Redefining Marriage and the Christian Witness

Though it was written before the recent court decisions, Houston Baptist University’s Summer 2013 edition of The City contains a helpful article to aid Christians in the conversation of homosexual marriage. Ryan Anderson writes in “Twelve Theses on Redefining Marriage” that there are “three crucial questions” that must be asked: “What is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what would be the consequences of redefining marriage to exclude sexual complementarity?”

Anderson offers twelve theses that should be considered as Christians seek to engage the public in discussions regarding the recent redefinition of marriage. In short, the redefinition of marriage – which is an overstep by the government into the realm of the religious – has destructive consequences for the family, the nation, and the church.

It destroys the family because, “It rejects the anthropological truth that marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, the social reality that children need a mother and a father.” This will have devastating consequences on the social health of children, who will eventually be adults whose social parameters are skewed or non-existent.

Indeed, the destruction of marriage begins when it is viewed as being “more about adults’ desires than children’s needs.”

This will have a direct effect on the destruction of the second institution, the nation. “Decades of social science, including the latest studies using large samples and robust research methods, show that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and expand welfare programs.” ¬†With increased pressure to provide social aid to those who have been raised in unhealthy environment, the nation will bear the burden to provide corrective measure, or suffer the consequences of their own policies. Neither option is appealing for a democratic society.

Finally, the redefinition of marriage will be devastating to the church due to its being “a direct and demonstrable threat to religious freedom because it marginalizes those who affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman.” The redefinition of marriage is the government stealing a possession from the hands of religion and remanufacturing into an institution with which they are comfortable. In other words, it is the government seizing control of religion. History does not bode well for this arrangement.

Anderson concludes:

Many citizens are increasingly tempted to think that marriage is simply an intense emotional union, whatever sort of interpersonal relationship consenting adults, whether two or 10 in number, want it to be — sexual or platonic, sexually exclusive or open, temporary or permanent. This leaves marriage with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality. It is simply whatever consenting adults want it to be. Yet marriage has no form and serves no social purpose, how will society protect the needs of children — the prime victim of our non-marital sexual culture — without government growing more intrusive and more expensive?

Though Anderson’s arguments are social rather than theological or scriptural (which he never claims) all twelve theses are worthy of a close reading and consideration as Christians are now in need of being able to converse about the consequences of the destruction of the family both present and eternal.