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Friday, June 26, 2015

Faith Steps excerpt: How to lovingly and reasonably communicate in public the rationale for valuing true marriage

Given today's Supreme Court ruling on marriage, below is an excerpt from Faith Steps, Chapter 14, "Freedom of Faith, Conscience and Speech":
While many followers of Christ draw from Scripture the concept of marriage as solely between a man and a woman, secular governments for centuries also have advanced such conjugal marriage because of its benefits to children, the economy[1] and social stability.[2]
Unfortunately, the modern debate over marriage often has been marked by more passion than reason, with relationships and reputations suffering as a result. Some who name the Name of Christ unfortunately have violated the highest tenets of our faith by showing only disgust and not love for those who practice homosexuality. This fuels a public misperception that all opponents of same-sex marriage are hateful bigots.
Other believers do show love toward homosexuals yet remain unpracticed in presenting rational arguments for a secular audience in the public square. They feel at a loss to cogently defend what they know is a cornerstone of biblical teaching–namely, that sex is reserved for the marriage of a man and a woman. So they just accept same-sex marriage even though it counters what they know true marriage to be.
Believers, however, need not take either a position of bigotry or of defeatism regarding marriage. We can communicate love and simultaneously advocate for the truth about marriage.
A public message advocating for conjugal marriage might sound something like this:
We love and respect those who practice homosexuality and support policies that protect their dignity and appropriate[3] equal protection under the law. But marriage remains a consensual, exclusive and lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, expressed in a physical union uniquely designed to produce and nurture children.
Removing these objective defining factors makes marriage meaningless. By uprooting and replacing the definition of marriage with a subjective notion based on emotional relationship, divorced from the natural and objective marital elements of physical union and procreation, no rational parameters remain that would exclude further redefinitions of "marriage" as between multiple partners, related persons, or even persons and non-persons.
An affirmation of the exclusivity of marriage as between one man and one woman does not preclude separate personal, societal or legal sanction of any other consensual relationship. The core debate hinges not on a moral evaluation of various types of relationships, but rather on the objective qualities that make marriage, marriage.
Even those who lovingly and reasonably communicate in public the rationale for valuing conjugal marriage, however, face an incredibly harsh and judgmental reaction from activists, the media, politicians and other segments of society. We technically may still live in a democracy, but the intolerance of divergent views often seems more akin to a totalitarian state that systematically erases ideological diversity.
The drive toward ideological conformity looks like this:
1.      First the culture makes a controversial practice socially acceptable.
2.      Then policy makers and the courts make the practice legal.
3.      Finally, the culture and the government join to enforce the practice–including punishing objectors.[4]
With that in mind, consider urging your legislators to protect our First Amendment freedoms of thought and belief, by quickly passing legislation to protect conscientious dissenters from discrimination regarding marriage. We urgently need to pass the federal First Amendment Defense Act.
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[1] See, for example, Patrick Fagan, “The Wealth of Nations Depends on the Health of Families,” Public Discourse, February 6, 2013,, accessed July 10, 2014.
[2] For a thorough discussion of these characteristics, see Sherif Girgis, Ryan T Anderson and Robert P George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (New York: Encounter Books, 2012).
[3] The word "appropriate" indicates that equal protection under the law means that while the law must be applied without unjust bias, that does not mean that every law must apply to everyone in exactly the same way. A law pertaining to pregnancy will not apply to everyone because by definition, the state of pregnancy can only apply to women. A law pertaining to American citizens, such as the guarantee of a trial by a jury of peers, does not apply to enemy combatants.
[4] For example, the women's movement and other cultural forces made abortion acceptable. The Supreme Court made it legal in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The Obama administration enforced the practice and punished objectors through federal agency policies.

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