As the Supreme Court considers the merits of adopting or banning same-sex marriage, many politicians are voicing their support for changing the law.
But just as smart shoppers know to look beyond an advertisement to read the fine print, Americans should look beyond the surface issues to the surprising details no one is discussing.
Here is the way same-sex marriage is “advertised” today:
1. Legalizing same-sex marriage will allow gay and lesbian couples to have the same hospital visitation rights, etc. as other married couples.
2. Legalizing same-sex marriage will put an end to discrimination by affording gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
3. Same-sex marriage won’t affect other types of marriages.
What’s the big deal, right?
THE FINE PRINT
Here is the fine print below the advertisement, just a few of the implications of legally redefining marriage.
1. When it comes to the family, there is no qualifiable difference between a mom and a dad.
Supporting same-sex marriage is saying the law of the land should reflect the fact that two dads are just as good for kids as a dad and mom. Gender plays no role in parenting. No civil institution should reinforce the idea that men and women bring different gifts and skills to parenting. No civil institution should uphold the notion that boys and girls benefit from fathers and mothers in different ways.
(Think this is a stretch? Consider the outcry towards outspoken homosexual actor, Rupert Everett, when he publicly agreed with his mother that children need a mom and dad.)
2. Marriage will be based on the intensity of a couple’s emotional bond.
Historically, marriage has been envisioned as a physical and emotional bond designed for procreation and family life. Laws have regulated marriage differently than other friendships and relationships because society has recognized and sought to preserve the notion of an institution that points beyond the partners to the responsibility of raising children.
Supporting same-sex marriage means redefining marriage as something no longer comprehensive (directed toward procreation and family life), but primarily emotional in nature. It’s about the romantic feelings of the partners, not the exclusive fidelity of a man and woman who agree to constitute and nurture a family.
The case can be made that gays and lesbians want permanence as well as emotional union, and the push for same-sex marriage shows they are willing to go to great lengths to manufacture a sort of permanence in order to sustain the emotional bond.
Still, once marriage is totally separated from reproduction, it will likely become as inconsistent as our emotional whims. If marriage is based on something other than complementarity, why should it be exclusive? Why permanent? Why should the government be involved at all?
3. Disagreeing with same-sex marriage is a sign of bigotry and should not be tolerated.
Supporting same-sex marriage is saying the law should enforce a new “norm” on how marriage is defined. The law should lead society to adopt this new norm and question anyone who opposes it.
In light of the new definition of marriage enshrined in law, those who believe marriage is for a man and woman, with an eye toward reproduction and the establishment of family, will be marginalized as intolerant and narrow-minded, subject to the same treatment we reserve for racists and bigots.
(You don’t have to be a prophet to see this on the horizon. Examples: here’s a wedding vendor who closed his business; here are the adoption agencies that have shut down rather than violate religious conscience.)
4. Same-sex marriage will be taught as normal in all public schools. What is legalized is normalized.
Shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, a second-grade teacher read students “King and King” – a story about a prince who chooses another prince for a husband. Concerned parents spoke out. The courts ruled against them. And why not? “Two husbands” is the law of the land there.
Supporting same-sex marriage means doing away with the idea of having a “norm” that leads to social stability. It is not extending marriage to some people; it is changing the definition of marriage for all people.
5. Legalizing same-sex marriage will lead to the legalization of “marriage” in other cases.
If marriage is a contract based primarily on romantic feelings, why should the state discriminate against brothers and sisters who wish to marry? If a bisexual insists on the need for both a male and a female spouse in order to be satisfied, why should the law discriminate in favor of couples instead of threesomes?
(Think this is far-fetched? Brazil already has a case on the books: a civil union for a trio. The notary cited the changing definition of marriage and family as justification. This columnist from the UK agrees. Why resist?)
Those in favor of same-sex marriage say traditional marriage laws are discriminatory. If we apply the same standard across the board, we must admit same-sex marriage is discriminatory too. Any law that regulates marriage establishes limits. Discussing marriage laws should prompt us to ask the question no one is asking: just what is marriage anyway?
Considering the current flow of our society, the legalization of same-sex marriage seems inevitable.
Those of us who continue to advocate for the traditional definition of marriage are painted as mean-spirited and regressive. Still, informed citizens ought to consider the implications of overhauling one definition of marriage and replacing it with another.
Recommended Reading: What Is Marriage? by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert George
Trevin Wax is the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. He blogs daily at Kingdom People. He is also the author of Holy Subversion (Crossway, 2010) and Counterfeit Gospels (Moody, 2011).