Our positions are often clearer than the thinking that supports them. Therefore, I asked my students in our class, Counseling and Law, at Dallas Theological Seminary to clarify and defend their positions. While we found it easy stand in opposition to same-sex marriages in America, we discovered that it was a challenge to argue cogently for our position while giving thoughtful attention to the arguments from the opposing side. We actually divided into sides and had a debate in class, followed by a paper that clarified both sides. David Van Zandt wrote one of the better papers that I think is worthy of your time to read. As usual on my blog, none of the footnotes were picked up.
The current debate in America is whether or not homosexual couples should have the right to marry in order to have the same societal rights as heterosexual couples. While some attempt to shape the debate solely along legislative lines, there is an element of ecclesiastical discourse that must be a part of the argument. Is marriage a right that is granted solely by the state or is it an ordinance of the church that is also sanctioned by the state? Would the granting of homosexual marriage as a right enhance or be a detriment to traditional marriages? What has been the effect to date in the nations that have granted the right of marriage to homosexual couples? In effect, is marriage a right granted by the state or a state of being ordained by God? The purpose of this paper is to argue that marriage is a state of being between one man and one woman ordained by God.
The Beginning of Marriage
In arguing for heterosexual marriage, the question is whether the institution of marriage is first a right that is granted by the state or is it an ordinance of the church, ordained by God and recognized by the state. In other words, who is the granting authority in marriage, God or man? As with many arguments of this type, the place to start is in the beginning.
Genesis chapter two is the story of the first marriage between the first man and the first woman. God saw that among all the animals, there was none that corresponded to Adam. God then caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and removed something (traditionally a rib) from his side, closed the wound and from that created woman. When Adam awoke, God brought the woman to Adam for him to name. Adam said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23) God created man and woman in a unique way, completely different from all other creation which was simply spoken into existence. God formed man from the soil and breathed life into his nostrils, something that is not mentioned about any other living being. God formed woman from the side of man, something that is unique in her, being created from a part of a previous creation. Clearly God had a unique purpose for mankind evident in their creation.
Genesis chapter one gives an explanation of the uniqueness of mankind in the covenant of dominion. God tells man and woman to, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!” (Genesis 1:28b) Clearly, once accepting the premise that this is the first marriage, a part of marriage is procreation. If procreation is a part of marriage, then of necessity, the marriage must be between a man and a woman for this purpose to occur naturally.
The homosexual community counters this argument with the three pronged attack: 1) medical advances have made the sex of the partners irrelevant especially with the addition of surrogate mothers, 2) since homosexual couples cannot procreate naturally, then adoption of children other than babies should be allowed for those homosexual couples in a committed, long-term relationship afforded by marriage, and 3) those who argue so forcefully against homosexual marriage are also the ones who proclaim themselves to be “pro-life”. How then can those opposed to homosexual marriage allow the destruction of “extra” fetuses frozen by couples who are trying invitro fertilization techniques after the birth of the child they want?
In answer to these arguments, those against homosexual marriage have to argue that procreation within the Biblical view of marriage is and should be a natural process that involves partners of the opposite sex within the confines of a marriage relationship. Because of the Fall of Man or Sin, mankind has corrupted the one ordinance created by God in the pristine state of the created world. Because of the intelligence of mankind, we have developed ways of procreation by extraordinary means that were never dreamed of in Biblical times. The answer for barrenness in those times was to appeal to God to open the womb of the woman but to rely on the sovereignty of God not the intelligence of man. In the case of usurping the authority of God, Abraham and Sarah tried to use their own means to fulfill the promise of God by using Hagar as the means of bringing the promised child into the world, but Ishmael was not the fulfilling of the promise to Abraham.
Homosexual Marriages and Adoption
As for adoption of children other than babies, there is no doubt that there is a need for adoptive parents of children who are older than 1 or 2 years old, however, allowing homosexual couples to marry in order to effect the adoption of these children is a specious argument at best. The adoption process is a long and arduous process to begin with and many couples struggle mightily to meet the requirements of the agencies charged with placing these children. If the task of the agencies is to consider what is best for the child, then the agency must look at the stability of the relationship before placing a child. In a study published in 2003 in the journal AIDS, Dr. Maria Xiridou of the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service found that the average length of homosexual unions is a year and a half. In addition to this information, the study found that even within those marital unions, one or both of the partners within the relationship had sexual relations with as many as eight other partners. While the divorce rate among heterosexuals is appallingly high, most marriages (57% on average) between heterosexual couples last at least fifteen years. If providing a stable home environment is the most important determinant in considering where to place an adoptive child, these study statistics need to be taken into consideration.
Homosexual marriage proponents point to a Canadian meta-study that seems to indicate that children raised in a homosexual household are marginally more socialized and better able to deal with peer pressure. However, in looking at the study, many critics have pointed out the highly “selective” nature in which the couples studied within the case studies considered in the meta-study. While not explicitly criticized, the meta-study and the studies contained within it are suspect of bias before the outcome.
As for the consideration of frozen embryos left after a successful invitro birth has occurred, this issue speaks more to abortion and stem cell research rather than the issue of homosexual marriage. The consideration of what to do with these frozen embryos is an ethical dilemma that the pro-life movement has yet to consider and is beyond the scope of this paper, however, the argument for or against the adoption of these embryos should fall along the lines of the argument stated above.
The Effects on Marriage in States where Homosexual Marriage is Allowed
One of the arguments for homosexual marriage is the strengthening of all marriage as a result of allowing homosexuals to marry. In the Netherlands where homosexual marriage has been legalized for over ten years, what has been the effect on traditional marriage?
In the Scandinavian countries where homosexual marriage has been legal since 1983, the results are staggering. William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, in a 2004 article stated that the advent of legalized homosexual marriage had a detrimental effect on traditional marriage as well as the traditional family with in the region. The article states:
“The institution of marriage has just been destroyed,” the pro-family spokesman says. He contends that the existence of homosexual marriage has helped to make marriage “nothing special” in the eyes of postmodern Scandinavian society. And since that European region has long been considered by cultural analysts as a bellwether of family and social change, Murray believes America would do well to look at what homosexual marriage has done to Scandinavia and beware.
For instance, in the 1990s Denmark saw a 25 percent rise in the number of unmarried couples living together and having children. Statistics also indicate that more Danish parents have stopped delaying divorce until their children are grown. And since so many Scandinavians now raise their children outside of marriage, divorce rates alone no longer reliably measure family weakness; researchers must look at “family dissolution” statistics, which, sadly, are less frequently available.
The article goes on to state that 50% of first births are to unwed parents and divorce rates within these countries have skyrocketed to nearly 80%. While not all of the societal ills concerning the dissolution of marriage can be attributed to homosexual marriage legalization, clearly there is some correlation between the two. The most damning statement of the article is the statement of the legalization of homosexual marriage rendering marriages of any type “nothing special”.
Marriage as a Human Right
Finally, proponents of homosexual marriage state that marriage, in the case they are arguing, is a right granted by the state much like the right to vote or civil rights for minorities. While there is an element of truth to that argument, the underlying belief is that religion plays no part in marriage. This further reduces the uniqueness of marriage to that of rights rather than a God ordained privilege.
The proponents of homosexual marriage point to the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1960’s and the Women’s Suffrage Movement of the early 20th Century as evidence of a right being granted to a group of people previously discriminated against because of birth. In other words, women were not allowed to vote because they were born female. Blacks were discriminated against and denied certain rights because they were born with dark skin. So it is that homosexuals claim that they are discriminated against in this area because they were born with a sexual attraction for the same sex rather than the opposite sex.
While it is true that America has discriminated against all manner of people groups because of race, creed, or color, the scientific community has not been able to prove whether homosexuality is an inherent trait or a learned activity. Is sexual attraction a genetic fact or is it a genetic marker that can be ignored, much like someone born with the tendency towards alcoholism who is not an alcoholic. Until there is definitive proof that homosexuality is an inherent trait that cannot be denied much like the tendency toward alcoholism or other detrimental activities, then the granting of rights for less than 3% of the population is a matter of great concern.
Homosexual marriage is a political and religious “hot button” that will continue to be argued throughout the next few years. It seems that the political and in some cases the religious community is erring on the side of expediency rather than rational thought in this argument. For the politician, it is a pandering to a community that is vocal and sometimes monetarily beneficent to the campaigns that support the homosexual agenda. For religious communities, it is a balance between the loving God and the God who is righteous and just. If God is a loving God, then how can he condemn a part of His creation? If He is a righteous God, doesn’t He have the right as sovereign Creator to condemn the acts of man which are against His nature? In this paper, the issue of homosexual marriage has been argued as an affront to the will of God for mankind. Marriage is an ordinance of God, establish before the Fall of Man, as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of procreation. It is first and foremost this ordinance which has been recognized by the governments of man as a benefit to society as a whole. While there are problems within the heterosexual marriage community, it does not mean that homosexual marriages are therefore equal to those of heterosexual marriages. Therefore, it is the opinion of this paper that there should be a nationwide ban on homosexual marriage within the borders of the United States of America and the territories of the United States of America.
Gerard, Gene C. “Dissent Voice.” http://www.dissidentvoice.org/July05/Gerard0714.htm. July 15, 2005. http://www.dissentvoice.org (accessed April 7, 2008).
Kevin Broussara, Joe Varnell. “Harper Shoves Family Study into the Closet: Cons & Christian Extremists Don’t Want You to Know .” http://www.samesexmarriage.ca/advocacy/PDH090507.htm. May 9, 2007. http://www.samesexmarriage.ca (accessed April 7, 2008).
All bible verses from “The Net Bible” http://www.bible.org. 2006. (downloaded October 9, 2007).