Gay Marriage Should NOT Be Legal
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The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Yet, same-sex marriage continues to be a highly debated issue that leaves our society searching for answers. Traditionally marriage is the union of a man and a woman. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of marriage reads "to join as a husband and wife according to law and custom; to take as husband or wife; to enter into a close union" (452). Dictionaries are not a biased publication and serve as a guide to what words mean. The words "husband" and "wife" show that marriage is a close union between a man and a woman. This idea could be disputed if we only looked at the third part of a definition?"to enter into a close union." But if we only look at the third part, then we change the definition altogether. Obviously we can not look only at a dictionary to gain a deeply rooted belief; so let us continue with the search for a firm foundation.
Elections are being affected by the way people stand on this issue. After the 1992 election, President Clinton, who is said by Human Events to be the most "pro-gay President in history," adamantly tried to abolish the ban on gays in the military. This was a victory cry for many homosexual activists. Then in the 1996 election, President Clinton admitted he would not openly oppose the bill in Congress that defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" ("Same-sex Marriage Imperils the Family"). President Clinton, who generally supports gay rights, gives Americans a reason to believe that perhaps gay marriage is one step too far. Even First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed that marriage should be a union of a man and a woman in her statement, "Marriage has got historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been: between a man and a woman" (State of the Union").
In the recent 2000 Election, both George W. Bush and Al Gore agree with the Defense of Marriage act (DOMA), which "implies that allowing homosexuals to marry constituted an 'attack' on the existing institution" ("State of the Union"). It is difficult to find many issues with which these two candidates can agree. So, it seems that since they do agree, we can assume that a gay marriage would in fact intrude upon the values of not only marriage but also we as a people.
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Gay Marriage President Clinton Way People Controversial Issues Gay Rights Dictionary Sex Marriage Homosexual Activists
As of now, thirty states acknowledge marriage only as a union of a man and a woman, yet not one of the fifty states officially recognize the marriage of two members of the same sex. Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii all considered legalizing same-sex marriages, but none have been successful. One of the most shocking states is California. California voters voted in favor of a ballot that acknowledges only the marriage of a man and a woman. This decision in California is a disappointment for gay marriage advocates. California is a state famous for voicing its opinions on the issues and we have its opinion on this issue. The ballot was decisive with a 61 percent-to-39 percent marginal win ("A 'No' to Gay Marriage"). The values of traditional marriage are still being upheld even in states that are traditionally pro-gay.
Throughout the court rulings and legislation, we have to look at the pros and cons of this issue. I would like to discuss the pros and cons list published by U.S. News and World Report. One pro for same-sex marriage says, "banning same-sex marriage is discriminatory." This pro says marriage is a "right and should not be denied to any individual." This argument goes on to compare same-sex marriages with other minorities who have been denied marriage in the past history of our nation ("Should Gay Marriage be Legal?"). Some heterosexual minorities may be offended by the fact they are grouped with the homosexual minority. Is that not also discriminating? Is banning same-sex marriage really discriminatory? Throughout history groups of people have, are, and will be denied their wants, but does this mean they are being discriminated against?
Another pro for same-sex marriages?it "supports stability." It stabilizes by allowing gays and lesbians to enjoy the same level of commitment that heterosexual couples share. It goes on to say that same-sex marragies should be endorsed by religious conservatives as an "endorsement of traditional values." It also says that marriage would promote "stability and long-term commitment" ("Should Gay Marriage be Legal?"). Same-sex marriages are not traditional, and thus would not be an endorsement of traditional values. Marriage is not the solution to keeping people together; even heterosexual couples cannot turn to marriage as a way to keep them together. Marriage is a blessed union that should be the result of a committed relationship and a life-long commitment before the ceremony ever takes place. Marriage cannot solve problems or promise a life-long commitment?as heterosexual marriage demonstrates. Couples can, however, promise to work through problems and gain a life-long commitment through hard work and unfailing love.
Tax benefits are also listed under the pros of same-sex marriage. It is said that marriage would legally pressure those in same-sex marriage "to care for a loved one 'in sickness and in health.'" This may be true, but tax dollars will also be spent on federal benefits and tax breaks. The federal treasury will be forced to subtract from its already burdened balance.
Another pro says, "religious values shouldn't dictate who gets married." This argument is backed by the separation of church and state. It does not believe that a civil marriage should be denied but that a religious marriage would still be left up to the religious groups. Some religious groups may want to perform them. "The decision to marry should belong to the individual, not the government, religious groups or political extremists" ("Should Gay Marriage be Legal?"). If the decision to marry belongs solely to the individual, does the decision to steal, murder, or lie also belong to the individual?
The first con of same-sex marriage states that "heterosexual marriage is sacred." U.S. News and World Report writes that "same-sex marriage is a violation of basic biblical tenets. No culture has endorsed the idea of men marrying men or women marrying women. . . Marriage as an institution already threatened by divorce and by the erosion of religion and family values." If same-sex marriages are legalized, what comes next ("Should Gay Marriage be Legal"?)?
"One state court should not dictate marriage laws for the entire nation." The U. S. Constitution calls for each state to give "full faith and credit" to decisions of other states. If one state legalized same-sex marriages, the other 49 states can be forced to recognize the court decisions of one state.
"Marriage is about procreation." Marriage rights and privileges are fixed on the presupposition that married couples will have children and raise them as law-abiding citizens. Some heterosexual couples do not and will not have children, but the government cannot ask couples what their plans for reproduction will be. Allowing the legalization of same-sex marriages will only further the deterioration of marriage as an institution ("Should Gay Marriage be Legal?").
The last con relates back to the tax benefit pro. "Marriage benefits cost money." Same-sex couples would enjoy the federal benefits and tax breaks just like heterosexual couples do. Tax dollars would be going to lifestyles with which not all taxpayers agree ("Should Gay Marriage be Legal?").
As I end this essay, I would like to explain why and what I believe and why I believe it. I would like to share my firm foundation. I realize not all my readers will agree with me or hold my same beliefs, but please hear my case.
I do not believe that homosexuals are bad people. A homosexual is not worse than a heterosexual or vice versa. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 KJV). We are all the same. I do believe that the act of homosexuality is wrong, just as is murder, stealing, lying, and adultery. No sin is above another. I also believe that the Bible is very clear about God's view on homosexuality. Romans 1:24-28 reads,
Wherefore God also gave them up to the uncleanness through the lusts of
their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves; who
changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the
creature, more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this
cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did
change the natural use into what is against nature: and likewise also the
men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one
another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving
themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as
they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to
a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.
In closing, I hope that this gives you a few of the reasons same-sex marriage would be destructive to the traditional, moral, and legal foundation of marriage. There are political, economical and moral issues at hand. This is not an easy issue or light issue and must be carefully thought out before a life-long decision is made. Please consider the issue and stakes at hand as you form your own firm foundation.
Holy Bible?King James Version. Iowa: Riverside Book and Bible House, 1986.
"Same-sex Marriage Imperils the Family." Human Events. 5 May 1996:3. Online
Source. EBSCO Host. Galileo.
"Should Gay Marriage be Legal?" U.S. News and World Report. 3 June 1996: 31.
Online Source. EBSCO Host. Galileo.
Sullivan, Andrew. "State of the Union." New Republic. May 2000: 18. Online
EBSCO Host. Galileo.
Tharp, Michael. "A 'No" to Gay Marriage." U.S. News and World Report. 3 March
2000: 39. Online Source. EBSCO Host. Galileo.
With two landmark gay marriage cases before the Supreme Court we are already seeing a flurry of articles, posts, tweets, and status updates about the triumph it will be when America finally embraces equality for all and allows homosexuals to love each other. These tweets and posts and articles perfectly capture the reason why the arguments for gay marriage have become so persuasive so fast. Given the assumptions and patterns of thinking our culture has embraced in the last fifty years, the case for gay marriage is relatively easy to make and the case against it makes increasingly little sense.
I don’t think the arguments for gay marriage are biblically faithfully, logically persuasive, or good for human flourishing in the long run, but they are almost impossible to overcome with most Americans, especially in younger generations. By and large, people don’t support gay marriage because they’ve done a lot of reading and soul searching, just like people didn’t oppose it on high flying intellectual grounds either. For a long time, homosexuality seemed weird or gross. Now it seems normal. More than that, it fits in perfectly with the dominant themes and narratives shared in our culture. Gay marriage is the logical conclusion to a long argument, which means convincing people it’s a bad idea requires overturning some of our most cherished values and most powerful ideologies.
Think of all the ways gay marriage fits in with our cultural mood and assumptions.
1. It’s about progress. Linking the pro-gay agenda with civil rights and women’s rights was very intentional, and it was a masterstroke. To be against gay marriage, therefore, is to be against enlightenment and progress. It puts you on the “wrong side of history.” Of course, most people forget that lots of discarded ideas were once hailed as the inevitable march of progress. Just look at Communism or eugenics or phrenology or the Volt. But people aren’t interested in the complexities of history. We only know we don’t want to be like the nincompoops who thought the sun revolved around the earth and that slavery was okay.
2. It’s about love. When gay marriage is presented as nothing but the open embrace of human love, it’s hard to mount a defense. Who could possibly be against love? But hidden in this simple reasoning is the cultural assumption that sexual intercourse is necessarily the highest, and perhaps the only truly fulfilling, expression of love. It’s assumed that love is always self-affirming and never self-denying. It’s assumed that our loves never require redirection. Most damagingly, our culture (largely because of heterosexual sins) has come to understand marriage as nothing but the state sanctioning of romantic love. The propagation and rearing of children do not come into play. The role in incentivizing socially beneficial behavior is not in the public eye. People think of marriage as nothing more than the commitment (of whatever duration) which romantic couples make to each other.
3. It’s about rights. It’s not by accident the movement is called the gay rights movement. And I don’t deny that many gays and lesbians feel their fundamental human rights are at stake in the controversy over marriage. But the lofty talk of rights blurs an important distinction. Do consenting adults have the right to enter a contract of their choosing? It depends. Businesses don’t have a right to contract for collusion. Adults don’t have a right to enter into a contract that harms the public good. And even if you think these examples are beside the point, the fact remains that no law prohibits homosexuals (or any two adults) from making promises to each other, from holding a ceremony, from entering into a covenant with each other. The question is whether the government should bestow upon that contract the name of marriage with all the rights and privileges thereto.
4. It’s about equality. Recently, I saw a prominent Christian blogger tweet that she was for gay marriage because part of loving our neighbor is desiring they get equal justice under the law. Few words in the American lexicon elicit such broad support as “equality.” No one wants to be for unequal treatment under the law. But the issue before the Supreme Court is not equality, but whether two laws–one voted in by the people of California and the other approved by our democratically elected officials–should be struck down. Equal treatment under the law means the law is applied the same to everyone. Gay marriage proponents desire to change the law so that marriage becomes something entirely different. Surveys often pose the question “Should it be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to marry?” That makes it sound like we are criminalizing people for commitments they make. The real issue, however, is whether the state has a vested interest in sanctioning, promoting, and privileging certain relational arrangements. Is it unjust for the state not to recognize as marriage your group of four friends, close cousins, or an office suite just because they want their commitments to be called marriage?
5. It’s about tolerance. Increasingly, those who oppose gay marriage are not just considered wrong or mistaken or even benighted. They are anti-gay haters. As one minister put it, gay marriage will eventually triumph because love is stronger than hate. Another headline rang out that “discrimination is on trial” as the Supreme Court hears arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA. The stark contrast is clear: either you support gay marriage or you are a bigot and a hater. It’s no wonder young people are tacking hard to left on this issue. They don’t want to be insensitive, close-minded, or intolerant. The notion that thoughtful, sincere, well-meaning, compassionate people might oppose gay marriage is a fleeting thought.
So what can be done? The momentum, the media, the slogans, the meta-stories all seem to be on the other side. Now what?
For starters, churches and pastors and Christian parents can prepare their families both intellectually and psychologically for the opposition that is sure to come. Conservative Christians have more kids; make sure they know what the Bible says and know how to think.
We should also remember that the church’s mission in life is not to defeat gay marriage. While too many Christians have already retreated, there may be others who reckon that everything hangs in the balance on this one issue. Let’s keep preaching, persevering, pursuing joy, and praying for conversions. Christians should care about the issue, and then carry on.
And if we are interested in being persuasive outside of our own churches, we’ll have to do several things better.
1) We need to go back several steps in each argument. We’ll never get a hearing on this issue, or a dozen others issues, unless we trace out the assumptions behind the assumptions behind the arguments behind the conclusions.
2) We need more courage. The days of social acceptability for evangelicals, let alone privilege, are fading fast in many parts of the country. If we aren’t prepared to be counter-cultural we aren’t ready to be Christians. And we need courage not only to say what the Bible says, but to dare say what almost no one will say–that gay sex is unnatural and harmful to the body, that abandoning gender distinctions will be catastrophic for our society and for children, and that monogamy and exclusivity is often understood differently in the gay community.
3) We need more creativity. Statements and petitions and manifestos have their place, but what we really need is more than words and documents. We need artists and journalists and movie makers and story tellers and spoken word artists and comedians and actors and rappers and musicians who are galvanized by the truth to sing and speak and share in such a way that makes sin look strange and righteousness look normal.
4) We need a both-and approach. In the months ahead I imagine we’ll see Christians wrestle with whether the best way forward is to form new arguments that appeal to people where they’re at, or whether we simply need to keep preaching the truth and trust God to give some people the ears to hear. I’m convinced we need to do both. Let’s keep preaching, teaching, and laboring for faithful churches. Let’s be fruitful and multiply. Let’s train our kids in the way they should go. Let’s keep sharing the good news and praying for revival. And let’s also find ways to make the truth plausible in a lost world. Not only the truth about marriage, but the truth about life and sex and creation and beauty and family and freedom and a hundred other things humans tend to forget on this side of Adam. The cultural assumptions in our day are not on our side, but if the last 50 years has shown us anything, it’s that those assumptions can change more quickly than we think.