Many times I have found that the main objection to being an advocate for traditional man/woman marriage from some gay marriage advocates is that we Christians are imposing standards on a culture that does not recognize Christian Moral Authority. I think it’s a fair objection. How can we expect others to live up to Christian ideals when we ourselves fail to?
Let’s be clear. Christianity is demanding and I absolutely do not live up to the commands that God has issued for His followers. I can take some, even many, thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. But can I take every thought captive? Nope. I can, and do, give God a percentage of my money. But, am I willing to give Him anything that He asks for and do it cheerfully? Hard pressed. I am very good at loving those who love me. I am especially good at loving people when I think it will benefit me. Loving those who will never give me anything in return? Challenging at best. I respect my husband in word and thought… most of the time. When I obey the command to bless those who curse me it’s only after I have spent a couple hours feeling angry and defensive. As I said, Christianity is demanding.
It’s unrealistic and naive to believe that law can affect internal change in people. Most people follow the law because it is simply prudent to, say, wear your seatbelt or not commit murder. When it comes to marriage I am in no way attempting to “legislate morality.” Morality has not and never will come from laws imposed by man on men. That didn’t work for the nation of Israel and it will not work now. What law does is establish a standard or ideal. This was the purpose of the Old Testament law. It gave Israel a level set- a sure measurement- that identified the right relationship with God and neighbors. Israel often did not live up to this ideal. But, because of the Law, they knew when they deviated and knew how to return to the true standard.
That is still the fundamental function of law today. Whether it applies to seatbelts or murder, laws define standards and idealize what, to co-exist in society, we should be striving for. When I advocate for traditional man/woman marriage, it is because there is an ideal- a standard- that has proven to benefit children. I do not do marriage perfectly. Nor am I the perfect parent. But that doesn’t mean that I throw out a standard because it reveals my shortcomings.
Consider the same philosophy regarding food. Sadly, people have tampered with our food- from amending it with all sorts of chemicals to altering the genetic structure of it. We seemingly can’t prohibit people from messing with food nor consuming the biologically altered products. However, I recently signed a petition to get a measure on the ballot that would force the food industry to label genetically modified foods. There is a social benefit to calling real food, “food.” We cannot by force of law make people eat well. What we can do is provide clarity, to set a standard, of what real food is.
We do not live in a theocracy. Regarding marriage, I am not advocating for outlawing alternative families or homosexuality. But, if in a democracy we can establish ideals for foods, professional licenses, traffic safety, broadcaster communication, etc., we surely can legally recognize the ideal environment for the rearing of children- truly the most fundamental social building block.
I do not expect those outside of the Body of Christ to live up to Christian standards of behavior. I myself cannot accomplish this- and I have the Spirit of Christ in me. This is not about my religion. I support man/woman marriage because the dual gender requirement, fundamental to how marriage has been understood across cultures and centuries, is the ideal for children, parents, and society. Courts, governments and schools need this standard as they grapple with an explosion of children born outside of an in-tact biological family and in a culture that is increasingly hostile towards marriage and casual with regard to child-rearing.
For more on why children need both and mother and a father, see the five-part post “You’re only against gay marriage because of your religion.”