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No, it’s still not right

Twenty years later, you still cannot redefine marriage

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No, it’s still not right

Depending on your age, same-sex “marriage” may be as quintessentially American as baseball and apple pie at this point. That was what I came away with after reading Molly Ball’s Wall Street Journal report on how same-sex nuptials have transformed the American landscape. In her telling, the transformation has been a stunning success, winning wide cultural approval. As Ball tells it, the effects have been commonplace as gay couples have largely conformed themselves to the otherwise humdrum and bucolic trappings of other ordinary marriages. One expert interviewed noted that “overall, the fears of opponents of same-sex marriage simply have not come to pass.”

As an opponent of same-sex marriage dating back to over a decade now, I beg to differ. Ball is not altogether wrong in her reporting that many within same-sex marriages find themselves enjoying the routineness of their relationship in the eyes of the world. And yet, the fact that something becomes routine does not mean that it is right or good. What Ball’s reporting focuses on is the personal aspects of same-sex marriage as an institutional phenomenon while overlooking the significant downstream negative consequences of same-sex marriage on American culture. And on that front, there have been many.

Consider the ongoing religious liberty challenges that have come from the regime of same-sex marriage, ceremoniously codified in the Obergefell ruling. The late Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito alike accurately predicted the increased social marginalization that would come from opposing same-sex marriage. One might read that sentence and object, saying, “So says the guy stating his opposition to same-sex marriage in a mainstream Christian publication.” But my concerns aren’t mainly about what Christians can say to other Christians. My concerns are for the larger context and what Christians (and Christian institutions) can or cannot do once opposition to same-sex relationships is equated with racism or some other type of malicious, irrational opinion. Consider one small overlooked event that occurred in February of this year when Justice Alito stated his vindication about social hostility toward religious conservatives in a case where jurors were removed from the jury pool for declaring their opposition to same-sex relationships.

That may seem relatively insignificant, but support for natural marriage was considered grounds for dismissal in the very act of due process itself. Too many episodes could be repeated that could document the chilling acts of discrimination—cultural and legal—against those who object to same-sex marriage.

“Love is love” and “Here, kid, take these hormones” share a common root in denying human teleology.

It is also no longer shocking that elite publications routinely celebrate non-monogamy and polyandry. A decade ago, social conservatives warned that eliminating the principle of complementarity from marriage’s definition would lead to further regressions and degradations in how we understand the exclusivity of relationships. We, too, stand vindicated despite objections that we were invoking the slippery slope fallacy. It turns out that those slopes really are slippery.

We also cannot overlook how the success of the same-sex marriage movement fueled the cause for transgender “rights.” Though some homosexual activists are now putting distance between themselves and the more extreme wings of the transgender movement, that distance is artificial and purely political. Homosexual activists need to sit back and take ownership of the reality that the transgender movement has drafted off their success. “Love is love” and “Here, kid, take these hormones” share a common root in denying human teleology.

Same-sex marriage has also fueled the redefinition and imagination around how we conceive of family structure and how children are to be brought into this world. While a child with two moms or two dads may seem commonplace now, nature persists in telling us that it is unnatural. Children need moms and dads in conjoined pairs, not just in any random combination. The legal move to intentionally ensconce children in homes that lack maternal or paternal love cannot be considered anything else than a fundamental denial of creation order and Biblical justice. Furthermore, the move to treat the infertility of homosexual couples as a medical condition deserving of insurance coverage for IVF and surrogacy rather than as a fact of nature is telltale evidence that our supposedly enlightened society is anything but.

On this front, though, there is cause for some encouragement. Defenders of natural marriage lost the cultural argument because we were viewed as defending a faceless “institution.” We were defending an abstract concept, while the marriage revisionists were seen as defending people. If you ever find yourself defending a concept instead of people, the sheer fact of human existence and our desire for empathy ensures that people will always win over concepts. Nonetheless, a burgeoning children’s rights movement with individuals like Katy Faust and her organization Them Before Us is doing yeoman’s work in reminding us what should have been the most pressing argument from the start: Marriage is about the well-being of children, not simply the desires of adults. Defend children and you’ll find yourself defending marriage, too.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.

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