Jared Wright has written seven reasons why Adventists should support same-sex marriage [It currently has 424 comments and has 3814 pageviews]. These deserve a response.
At the outset, I wish to say that I hold nothing but empathy and love toward my gay brothers and sisters. I wish for little more than that they lead happy, fulfilled lives in the company of the people they love. But this heartfelt caring does not obviate my belief that marriage itself ought to remain solely between a man and a woman.
To answer Wright’s points in order: First, proscribing same-sex marriage does not violate the separation of church and state unless religious belief is the only argument. But it isn’t. Every significant civilization in history has kept marriage strictly between male and female, and not only because of religion.
The main reason, apart from religious belief, for opposing same-sex marriage is the welfare of children. Most people throughout history have understood that children need both types of parents, male and female. One problem with same-sex marriage, which will mean widespread adoption by gays, is that it will involve a radical social experiment on children, who can hardly consent to such adult-focused rearrangements.
All other things being equal, one wonders which parent Wright would willingly have jettisoned in favor of two of the same sex. It should be noted that divorce or death does not deprive a child of an opposite sex parent as does same-sex marriage. Little Jane, having been adopted by John and Steve, will never in her whole life know what it is to have a mother. A baby boy adopted by two women will never have a father—never. Talk about “total deprivation”!
While some do argue that changing the definition of marriage will harm marriage, we can thus see that the larger problem is that it would damage society. It would do this by further breaking down the traditional family—which is the best place in which to raise children—and by fully normalizing homosexual relationships, a trend which is already leading to more same-sex experimentation and sexual confusion in young people.
Changing the definition of marriage will be confusing to all children, who will now be acculturated to ask themselves and each other whether they might like to marry a boy or a girl when they grow up. No preferencing of one situation over the other, either in the classroom or in textbooks or anywhere else, will be allowed once the definition of marriage is changed. Efforts toward this mandated parity are already underway; enacting same-sex marriage would cement them.
Another serious but less recognized concern is that when the definition of marriage is expanded to include same-sex couples, religious liberty is seriously threatened. Laws passed to protect the rights of special interest groups very often interact with religion in ways we don’t expect, as evidenced here and here.
As for enforcing morality through law, we do it all the time, as with current civil rights laws. Some moral principles we enforce through law, some we don’t. On such a massive, unprecedented change, let’s allow the democratic process to decide.
Wright speaks of how marriage benefits both society and couples, whether opposite sex or same-sex. These are fair and powerful points that would be persuasive if the arguments against same-sex marriage were not strong. But the acknowledged benefits of promoting fidelity and monogamy amongst gays must be weighed against the downsides of same-sex marriage, the outgrowth of which may not be fully apparent for some time.
The argument that because we were right to reverse course on slavery, we must be right to change the definition of marriage is a non sequitur. Just because one is wrong doesn’t mean the other is wrong. Slavery was wrong; keeping marriage between a man and a woman may well be right. It does not become wrong simply because a group of people, dwarfed by the judgment of the ages, suddenly decides it is wrong (and it is “suddenly” in the scope of history).
The comparison between proscribing same-sex marriage and proscribing interracial marriage is inapt. There is no essential difference between blacks and whites. There is a world of difference between men and women. Marriage utilizes these differences to bring balance and complementarity both to the relationship itself and the raising of children, who vitally need the unique characteristics male and female bring to their parenting.
As for whether same-sex marriage will be used toward achieving the legalization of polygamy and other creative arrangements, we do not need to wonder. Newsweek has a sobering article on the jump-starting of the polygamy movement, so clearly given impetus, inspiration, and rationale by the successes of the gay rights movement.
Wright wrote, “Same-sex marriage does not pose a threat to me, my choices, or my way of life.”
While it’s not the same, this reminds one of the “divorce-threatens-marriage” canard. “People divorce, people marry their own sex, who cares? MY marriage isn’t affected.”
Wisdom does not only think of oneself or the present; it considers the larger group and the long-range view. This issue of changing the definition of marriage is not simply about me or my way of life. It is about all of us, and it is about the future.
Nothing in the disallowing of same-sex marriage prohibits gays from living as stable, committed couples. But in insisting upon the title of marriage, same-sex partners are demanding that society change what has been true through all of history—that men marry only women, and women only men.
It is an understandable wish, and those making the demand may indeed be accurate in believing they are wiser and more moral than all the religious teachers and all the sages of the past. But at the very least, we should acknowledge the hubris such a belief involves, and we need to be certain the bulk of society is on board with it. Until then, it is patently clear we need a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. As seen in California, this is the only thing that will prevent a single judge’s dubious moral certainty from becoming the margin needed to overturn the clear will and judgment of the people.
Janine Goffar is a Seventh-day Adventist writer living in Loma Linda, California. She is author of “The C.S. Lewis Index: A Comprehensive Guide to Lewis's Writings and Ideas.”
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/848