This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 6 (2004). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org
The legalization of homosexual marriage threatens traditional marriage — the national immune system that protects our civilization from destruction. Biblically based arguments against homosexual marriage carry little weight in the public square; however, it is possible to make a reasonable argument to protect traditional marriage and oppose the legalization of homosexual marriage without appealing to the Bible. This argument is as follows:
1. Traditional marriage is beneficial to the public welfare.
2. Homosexual behavior is destructive to the public welfare.
3. The law is a great teacher; it encourages or discourages behavior and attitudes.
4. Legalization of homosexual marriage would encourage more homosexual behavior, which is inherently destructive. It also would weaken the perceived importance of traditional marriage and its parenting role, thereby resulting in further destruction of the family and society itself.
5. The law should endorse behaviors that are beneficial and restrain (or certainly not endorse) behaviors that are destructive.
6. Therefore, the law should endorse traditional marriage and it should restrain (or certainly not endorse) homosexual marriage.
I grew up in a small, blue-collar, New Jersey shore town where neighbors knew one another well. My best friend, who lived next door, had an older brother who became involved in homosexuality. He eventually went to New York City and immersed himself so deeply in the homosexual lifestyle that it cost him his life. We buried him 11 years ago at the age of 36 — dead from AIDS.
Well, it wasn’t actually AIDS that killed him. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) technically doesn’t kill anyone. It destroys the body’s immune system, which makes its victims susceptible to other diseases. Pneumonia and other ailments were the ultimate causes of my friend’s brother’s death. In the end, he became a shell of his former self. On his deathbed, his mind was so tainted by dementia that he cursed his own mother.
His parents were wonderful people who deeply loved their son. In retrospect, however, they made a well-intentioned decision that turned out to be a tragic mistake. In their noble effort to love their son under very difficult circumstances, they failed to distinguish between their son and their son’s behavior. They rightfully accepted their son as a person deserving of love, but they failed to oppose his destructive sexual behavior. Love requires that we stand in opposition to behavior that is likely to hurt or kill our loved ones. After some initial hesitancy, these well-meaning parents endorsed the homosexual lifestyle that ultimately led to their son’s death.
This tragic story is currently being played out on the national level in America. The players are different, but the results could be the same if we make the same mistake. Homosexual activists want our nation to endorse homosexual marriage; however, if we endorse homosexual marriage or civil unions, we risk doing exactly what those well-meaning parents did — endorsing a practice that could destroy our immune system. On the national scale, our immune system is traditional marriage.
In what sense is traditional marriage our “national immune system,” and how could homosexual marriage destroy it? In this article, I will offer answers to those questions and others as I make a case against homosexual marriage without citing the Bible. Don’t get me wrong: I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and have coauthored a book titled I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Crossway Books, 2004) that presents the evidence for why I believe this. I also believe that the Bible clearly opposes homosexual behavior; therefore, it implicitly opposes homosexual marriage. When debating moral issues in the public square, however, we Christians sometimes need to make our case in language that will convince those who haven’t accepted the authority of the Bible. The following six points, therefore, constitute a reasonable argument against the legalization of homosexual marriage that does not appeal to the Bible for support.
1. TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IS BENEFICIAL TO THE PUBLIC WELFARE
Traditional marriage provides the best environment in which to raise children. More than 10,000 studies document significant advantages children experience when raised by a committed and loving mother and father.1 These advantages include:
· A lower poverty rate. (On average, children from never-married homes spend 51 percent of their childhood in poverty compared to only 7 percent for children in married homes.)2
· A lower suicide rate. (Children from married homes are six times less likely to commit suicide than those from divorced homes.)3
· A lower crime rate. (Children from broken homes are more than twice as likely to end up in jail as are children from married homes.)4
· A higher health rate. (Children from married homes are generally healthier physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood than children from unmarried homes.)5
If these were the only benefits traditional marriage provided to society, it would be reason enough to give marriage privileged legal recognition. In fact, traditional marriage does much more; it serves as a kind of national immune system. When our marriage ethic is strong, our social ailments are few, but when our marriage ethic is weak, our social ailments increase. In addition to the positive effects listed above, traditional marriage also has the following benefits:
· It results in lower welfare costs to society.6
· It civilizes men and focuses them on productive pursuits. (Unmarried men cause society much more trouble than married men.)
· It protects women who have given up or postponed their careers to have children from being abandoned and harmed economically by uncommitted men.
· It protects mothers from violent crime. (Mothers who have never been married are more than twice as likely to suffer from violent crime than mothers who have married.)7
· It lengthens the life span of the man and the woman. (Married men, for example, tend to live nearly 20 years longer than single men.)8
· It encourages an adequate replacement birth rate, resulting in enough well-developed and productive young people who can contribute to society and provide social security to the elderly. (The United States is a dying nation — without immigration our population would be declining.)
These positive results of traditional marriage are not new to our twenty-first-century culture. British anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin studied 86 cultures spanning 5,000 years and found that the most prosperous cultures were those that maintained a strong traditional marriage ethic. Every civilization that abandoned this ethic by liberalizing their sexual practices began to deteriorate, including the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Roman empires.9
It’s not hard to understand why this is so. Traditional marriage results in procreation and meets the most basic needs of family members: safety, sustenance, and security. A civilized and productive society cannot long endure when its adults abandon this structure (and their children) in order to pursue their sexual desires.
2. HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR IS DESTRUCTIVE TO THE PUBLIC WELFARE
One often-repeated adage says, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.” Homosexual activists argue as if they are entitled to their own facts when they assert that there is no appreciable difference between heterosexual relationships and homosexual relationships. Homosexual marriage advocate Andrew Sullivan, for example, writes, “[Gay marriage] says for the first time that gay relationships are not better or worse than straight relationships.”10
The real fact, however, is that some relationships are better than others. People may be equal, but their behaviors are not. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the natural design and compatibility of the human male and female bodies; therefore, homosexual marriage can neither function the same way nor birth the same benefits as traditional marriage. In fact, homosexual marriage would actually hurt society at large. In addition to its inability to bring about procreation, homosexual behavior results in the following:
· It increases health problems among those who practice it, including AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), colon and rectal cancer, and hepatitis.11
· It shortens the median life span by 20–30 years. (One study showed that the median age of death for gay men and women without AIDS is in the early 40s.) 12
· It spreads disease to innocent people. (Some have died of AIDS after having a blood transfusion and thousands of heterosexuals have contracted STDs via sexual contact with bisexuals.)
· It costs Americans millions of dollars in higher medical insurance premiums because of the increased costs of covering health problems related to homosexual behavior.
The bottom line is that homosexual behavior is unhealthy and has negative consequences on society. Innocent people are affected by homosexual behavior.
Most homosexual activists become angry when someone cites these facts. Why would anyone become angry over facts? Augustine said we love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us.
A few homosexual activists, however, acknowledge the negative health effects mentioned above, but use them as a reason to support their cause. This “conservative” case for homosexual marriage suggests that homosexual monogamy would be encouraged by the legalization of homosexual marriage and would alleviate these health problems. Sullivan writes, “A law institutionalizing gay marriage would merely reinforce a healthy social trend. It would also, in the wake of AIDS, qualify as a genuine public health measure.”13
There are, however, at least three reasons why health problems and life span are not likely to improve significantly in so-called “committed” homosexual relationships.14 First, the main issue is not homosexual monogamy, it is homosexual behavior. Homosexual acts are inherently unhealthy, whether done with one partner or many. This is especially true of sexual acts between males. Anal intercourse, for example, causes a host of inherent health problems simply because the organs involved do not tolerate this act well.
Second, coupled homosexuals tend to practice more anal intercourse and more anal-oral sex than those without a steady partner. They also forgo safer-sex practices because they are “in love.”15 In other words, coupled homosexuals tend to engage in more risky sexual contact than their single counterparts.
Finally, strict monogamy is the exception rather than the rule among homosexuals. A recent survey foundinfidelity in about 62 percent of gay couples, which led researchers in the Journal of Family Psychology to write, “The practice of sexual nonmonogamy among some gay couples is one variable that differentiates gay and heterosexual couples.”16
Sullivan would not be surprised by this. He asserts that gay marriage might help make homosexuals more monogamous, but, paradoxically, he doesn’t believe monogamy is “flexible” enough for homosexuals. He calls monogamy a “stifling model of heterosexual normality” and thinks homosexuals have a greater “understanding for the need for extramarital outlets.” Incredibly, he believes heterosexuals could learn from homosexuals’ example in this matter. He writes, “Something of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.”17
One wonders how the “flexibility” to engage in “extramarital outlets” could “strengthen” any marital bond. The last thing our society needs, certainly, is for more married men and women to avail themselves of extramarital outlets! If, moreover, this is the kind of relationship homosexuals want to extol, then they need to call it something other than “marriage.”
Even if homosexuals stopped their “extramarital outlets,” and even if homosexual marriage could reduce some of their health problems, those unlikely possibilities do not justify making homosexual marriage the legal equivalent of traditional marriage. The ability to procreate belongs uniquely to the heterosexual relationship that accompanies traditional marriage; therefore, traditional marriage should be the only sexual relationship our society encourages legally. The law does matter.
3. THE LAW IS A GREAT TEACHER;IT ENCOURAGES OR DISCOURAGES BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDES
Homosexuals understandably want their relationships to have equal social status with those of heterosexuals and they see the law as their weapon to force the public to accept that equality. Sullivan writes, “If nothing else were done at all and gay marriage were legalized, ninety percent of the political work necessary to achieve gay and lesbian equality will have been achieved. It’s ultimately the only reform that matters.”18 In other words, the push for homosexual marriage isn’t really about civil rights, it’s about civil acceptance. Legalizing homosexual marriage is the one law that will legitimize homosexual behavior in general.
Sullivan is right about this; he recognizes the power of the law to change behavior and attitudes over the long run. The law is a great teacher. Many people think that whatever is legal is moral and therefore should be accepted. One only needs to look at two of the most divisive issues in the history of our country — slavery and abortion — to see the power of the law to influence behavior and attitudes.
One hundred and fifty years ago, our country was split on the issue of slavery. Today, virtually every American believes that slavery is morally wrong. What happened? After the Civil War, the law changed. The Thirteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution and it has helped teach each new generation that slavery is wrong.
Unfortunately, a change in the law can also lead new generations astray. When the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade opinion in 1973, most Americans thought abortion was wrong, as evidenced by the laws in each of the 50 states at that time that outlawed or restricted it. Today, however, the country is about evenly split. What happened? The law changed. In a situation that is the reverse of what happened with slavery, what was once considered immoral (and thus illegal) became sanctioned by the federal government. Legalization led to more social acceptance of abortion and a sixteen-fold increase in abortions nationwide. If homosexual marriage is legalized, we will likely see an increase in homosexual behavior as well.
There is actually a third example of the law’s impact: divorce. Homosexuals are right when they say that heterosexuals have degraded marriage through divorce; however, this is not an argument for homosexual marriage. In fact, the recent history of the law and divorce actually argues against homosexual marriage. The vast social problems America has experienced since the liberalization of divorce laws should help us realize just how important the law is to the health of the family. It should also help us realize how important traditional marriage is to the health of the country and why we should protect traditional marriage from the knockout blow homosexual marriage would deliver it. In the next section I will explain how homosexual marriage would do that.
4. LEGALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE WOULD ENCOURAGEMORE HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND CHANGE ATTITUDES TOWARD TRADITIONALMARRIAGE AND PARENTING, WHICH WOULD BE DESTRUCTIVE TO SOCIETY
It follows from points 2 and 3 above that the legalization of homosexual marriage would result in an increase in homosexual behavior. Not only so, but it would weaken the perceived importance of traditional marriage and its parenting role, thereby resulting in further destruction of the family and society itself.
How Would Homosexual Marriage Hurt Traditional Marriage?
Homosexual activists maintain that homosexual marriage would not affect traditional marriage, but they are wrong. Legalizing homosexual marriage would degrade traditional marriage, especially among future generations.
Right now, the legal benefits our society gives to married heterosexual couples affirm the fact that we consider traditional marriage to be the most valuable sexual relationship. If, for example, sexual relationships were players on a sports team, traditional marriage would get the most valuable player (MVP) award. In sports, that award is esteemed because it’s given only to the player whose performance is truly the most valuable. Suppose, however, that the league redefined the qualifications for the MVP award to the point where everyone in the league received the award, even those who performed poorly. Would anyone think the MVP award was special? Obviously not! Everyone would think it was meaningless. In the same way, the value of traditional marriage will be diminished if the government redefines the qualifications for marriage to include homosexual relationships (especially when it confers the same benefits on those relationships).
We need to face the facts: just as all players are not equally valuable to a team, all relationships are not equally valuable to a society. Evidence from 5,000 years of human history, the self-evident complimentary design of the male and female bodies, and the documented beneficial results of traditional marriage to individuals and our society prove that the most valuable sexual relationship to any civilization is the union of a man and a woman in the bonds of matrimony. If we allow any other sexual relationship to have the same legal status as the heterosexual relationship in traditional marriage, we will degrade marriage itself (just like we degrade the MVP award by giving it to everyone). If we degrade marriage, heterosexual couples will be less inclined to participate, which will further weaken our civilization.
How Would Homosexual Marriage Hurt Children?
If government endorses the idea that marriage is just a legal contract between consenting adults of any gender, regardless of procreative realities, then marriage will no longer be seen as a prerequisite for bearing and raising children. Marriage will be seen as nothing more than coupling. In fact, that’s exactly how Sullivan sees marriage now. He writes, “Coupling — not procreation — is what civil marriage now is.”19
If Sullivan’s view of marriage prevails — as it will if homosexual marriage is legalized — many more couples in our society will forgo traditional marriage and have more children out of wedlock. That will hurt children because illegitimate parents (there’s no such thing as illegitimate children) often never form a family, and those parents who simply live together break up at a rate two to three times that of married parents. When illegitimacy rises, not only do children suffer, but the rest of us are forced to pay high social costs to deal with the problems that result from it, including increases in the number of neglected and troubled children, as well as in crime, poverty, and social spending.
Are these just the hysterical warnings of an alarmist? No. We can look at the results in Norway, a country that has had homosexual marriage (without legal sanction) for about a decade. In Nordland, the most liberal county of Norway, where they fly gay “rainbow” flags over their churches, out-of-wedlock births have soared. In Nordland, more than 80 percent of women giving birth for the first time do so out of wedlock and nearly 70 percent of all children are born out of wedlock! Across the entire country of Norway, the out-of-wedlock birth rate rose from 39 percent in 1990 to 50 percent in 2000.20
Social anthropologist Stanley Kurtz writes, “When we look at Nordland and Nord-Troendelag — the Vermont and Massachusetts of Norway — we are peering as far as we can into the future of marriage in a world where gay marriage is almost totally accepted. What we see is a place where marriage itself has almost totally disappeared.”21 Homosexual marriage is probably not solely responsible for this growing problem, but it is certainly a contributing factor. “Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage,” says Kurtz, “Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.”22 When the entry standards for marriage are weakened to include same-sex couples, the perception of marriage will also be weakened; marriage and childbearing will just be considered incidental. That’s one reason why the number of illegitimate parents is exploding in Norway and it’s a major reason why we shouldn’t bring homosexual marriage to America.
How Would Homosexual Marriage Hurt You?
Homosexual activists ask, “How would legalizing homosexual marriage hurt you?” It’s not hard to foresee several negative consequences:
· Your income taxes may be increased to make up for the marriage tax benefits given to homosexual couples and to pay for the social costs resulting from the increase in illegitimacy. (We provide financial benefits to married couples because they produce and care for children. Providing financial incentives for homosexual unions would be doubly counterproductive. First, taxpayers would be subsidizing, and thus encouraging, destructive behavior. Second, we would be paying for the results of that behavior in the form of increased medical and social costs.)
· Your social security taxes may be increased (or benefits decreased) in order to pay survivor support benefits to homosexual “widows” and “widowers.”
· Your medical insurance premiums may rise to offset the higher health-care costs associated with homosexual behavior, which will likely become more prevalent. Medical premiums would rise further if insurance companies are mandated to cover fertility treatments for lesbian couples. (There’s sure to be some judge somewhere who would order this.)
· Your employee benefits may be reduced if employers are mandated to spread their limited benefit dollars to homosexual partners. (Limited benefit dollars given to homosexuals must come from somewhere; indeed, they would be taken away from everyone else, including married couples who are raising children.)
· Your ability to adopt children may be hindered if homosexual couples are given legal preference to adopt due to their inability to procreate.
· Your children will be indoctrinated, with or without your consent, to accept homosexual behavior and homosexual marriage as the moral and social equivalent of heterosexual behavior and marriage. (We are already seeing this in our public schools.)
· Your workplace will attempt to indoctrinate you to the same ends, and if you refuse, you will either lose your job or not be considered a “team player.” (This is already happening through “diversity” training in many companies; it will become universal if homosexual marriage becomes law.)
· Your place of worship may lose tax-exempt status if it refuses to hire homosexuals.
· Your free speech rights may be curtailed as any opposition to homosexuality is declared to be illegal “hate speech” (as it is now in Canada).
These short-term negative effects are indeed significant; however, the most dramatic impact will be on future generations, because homosexual marriage will change the way they think about homosexuality and marriage itself.
5. THE LAW SHOULD ENDORSE BEHAVIORS THAT ARE BENEFICIALAND RESTRAIN (OR CERTAINLY NOT ENDORSE) BEHAVIORS THAT ARE DESTRUCTIVE
Some homosexual activists think that the government exists to validate their desires regardless of the consequences such validation would have on others; but that’s not the purpose of government. The purpose of government is to protect its citizens from harm. That’s why good laws endorse behaviors that are beneficial to the public welfare and restrain behaviors that are destructive to it.
I’ve argued that traditional marriage is beneficial while homosexual marriage would be destructive. If you’re still not convinced, consider this: How would it affect society if everyone lived faithfully in a traditional marriage? It would dramatically reduce crime, welfare, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, and child abuse. On the other hand, how would it affect society if everyone lived faithfully in a homosexual marriage? It would bring about the end of society as we know it and the human race itself.
Simply put, homosexuality is not good for individuals or societies. Governments cannot feasibly restrain all destructive behaviors, but they certainly can avoid endorsing them. Our government, at the very least, must avoid endorsing homosexual behavior and homosexual marriage.
6. THEREFORE, THE LAW SHOULD ENDORSE TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE AND IT SHOULD RESTRAIN (OR CERTAINLY NOT ENDORSE) HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE
The conclusion regarding homosexual marriage follows logically from the premises: the law should not endorse homosexual marriage. The same argument applies to the compromise position of “civil unions,” because this would still mean government endorsement of a destructive behavior. Playing word games will not eliminate the negative effects of such endorsement.
PROTECT OUR NATIONAL IMMUNE SYSTEM
How should we respond to the call for homosexual marriage? If we allow our emotional affection for our gay friends and relatives to interfere with sound reasoning, we risk making the same mistake that my friend’s parents made — endorsing behavior that will hurt our loved ones. Such a mistake, however, will not hurt just one person just once; it will hurt entire future generations repeatedly. Legalizing homosexual marriage will teach future generations the false ideas that:
· Homosexual behavior is just as moral and healthy as heterosexual behavior.
· Homosexual marriage is just as moral and beneficial as traditional marriage.
· Mothers and fathers offer nothing uniquely beneficial to the care and development of children (homosexual couples always deny children either their mother or father).
· Marriage is no longer about procreation, just coupling; therefore, if someone wants to have children, there is really no reason for that person to get married.
These are false and dangerous ideas. Those who accept them stand to hurt themselves and others.
We must face the facts of nature: homosexual relationships cannot produce the benefits of heterosexual unions; therefore, our laws should not be changed to pretend otherwise. Laws can neither change the facts of nature and magically transfer the procreative abilities of heterosexual relationships and the benefits of traditional marriage to homosexuals, nor can they erase the serious health problems that result from homosexual behavior. A new law legalizing homosexual marriage would only serve to deceive people into thinking that homosexual marriage and traditional marriage are equally beneficial. Such legally endorsed deception would be a dangerous teacher to new generations.
Only traditional marriage can secure a healthy future for our children and our entire civilization; therefore, it alone deserves privileged legal support. We must not make the mistake my friend’s parents made and risk endorsing behavior that will ultimately hurt those we claim to love. Love requires that we stand firm. The most loving policy for our country is to legally protect traditional marriage — our national immune system — by ensuring that it remains solely the union of one man and one woman.
1. James Dobson, Marriage Under Fire (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2004), 54.
2. Patrick F. Fagan et al., “The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts,” under “The Economic Effects of Marriage,” see “Chart 3: Child Poverty by Birth Status,” The Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/ research/features/marriage/index.cfm.
3. Michael J. McManus, “Why Is It in the Government’s Interest to Save Marriages?” The Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/research/family/WM80.cfm.
4. Fagan, under “The Effects of Marriage on Children,” see “Chart 17: Family Background and Adult Criminality.”
6. Fagan, under “The Effects of Marriage on Welfare,” see “Chart 7: Welfare Dependence on Birth Status.”
7. Robert E. Rector, Patrick F. Fagan, and Kirk A. Johnson, “Marriage: Still the Safest Place for Women and Children,” The Heritage Foundation, www.heritage.org/ research/family/bg1732.cfm.
8. See Frank Turek and Norman L. Geisler, Legislating Morality (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2003), 132; Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 54.
9. Joseph Daniel Unwin, Sex and Culture (London: Oxford University Press, 1934).
10. Andrew Sullivan, “Here Comes the Groom: A Conservative Case for Gay Marriage,” AndrewSullivan.com, http:// www.andrewsullivan.com/homosexuality.php.
11. Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 51.
12. Paul Cameron, William Playfair, and Stephen Wellum, “The Longevity of Homosexuals: Before and After the AIDS Epidemic,” Omega Journal of Death and Dying 29, 3 (1994): 249–72. For corroboration of these results, see Turek and Geisler, 259–60n4.
14. Cameron, Playfair, and Wellum found that homosexuals with a long-term sexual partner died one year earlier than those without.
15. David Dunlap, “In Age of AIDS, Love and Hope Can Lead to Risk,” New York Times, July 27, 1996.
16. Quoted in Warren Throckmorton, “Chris Matthews’ Hard Sell,” Grove City College, http://www.gcc.edu/news/faculty/ editorials/throck_Chris_Matthews_7_15_04.htm.
17. Andrew Sullivan, Virtually Normal (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 202–3.
18. Ibid., 185.
19. Andrew Sullivan, “Correlation, Causes, Links, Whatever,” AndrewSullivan.com, http://www.andrewsullivan.com/ index.php?dish_inc=archives/2004_01_25_dish_archive.html#107526329968381529. Also quoted in Stanley Kurtz, “Slipping toward Scandinavia,” National Review Online, February 2, 2004, http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/ kurtz200402020917.asp.
20. Stanley Kurtz, “The End of Marriage in Scandinavia,” Weekly Standard, February 2, 2004, http://www.weekly standard.com/content/public/articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp.
21. Kurtz, “Slipping toward Scandinavia.”
22. Kurtz, “The End of Marriage in Scandinavia.”