Arguing Against Gay Marriage

The House of Representatives recently passed the Defense of Marriage Act--a bill that would allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted by other states. The debate that preceded the vote was both angry and emotional--and it reminds us that if Christians are going to prevail, we need to learn how to discuss gay marriage in a way that our secular neighbors can relate to. The House of Representatives passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by a huge margin--342 to 67. But the bill's opponents succeeded on one front, at least: making defenders of traditional marriage look like hate-filled homophobes. Rep. Steve Gunderson, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, described the bill as "mean." Why, Gunderson asked, must Congress "attack one element of our society for some cheap political gain?" Several representatives responded to Gunderson by opening their Bibles and reading from them. One lawmaker bluntly described homosexuality as "perversion." But these are perfect illustrations of how not to argue this issue. The vast majority of Americans no longer believe in the authority of Scripture. So how do we argue against gay marriage in a way that our neighbors can understand? The answer is: We have to argue in a way that appeals to the common good. Former education secretary Bill Bennett recently did this in a Washington Post op-ed piece. Bennett urged readers to consider the long-term social effects of redefining marriage. One argument against same-sex marriage is the signals it would send, Bennett writes, and the impact of such signals on the shaping of human sexuality, especially among the young. "Societal indifference about heterosexuality and homosexuality would cause a lot of confusion," he adds. Legalizing gay marriages means that public schools would be forced to teach that heterosexual and homosexual marriages are equivalent. Homosexual couples would be considered just as competent to adopt and raise children as heterosexual couples--even though we know that "it is far better for a child to be raised by a mother and a father than by, say, two male homosexuals," Bennett says. When Christians defend traditional marriage, they're defending far more than just the Christian definition of this institution. As Bennett puts it, they're also defending the "accumulated wisdom of millennia and the teaching of every major religion." In a world with so many cultures with so "few common threads," Bennett writes, " . . . marriage is almost universally recognized as an act meant to unite a man and a woman." These are the kinds of arguments that Christians must make when the gay marriage issue is debated. And make no mistake, this debate will continue no matter what Congress does. Read Bill Bennett's op-ed piece, and use it when you discuss same-sex marriage with your neighbors. Whether or not our society should recognize gay marriages is an issue that will ultimately be decided in the court of public opinion. And we have to remind our neighbors of what is really at stake. As Rep. Steve Largent reminded us during the Congressional debate over DOMA, no society that embraces homosexuality has ever survived.


Chuck Colson


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