Why We Should Not Support Homosexual Marriage
Excerpted from David K. Bernard, The Apostolic Life (Hazelwood, MO; Word Aflame Press, © 2006). Used by permission.) Click here to purchase the entire book or visit www.pentecostalpublishing.com for other resources from Dr. Bernard.
God created one man and one woman to inhabit the Garden of Eden, and He created them as companions who were suitable for each other. We must uphold that ideal for marriage today, but how should we do so in modern society?
Let us briefly consider the biblical teaching on this subject. The Genesis account, as reiterated by Jesus, establishes that God’s plan for marriage is for a man and a woman to form a new, exclusive, permanent, and public partnership for life in which they are joined together physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (See Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:3-4.) God has made it abundantly clear that homosexual activity is sinful and cannot fulfill His intention for marriage. (See Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; I Kings 15:11-12; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; I Timothy 1:10; Jude 7.)
Of course, not everyone accepts biblical morality. We live in a pluralistic society—one in which people have many different religious and moral beliefs. In such a society, the government cannot and should not try to impose morality in people’s private lives.
Nevertheless, it is simply wrong to say that we cannot base our laws upon moral values. We do it all the time. Specifically, when moral wrongs hurt other people, or when moral issues negatively affect society as a whole, we have a right and responsibility to implement moral values.
For instance, most people agree that stealing and killing are wrong. This is a moral position, not a scientific one. For example, the theory of evolution cannot teach us that these practices are wrong. If given the opportunity, one animal will steal food from another animal, kill another animal, and even eat another animal. No one considers these actions to be morally wrong; it is simply the nature of animals to do these things. Moreover, some people believe that stealing and killing are acceptable under certain circumstances. For instance, the followers of Osama bin Laden kill “infidels,” and Marxists such as Lenin, Stalin, and Mao made stealing and killing part of their social order. Regardless of people’s private beliefs, however, the law of the land prohibits these actions, and it does so because of a Judeo-Christian (that is, a biblical) understanding of right and wrong.
As another example, most people seem to think that lying is acceptable under certain circumstances or at least a minor wrong that should not be punished. Nevertheless, when lying hurts other people economically or undermines the social order, we have laws against it. If individuals cheat on their income tax, or if executives lie about the assets of their company, they can go to jail. In short, our society recognizes that the government has the right and responsibility to pass and enforce laws based on moral values.
Some say that sexual morality is completely different, claiming that personal choices in this area do not affect the rest of society. Our pluralistic society has decided not to regulate what two consenting adults do in the privacy of a home, because their action does not seem to affect anyone else directly. Therefore, we no longer have laws against fornication, adultery, or homosexual behavior (even though these actions can drastically affect a family).
Now, however, some homosexuals are asking for a legal right to marry. It is important to recognize that such a change in our laws would affect society significantly.
Recognizing homosexual marriage would mean social endorsement of homosexuality, and that is really what homosexual activists want. They already have the freedom for consenting relationships, but they want the rest of society to state that these relationships are acceptable, that is, morally good. In effect, they are trying to legislate their own version of morality and impose it on the majority who disagree.
They incorrectly claim that opponents are homophobic and that homosexual marriage is a matter of civil rights. This is the language of morality. The choice is not whether to legislate morality or not, because either way a certain version of morality will be enshrined in the law. The real issue is what moral view will prevail. What moral statement will we make as a nation and as a society?
This issue becomes clear when we look at the ultimate source of human rights. The U.S. Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” In the final analysis, any appeal for civil rights is an appeal to an understanding of morality and theology.
The issue of whose morality will become the law of the land is not abstract. Creating something known as homosexual marriage would affect everyone in several significant ways.
First, it would mean social endorsement of homosexuality and in effect would promote this lifestyle. It would send a powerful and negative message to children, youth, people struggling with their identity, and people striving to fulfill God’s plan.
When a sin is generally recognized as sin, some still practice it, but many receive strength to rise above temptation. In our day, many children have been raised in dysfunctional families, and many teenagers have had unfortunate experiences of abuse or manipulation. In a society that actively promotes homosexuality, some of them will experiment with behavior that otherwise they would not have chosen, and some will proceed into a lifestyle that otherwise would not have been an option. The resulting spiritual devastation will be incalculable.
Second, it would create significant legal and financial benefits for homosexual couples, to the detriment of society as a whole. Our legal structure recognizes the uniqueness of marriage in a host of areas, including income taxes, insurance, retirement, death benefits, medical decisions, inheritance, child custody, and other spousal and parental rights. If we recognize homosexual marriage, then we will make a decision to apply these special provisions to homosexual relationships and to spend money to support them. Government agencies, charitable organizations, and private businesses will be forced to extend all marital provisions to homosexual couples.
For millennia, humans have recognized that heterosexual unions are the basis for families and that families are the building blocks of society. This truth is rooted in two biological and social realities. First, it takes a man and a woman to bring children in existence. Second, men and women are physically and mentally different and thus make unique contributions to the nurturing and training of children. They are complementary partners in building marriages, homes, families, and society in a way that two men or two women cannot be.
Consequently, human society has always deemed that the family is uniquely deserving of support in many ways. Strong families based upon the committed marriage of a husband and a wife provide the best means of raising children who are physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy and who become stable, productive citizens. While we offer support to people who find themselves in less than ideal circumstances through death or divorce, we recognize that it is in the best interests of society as a whole to promote strong families based on the union of a man and a woman.
As a practical example, if homosexual marriage becomes legal, then homosexual activists will demand that public schools endorse their moral views in classes, counseling, and public activities. They will insist that the public school system uphold the law by teaching children that homosexual marriage is morally correct.
Already, some high school counselors advocate homosexuality as an option for confused teens and promote acceptance of homosexuality generally. Recently, a high school student in Austin, Texas, was required to review stories of romance for an English class, and he was specifically instructed to include homosexual romance and treat it favorably in his report. If homosexual marriage were to become legal, students and parents would no longer have the right to protest such practices. Christians would no longer have the right to present another view.
Third, biblical marriage would be devalued. More and more, people would cease to regard heterosexual marriage as uniquely deserving of full moral, social, legal, and economic support. We are already seeing this effect in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, which offer legal unions for homosexuals. In these countries, there has been a significant decline in marriage and a significant increase in children being born and raised out of wedlock.
Fourth, homosexual marriage would set a legal precedent for further changes in the definition of marriage. It would assist people who want public, legal endorsement of other moral choices such as polygamy, incest, bestiality, and sex with minors (statutory rape). Groups have already formed to promote such practices, one example being the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Such groups could employ the same legal arguments as homosexuals, asserting rights to privacy, personal choice, and social approval for all sexual practices.
Fifth, we could expect attempts to curtail freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion. The reason is that the conflict is not over private practices but over public endorsement. Therefore, homosexual activists will not be content until they are successful in suppressing opposing views. They will use social ridicule, ostracism, and, if possible, legal persecution to marginalize and silence Christians.
This process has already begun. For example, in Sweden a minister was arrested for preaching against homosexuality. In Canada, someone was fined for placing Scripture references against homosexuality in a newspaper advertisement. There have already been threats that if ministers refuse to endorse homosexual marriage, the government could take away their right to perform legal marriages. In Pennsylvania, people who protested publicly against homosexuality were arrested for hate speech. Fortunately, a judge released them in recognition that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech in precisely these circumstances. However, it is possible that activist judges could reinterpret the provisions of the First Amendment contrary to the intention of the framers, just as they are attempting to redefine the concept of marriage itself contrary to biblical, social, and legal precedent.
As Christians, we must treat all people with dignity and respect, and we should acknowledge that many homosexuals are productive citizens, albeit deceived by sin. At the same time, we must stand for truth. We need to offer the hope of a new life with power to overcome sin and its destructive consequences. We must take a clear stand against fornication, adultery, and homosexuality and a clear stand for biblical marriage. We need to exert a positive moral influence upon our society and make our voice heard with regard to political decisions that affect the moral values of society. Individuals have the right to choose their own lifestyle, but collectively we have the right to choose what moral views our society should endorse. Most of all, we should seek to win the hearts of people one at a time as they respond to the gospel and are changed by the power of God. As the church, we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.