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Friday, January 30 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Defense of marriage - 5
A Protestant statement on "gay marriage"

As promised on Wednesday, the following is a Protestant position on "same-sex marriage." Focus on the Family, the publisher of the following, is one of the most respected mainstream (evangelical) Protestant organizations studying and teaching on the family and issues related to it. As with the Catholic position stated here on Wednesday, I'm not presenting this as the "last word" or as holy writ, but as an example of a succinct presentation of principles often invoked but seldom rationally explained.

Focus on the Family's Position Statement on Same-Sex "Marriage" and Civil Unions January 16, 2004

Marriage is a sacred union, ordained by God to be a life-long, sexually exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. Focus on the Family holds this institution in the highest esteem, and strongly opposes any legal sanction of marriage counterfeits, such as the legalization of same-sex "marriage" or the granting of marriage-like benefits to same-sex couples, cohabiting couples, or any other non-marital relationship. History, nature, social science, anthropology, religion, and theology all coalesce in vigorous support of marriage as it has always been understood: a life-long union of male and female for the purpose of creating stable families.

History and Marriage Marriage is not an American invention. It has existed as an institution since the beginning of civilization, and thus supersedes our modern laws. Every long-standing society has viewed marriage as a union of male and female. Studies of previous civilizations reveal that when a society strays from the sexual ethic of marriage, it deteriorates and eventually disintegrates.1

Nature and Marriage Even a casual observation of nature reveals the vital distinctions between male and female and the need that each has for the other. Gender distinctions are not simply an artificial social construct. Men and women are uniquely designed to complement each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Marriage is the means for melding the two sexes into a stronger and more complete whole. Thus while marriage has intrinsic value of its own, a primary purpose of marriage is procreation. Marriage is the natural and best means for the propagation of the human race.

Children and Marriage The optimal environment for raising a child is one in which the child's mother and father are married to each other. Deliberately depriving a child of a mother or a father is not in the child's best interest. On average, when compared with children raised by both parents, children in single-parent homes fare worse in virtually every measure of well-being.2 The sparse research regarding children raised in same-sex couple households reveals that such children are comparable in well-being to those in single-parent households.3 In addition, children raised by homosexuals are significantly more likely to develop a homosexual orientation themselves.4 Men and women are distinctly different. Each gender brings vitally important - and unique - elements to a child's development. Research reveals that the presence of a father in the home affects children's cognitive and verbal skills, academic performance, involvement in or avoidance of high-risk behaviors and crime, and emotional and psychological health.5 A wealth of research and information has been published about the power and importance of the mother-child bond.6

Discrimination and Marriage We elevate marriage in our laws over other relationships because marriage has proven over millennia to be an obvious societal good. Marriage is open to any two individuals provided they meet certain criteria regarding age and blood relationship, and provided the individuals are of the opposite sex. Homosexual activists seek not to end discrimination, but rather to completely redefine - and thus undermine - the foundational institution of marriage. Indeed, some prominent gay activists have gone so far as to state this as their goal.7 This powerful, advantaged, vocal special interest group is seeking not to be left alone, not to be simply tolerated or even respected, but to force its views on the rest of society.

Love and Marriage Those who would redefine marriage often insist that the only necessary qualification for marriage is "love." Yet if one accepts that rationale, then there can logically be no boundaries as to what constitutes marriage; any combination or number of consenting individuals must ultimately gain the same legal and societal sanction as traditional marriage. While love is vital, it is not the definitional element of marriage. We love many people we do not marry.

Religion and Marriage The five major world religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism recognize and uphold the natural, heterosexual understanding of marriage. By contrast, these religions teach that homosexual behavior is sinful or wrong.8

The Bible and Marriage Marriage is the first institution ordained by God and has served from the beginning as the foundation for continuation of the human race. Genesis tells us that shortly after the creation of the first man, God acknowledged Adam's incompleteness. God then created Eve as Adam's partner, his completer, and blessed their union.9 Jesus underscored the importance and sacredness of marriage in His own teachings.10 The apostle Paul taught that the marital relationship is to be an ongoing demonstration of the sacrificial love that Christ showed His church. In contrast, the Bible clearly proscribes any form of homosexual behavior as sinful.11 As such, it is not and cannot be the basis for a sacred marriage relationship.

Marriage is unquestionably good for individuals and society. It deserves respect and protection. Any efforts to redefine marriage destroy the institution. Thus we oppose any government recognition or endorsement of marriage counterfeits, including same-sex unions.

Glenn T. Stanton is Director of Social Research and Cultural Affairs and Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family. He is also author of Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society (Pinon Press).

1See J. D. Unwin, Sexual Regulations and Human Behavior (London: Williams & Norgate, 1933).
2See, for example, D. A. Dawson, "Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well-being," Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53:573-584 (1991).
3See F. Tasker and S. Golombok, "Adults Raised as Children in Lesbian Families," American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 65:2: 203-215 (1995).
4Ibid. See also, T. J. Dailey, "Breaking the Ties that Bind." Family Research Council Insight, February 18, 2000.
5See D. Blankenhorn, Fatherless America. (New York: Basic Books, 1995). See also, K. D. Pruett, Fatherneed. (New York: Free Press, 2000).
6See for example, B. Hunter, The Power of Mother Love. (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 1997).
7See, for example, Michelangelo Signorile, "Bridal Wave," Out, January/February 1994, at p. 161.
8"Major World Religions on the Question of Marriage," Marriage Law Project, April 2000, at <http://marriagelaw.cua.edu>.
9Genesis 2:24.
10Matthew 19:6.
11Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:18-32; I Corinthians 6:9-11

Copyright © 2004 CitizenLink/Focus on Social Issues. CitizenLink® and its Web site subsidiaries are property of Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

As always, feedback in the form of opposing or supporting views are welcome, either to the list directly, or to me for use in this space.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

One Liners On Life

My neighbor was bitten by a stray rabid dog. I went to see how he was and found him writing frantically on a piece of paper. I told him rabies could be cured and he didn't have to worry about a Will. He said, "Will? What Will? I'm making a list of the people I want to bite!"

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people.

— C. S. Lewis
The Case for Christianity

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