The Marriage Debate: A Few Points of Clarity

Here are just a few points of clarity for understanding the current debate about the definition of marriage.

1. The debate is not really about one side advocating equality versus a side advocating inequality. It is rather about the nature of the equality being advocated. Advocates for traditional marriage do not deny the equal right to be married to anyone. In other words, the traditional view advocates that every adult in our country have the right to get married to someone of the opposite sex. When a man and woman get married, they are choosing to exercise that right. When a man or woman reject traditional marriage for the sake of homosexual feelings, they are choosing not to exercise that right. But they have the same right nonetheless.

2. The debate is not just an issue of personal freedom for homosexuals but also of personal freedom of traditional families. Advocates for the redefinition of marriage claim that their rights are infringed upon by the current laws. But it is vital to see that every step our country takes toward approving homosexual marriage is an attack on the rights of the traditional family. A parent should have the right to know that his child’s school will not teach homosexuality as a legitimate, healthy option. A citizen should have the right to know that his tax money is not going toward expenses related to legalized homosexual marriages. The list goes on and on. But the main point is that the personal rights argument goes both ways. The real question is which direction is right and, consequently, best for society.

3. The debate is not just one of personal consequence but also of massive societal impact. It does no good to reason, “What should I care about someone else’s business?” We cannot avoid the fact that this issue is all of our business. Traditional marriage is foundational to a healthy society. The reason it should receive governmental recognition and tax benefits is because there is nothing better for society than a faithful husband and wife raising children in a responsible way. Just because that ideal is so often imperfectly modeled, does not mean that society should not promote and reward traditional marriage over against other types of cohabitation. The further down the path of legally destroying marriage that our country moves, the more our country will be subject to terrible consequences on every level, in every home.

4. The debate is not something that can be discussed publically in a non-offensive way because it is inherently offensive. In other words, you cannot voice biblical convictions and avoid the accusation of being hateful. If all the facebook posting shows anything, it is that this accusation against Christians comes just as much from other Christians as from outspoken advocates for homosexual marriage. I believe that much of the criticism simply finds its source in a growing mood of hyper-sensitivity about being offensive. The feeling is basically this: Because the subject is offensive, it should not be discussed in public forums. Christians should certainly care about communicating in responsible tones, but the avoidance of offence is not at all to be their top priority. If Jesus’ main concern was not offending lost people, he would not have been crucified. I personally wonder how many people who make criticisms about the “hatefulness” of Christians on this issue are really just hating on boldness for truth, period.

5. The debate is an issue about what is right; therefore, Christians have a moral obligation to stand up and speak. If Christians are silent about issues of right and wrong, then society has lost its source of salt and light with regards to morality and Christians are not demonstrating love for God’s truth. Speaking personally, if I am not the kind of Christian man who speaks up for what is right even when the crowd is going to react, then I don’t think I am much of a Christian man. Of course, the gospel goes much deeper than moralism, but advocating right and wrong are fundamental to conviction and therefore to understanding one’s need of a Savior.

6. The debate must be allowed to happen through all mediums of communication. Though every medium has unique weaknesses that should be respected, all communication fronts are affected and, therefore, fair play for dialogue. The assault on traditional marriage is not contained to any one means of speech. Therefore, appropriate boldness is needed in a pervasive manner. Snide remarks against standing for the truth through facebook, twitter, advertising, classroom discussions when applicable, over lunch, or on the street corner for that matter, should not come from other Christians. Christians speaking for what is right in legitimate, well-mannered ways is always a good thing in any medium. Christians are not necessarily required to throw their pearls of truth into every context (Matt 7:6), but they are certainly not wrong for exercising fearless boldness for the sake of whatever is right.