying that a child raised by two women does not have a biological father in the home as is inherently deprived of the benefits of an involved father. However, at this point the argument is often made that by making this claim we are taking a swipe at single parents by saying that their parenting is somehow substandard. This is obviously not true. While many children may survive and some may even thrive in a fatherless home, it would be foolish to say that this is the optimal condition that we would want all kids to be placed in. Although not every home may have the benefit of an involved father, we should strive to make sure that the highest number of children possible may have this benefit.”

Even President Obama, who famously has “evolved” into a “same-sex marriage' advocate, made this statement last year about his own fatherless upbringing. 
“There are "heroic" single mothers across the country, but at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved...Building strong communities and a strong economy "starts at home," Obama said, adding that "there's no more important ingredient for success -- nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence -- than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood."
I couldn't have put it better myself! 

 As Girgis, Anderson, and George puts it:

If same-sex relationships are recognized as marriages, not only will the norms that keep marriage stable be undermined, but the notion that men and women bring different gifts to parenting will not be reinforced by any civil institution. Redefining marriage would thus soften the social pressures and lower the incentives—already diminished these last few decades—for husbands to stay with their wives and children, or for men and women to marry before having children. All this would harm children’s development into happy, productive, upright adults.”

Finally, I think any single father trying to raise a child by himself would testify to the fact that it is a supreme struggle to raise a child without a mother. Two men raising a child together, though both may love that child tremendously, are simply not able to give the child (or children) the same nurturing benefit that an involved mother can.  This isn't sexism.  It's just a fact.

2.Redefining marriage will bring great harm to society as a whole.  Our society is already overburdened with the fallout from the breakdown of the family.  Redefining marriage will only accelerate that breakdown.

The National Fatherhood Initiative, an organization that President Obama (to his credit) strongly supports, released the results of a 2008 study on the cost to society of fatherlessness, entitling the results “The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man.” Among their findings were that “the Federal Government spent at least $99.8 billion providing assistance to father-absent families in 2006.” Since the advent of the Great Recession, that number has certainly been on the rise.

Girgis, Anderson, and George puts it this way in their Wall Street Journal article: issue is government expansion. Marital norms serve children, spouses, and hence our whole economy, especially the poor. Family breakdown thrusts the state into roles for which it is ill-suited: provider and discipliner to the orphaned and neglected, and arbiter of custody and paternity disputes.
In her article, "Privatizing Marriage Will Expand the Role of the State," Jennifer Roback Morse makes the following argument:
 If you try to do marriage and parenthood by trial and error, you can...wreak a lot of damage. This pretty much has been the story of the past fifty years. Every “increase of freedom” turned out to be another episode of lawlessness. No-fault divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and the early sexualization of children, all seemed like good ideas at the time..but lawlessness turned out to impose constraints of its own...And who generously and kindly steps in to clean up the mess? Why, the state, of course. The government now involves itself in people’s private lives far more than it ever did in the dreaded fifties.”
She goes on to describe the results of the policies of “The Lifestyle Leftists,” who:
“not surprisingly, are precisely the people who want to remove the last remaining structural feature of marriage, by declaring it to be genderless... They are not giving the slightest thought to the new incentives these policies would put in place, or the whole sequence of changes they would set into motion.”
The Family Research Council sums it up this way:
“In situations where families have broken up due to divorce, government involvement usually increases. A study by the left-leaning Brookings Institution found that, between 1970 and 1996, $229 billion in welfare expenditures could be attributed to social problems related to the breakdown of marriage...By promoting strong marriage and intact families, the government actually reduces the role it would otherwise play in fulfilling these social functions. It is in the interest of children, spouses, and the public to promote strong and enduring marriages...

The serious problem of the breakdown of marriage will only accelerate with the adoption of a revisionist view of marriage. Redefining marriage makes marriage about adult desires instead of the needs of children, making the culture less conducive to producing stable, intact homes. We should indeed rebuild and restore marriage, not undermine it by redefining it's meaning.

To continue to Part 2, click below:

For an inspirational lift, check out my new book, "Grace In Shoe Leather." It's an amazing story of grace and forgiveness that has made a difference in the lives of so many. You can download it here: 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Five Biblical Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage

I continue my series here on why I support the traditional view of marriage. Here's a link to my first post: "What Is Marriage?"

As a Christian, I look at the Bible as the final authority on issues that might affect my life and the society around me. It is the bedrock of my belief, and of countless millions around the world. Though this holiest of books has been subject to scorn and ridicule through the ages, it's truths have stood the test of time for millennia, while those who disparaged it have died and faded into obscurity. 

Unfortunately, many who profess the name of Christ don't know what the book that was written of Him even says. Because of this, they are wide open to misinformation about the truths of God's word, and they often fall pray to erroneous interpretations of it in order to fit better into the society around them. This is never more true than the issue of marriage.

Following are five reasons that I believe that the bible explicitly teaches the traditional view of marriage...that is, that marriage is and can only be a union of a man and a woman:
1. Marriage is from the very beginning of the Old Testament clearly defined as the union of a man and a woman. After God created Eve to be a companion alongside Adam, the man said...This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:23, 24)
This first mention of marriage in the Bible clearly teaches that it is the joining (both physically and spiritually) of a man and a woman.  It is to be a covenant relationship (see Malachi 2:14) which is permanent and exclusive.  

2. When God gave His law to Moses and His people Israel, He explicitly excluded every sexual relationship outside of marriage.

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” Lev. 20: 10

“If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” Lev 20:13
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” Lev.18:22 
The argument frequently comes up at this point that we are not under the Mosaic code now and these verses don't apply to us today, any more than the Jewish prohibitions against eating pork or shellfish. However, the truth is that while Christ has set us free from the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Jewish law, the moral components of the law are still in effect today for all people. As a matter of fact, the moral components of the Mosaic law (especially the Ten Commandments, but also other verses as those listed above) form the basis of our legal system in America and that of many other countries. The bottom line is that these verses and many other Old Testament verses clearly show God's original intent for marriage to be exclusively between a man and woman for life. (For a fuller discussion of these points, read this excellent article.)
 3. In the New Testement, Jesus affirmed Genesis 2:23, 24 as God's intention for marriage to be male/female. Jesus did this in response to the Pharisees question regarding divorce:
 ...“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:5, 6)
The phrase “be joined to” (often translated “cleave”) is from the Greek word “Kollao” which means “to join fast together” or “to glue”. This passage shows not only God's intention that marriage be between a man and a woman, but His expectation that it be permanent. As Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi puts it:

“In the sight of God, cleaving means wholehearted commitment which spills over to every area of our being. It means to be permanently glued together rather than temporarily taped together. You can separate two pieces of wood taped together, but you cannot separate without great damage two pieces of wood glued together. In fact, two pieces of wood glued together become not only inseparable, but also much stronger than if they were taped together.”

As a side note (and something I plan to get into in future articles), very few homosexual relationships today or in any other age have featured this type of cleaving, which is permanent and exclusive. As a matter of fact, most don't even see this as something to be desired in their relationship.  (See this article by Dr. Timothy Daily)
 4. Paul repeatedly affirms male/female marriage in his letters as the only sexual relationship acceptable to God.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Romans 1:26, 27)
 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders...will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ( I Cor. 6: 9-11)
  ...(the) law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers  and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching...” (I Timothy 1:9, 10)
 These and other New Testament verses completely disallow homosexual relationships as well as any type of adulterous or extra-marital relationships. Yes, it is absolutely true that if any of these relationships have been in our past and we have since come to Christ, we are washed, sanctified and justified from those sins just as we are from any other sin. Praise the Lord!  However, any attempt to portray these relationships as anything other than sinful is certainly not biblical.
 5. Perhaps most importantly, marriage in the Bible is a portrait of Christ and His church, which is His bride:
 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church...” (Ephesians 5:25-29)
 In this beautiful and important passage, Paul shows the deeper meaning of marriage. God didn't just create marriage only for procreation and enjoyment (although it is certainly for those things as well). He created marriage to be a window into God's heart for His people, the church. Those who have committed themselves to Christ in a covenant relationship are indeed Christ's betrothed, and look for the day in which that marriage is finally consummated.
  Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. (Rev. 19:7)
 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2)
 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21: 9)

This relationship that we have with Christ here on earth as Christians is only a foretaste of the richer marital relationship we will have with Him in heaven. We are now betrothed to Him as a bride is to her bridegroom. One day, we will know him completely and fully as our husband. What a day that will be!

To go to the next article in the series, click below:
Five Secular Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage-Part 1

For an inspirational lift, check out my new book, "Grace In Shoe Leather." It's an amazing story of grace and forgiveness that has made a difference in the lives of so many. You can download it here: 

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