Brave New Marriage

The greeting-card companies may have to come up with a new kind of Valentine's Day card next year: one that celebrates, not the joys of married love, but of economic unions. Hawaii's high court is poised to take all the romance out of marriage and redefine it as just another legal contract. In a recent article in the National Review, law professor Gerard Bradley writes that for months, conservatives have feared that Hawaii's high court would foist "gay marriage" on the state. In reality, Bradley said, what's happening in Hawaii is far more radical than gay marriage. When most people talk of marriage, Bradley says, they mean the historical definition: the sexual union of a man and a woman, which requires both sexual complementarity and consummation. When the Hawaiian government refused to allow a lesbian couple marry, it argued that its decision had nothing to do with discrimination; it had to do with the fact that same-sex partners are physically incapable of marriage. The logic is impeccable—to anyone but a Hawaii Supreme Court justice, that is. In Baehr v. Miike, the court said marriage is "a state-conferred legal status," and then listed 14 specific benefits to marriage, 12 of them economic. As Bradley put it, the judges' idea of marriage is sexless and almost all about money. It's immaterial whether a same-sex couple is gay or not, because marriage is no longer about sex: it's about government benefits. It's an abolishment of true marriage. Bradley's article exposes a new strategy in the movement to legalize gay marriage. I suspect gay rights leaders began to realize how difficult it would be to argue that homosexuality is equivalent to heterosexuality, because they'd be up against the weight of 3,500 years of considered moral determinations of every civilized society. Instead, gays have decided to try to change the very definition of marriage to simply a contractual agreement between two people—any two people. The problem, of course, is that this definition flies smack in the teeth of the biblical definition of marriage. Christian tradition treats marriage as a covenant, or a sacrament. It's a man and woman covenanting before God to become one flesh and to perpetuate the human race. That's the reason society has set marriage apart and given it certain sanctions and privileges in the law. But if government were to say that marriage is simply a contract for sharing economic benefits, it would unravel the most basic structure of society. It strikes at the heart of what a civilized society is—and that is deadly dangerous. You and I have to help our friends, neighbors, and church groups understand this new attack on traditional marriage. And we have to help our churches reinstate the idea of marriage as a holy union. Otherwise, we will see the end of true marriage in America—and marriage vows will have all the romance of zoning laws.


Chuck Colson


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