SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND THE STATE

This November 4th, California voters will decide if they approve their state supreme court's decision to overturn California's prohibition of same-sex marriage. Although unhappy about it, some Bible-believing Christians are resigned to the idea that the voters will probably not approve Proposition 8, thereby approving the Supreme Court's decision. They reason that we can still go on defining marriage from a Biblical position in our churches whatever the state may do. Still others believe that the state shouldn't be in the marriage business to begin with and so disagree with both with the Supreme Court's decision and Proposition 8. I feel some sympathy with both of these positions but disagree with them. I believe that it is important that the State retain the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman and confer special benefits upon such unions.

Marriage between a man and a woman has, until recently, been recognized and accorded special status by the state, not because of their feelings of attraction to each other or love for each other but because such unions normally produce children and are part of the optimal conditions for healthy human development. Children naturally desire to be raised by their father and mother, preferably by their biological parents but by a man and a woman in any case. Moreover, male and female parents provide unique and non-overlapping contributions to a child's development. Single parents know how difficult it is to provide both the masculine and feminine aspects of child nurture.

Boys need a father to learn what it means to be a man, to be strong but not a bully, to be daring but not a fool, to learn how to treat women with dignity and respect, to appreciate their beauty without treating them as a mere means to self-gratification. A girl needs a father to gain a sense of self-worth and security, to have a role model for true manhood, both as she observes how he treats her mother and how he treats her. This helps to secure her against the predatory male, the useless user. Boys need a mother to teach them the true value of womanhood and motherhood, to assist them in learning the subtler clues of personal relationships and in acquiring the gentler virtues. Girls also need a mother to teach them what it means to be a woman and how best to live with and relate to a man as a woman. This does not mean that all mothers and fathers do an adequate job of this but they at least have the beginning qualification - their gender.

That some heterosexual marriages do not issue in children, whether by defect (old age, for instance) or a decision not to have children, every heterosexual marriage at least supports the ideal by serving as encouragement for men and women to become married to each other and to stay married. God created men and women as like and yet as different. Their differences are such that they need special help in staying together long enough to rear children and to serve as models for their descendents. Any marriage counselor is well aware of this. They see the same issues time and again, based on inherent male/female differences. These differences are extremely valuable but they do pose problems for long term male/female relationships. God, therefore, created marriage and gave it special status, a Divinely given centripetal force to draw man and woman to each other to counter the centrifugal force of their created and beneficial differences.

The state or human society in general, regardless of the various religious views or affiliations of its citizens, has a profound responsibility to echo and support God's definition and design for marriage. This is because God's design actually does confer worldly benefits upon society. Weakening societal support for the Divine design for marriage has been and continues to be a recipe for disaster. All too many children have been raised without the benefit of a father's or a mother's unique contributions to their social and moral development. Where the traditional family has declined, so have morals in general.

In the end, what the homosexual community wants is not so much the benefits provided under marriage law but societal endorsement of their sexual preference. They want the state to protect them from any occasion that they might have to feel that their unions are not considered the moral equivalent of heterosexual, monogamous marriages. The push for same-sex marriage is just part of an overall effort to make it very difficult for advocates of traditional marriage to express their opinions and act upon them without incurring penalties imposed by the state. The California state education code has already been altered to require that homosexuality, bisexuality and trans-sexuality be endorsed at every level of instruction and that any language or activity that even implies the traditional understanding of marriage and family will be ruled out of bounds and subject to sanctions. Already, organizations (even religious ones) that decline to permit same-sex weddings on their premises are being successfully sued. Churches have to take special precautions to keep them from being exposed to lawsuits. Businesses, such as photographers and caterers are also being successfully sued if they do not provide their services for weddings of same-sex couples.

Despite the rhetoric on the other side, preserving the traditional definition of marriage in our state's constitution will not prevent same-sex couples from committing themselves to each other for life or calling such unions "marriages." It would simply serve to especially support those unions that naturally lead to children and form the best basis for optimal human development. While state support of same-sex marriage is not the worst thing that has happened to marriage in California, it is one last nail in the coffin of a proper role of the state in supporting marriage as it was designed by God and as it most benefits society. Moreover, we must not allow the traditional understanding of marriage to become delegitimized and even penalized by the state. If you are not registered to vote, do so. If you vote, please vote "yes" on Proposition 8. If you disagree with me, God bless you and as far as I'm concerned, we can still be friends!