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May 17, 2004

Assessing the damage of a cultural earthquake

As Massachusetts plows forward with same-sex marriage (yet another cultural atrocity imposed by judicial fiat), commentators and conservative organizations are weighing in on the significance of the event.

Colleen Carroll Campbell, "No private affair" [excellent article]:

...behind these highly publicized marriages lies a very privatized understanding of marriage. That understanding emerged long before gay activists and activist judges paired up to remake matrimony in their own image. It came to fruition amid the sexual revolution, and manifested itself in rising rates of illegitimacy, divorce, single parenthood, and cohabitation. Today, we are seeing yet another logical consequence of our illogical decision to make marriage a private affair.

Not so long ago -- before the birth-control pill, the sexual revolution, and no-fault divorce -- couples who chose to marry assumed that procreation and lifelong fidelity were part of the deal. Their families, faith communities, and the courts assumed the same. When men and women vowed to love and honor each other for life -- for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health -- they did so publicly, in the context of a culture that expected them to make good on their contract and covenant.

Today, that expectation is gone. Traditional marriage, once generally considered the only socially acceptable way for American men and women to share sexual intimacy and a household, is now just one option among many. Serial marriages, "trial" marriages, intentionally childless marriages, common-law marriages, and same-sex marriages are now regarded by many Americans as equally valid options -- and equally deserving of public support.

Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., "A Defining Moment: Marriage, the Courts, and the Constitution" [excellent article]:

What is happening is no minor adjustment, a slight change in degree that just extends benefits or rights to a larger class, but a substantive change in the essence of the institution. It does not expand marriage; it alters its core meaning, for to redefine marriage so that it is not intrinsically related to the relationship between fathers, mothers, and children formally severs the institution from its nature and purpose.

Expanding marriage supposedly to make it more inclusive, no matter what we call the new arrangement, necessarily ends marriage as we now know it by remaking the institution into something different: a mere contract between any two individuals.

Jeff Jacoby, "The End of the Gay Marriage Debate?":

Those of us who think this week's revolution is a terrible mistake need to do a much better job of explaining that the core question is not "Why shouldn't any couple in love be able to marry?" but something more essential: "What is marriage for?" We need to convey that the fundamental purpose of marriage is to unite men and women so that any children they may create or adopt will have a mom and a dad.

Marriage expresses a public judgment that every child deserves a mom and a dad. Same-sex marriage, by contrast, says that the sexual and emotional desires of adults count for more than the needs of children. Which message do we want the next generation to receive?

Concerned Women for America, press release:

Homosexual activists will be saying over and over this week, "See, 'gay' couples were 'married,' and the sky didn't fall."  But this is deceptive. We know that social change happens over time. It took a generation for inner city families to fall apart after the government began issuing welfare checks to unwed mothers. Likewise, creating counterfeit marriage will damage the real thing and put more children at risk. Only a callous, self-absorbed culture would create legal incentives to engage in immoral, destructive behavior with children as the guinea pigs. America must be better than that.

Chuck Colson, "Follow the Leader?":

What is happening in Massachusetts today threatens to redefine and, ultimately, permanently damage our society's most basic institution. That being so, you would expect a huge public outcry. Unfortunately and surprisingly, that isn't happening. Congress is seeing little evidence of public outrage--not enough calls and letters to force them to act.

It amazes me since it's clear that the impact of same-sex 'marriage' won't be limited to same-sex couples. Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institution has written that widespread acceptance of same-sex 'marriage' will widen the already existing gap between parenthood and marriage and continue to break down the family. Countries, like Norway, that adopted same-sex 'marriage' saw their rates of cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births shoot up. There's no reason to suppose that won't happen here.

Given what's at stake, I believe that Christians need to make stopping the spread of same-sex 'marriage' their number-one cultural priority.

James Dobson, Focus on the Family press release:

We will look back 20, 30, 50 years from now and recall this as the day marriage ceased to have any real meaning in our country. The documents being issued all across Massachusetts may say 'marriage license' at the top, but they are really death certificates for the institution of marriage as it has served society for thousands of years.


(Thanks to The Alliance Alert for the links)

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