Same-Sex Marriage: Real Issues/Right Answers raises some pretty tough questions, but also gives some even tougher answers.
This book is not an exhaustive review of the same-sex marriage debate. Neither is it one that bashes people, no matter what their sexual orientations or views. Instead, this book is written to help clarify the issue of same-sex marriage and to compare it to what God says.
Societal tolerance doesn’t matter. Media doesn’t matter. Popular opinion doesn’t matter. God’s Word alone matters.
John Nathan and his partner, Craig, were familiar faces in the Oakmont Community Church. They attended services together and were regulars in the adult Sunday school class. When they had been together about two years, they decided to “formalize” their relationship, and set a meeting with their pastor. When the three of them sat down to discuss the matter, John and Craig asked if their pastor could perform a “commitment ceremony” complete with rings, flowers and cake in front of their families and friends. They felt comfortable asking because they were obviously accepted members of the congregation. They were shocked when the pastor, flustered and apologetic, informed them that he couldn’t perform such a ceremony and put the church’s blessing on a “commitment” between two men. John and Craig were aghast. They argued, “Are you saying that homosexuals can’t marry?!?” The pastor replied, “Homosexuals CAN marry. No one said homosexuals can’t marry. You just can’t marry each other.”
He made sure that John and Craig knew that it wasn’t personal; he directed them to Scripture. God is clear and eloquent on the sanctity of marriage. And nowhere does He expand His definition to include partners of the same sex.
But we acknowledge that taking a hard stand as the pastor did, defending the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, can be problematic. To categorically condemn same-sex marriage seems unloving and without compassion for fellow humans who are asking our blessing on their committed relationships, particularly in a tolerant world where we are taught to benevolently “mind our own business.”
And even if we are strong in our convictions to condemn the concept of same-sex marriage, we will be challenged to explain and defend the stand we take.
Your Bible will give you the tools. This book will help you understand all the issues from both sides.
First we’ll examine the issues from a secular point of view. We’ll tell you what’s happened, what the advocates of same-sex marriage want and why they want it, and then we’ll tell you the truth about marriage. We’ll help you fortify your conviction that same-sex marriage is wrong in the eyes of God.
And we’ll help you articulate advocacy for heterosexual marriage, so that you can help other people know where to draw the line.
Let’s establish a ground rule before we begin exploring the controversial issues of same-sex marriage. You’ll find the truth in the Bible. The ONLY
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). There is only one place where absolute truth can be found, and that’s in the Word of God.
The Bible is a unique collection of 66 books written by more than 40 different authors over a span of 1,400-1,800 years. Each author wrote under the inspiration of God and expressed what God wanted to say both then and now. This interaction between God and the authors assures us that God’s truth flows continually from the first book, Genesis, through the last book, Revelation.
Furthermore, because the Bible covers such a long period of history, verifiable historical data substantiates what the Bible declares. The Bible is absolute truth. Absolute truth is true for everyone, in every situation, all of the time. In the case of the Bible, this truth also is eternal. Forever.
Accepting the Bible as absolute truth strikes at the heart of relative truth and situational ethics, wherein something is true for some people some of the time. In order to fully accept same-sex marriage, it’s necessary to reject the Bible and its absolute truth regarding the union between man and woman. Only then can one acknowledge that there are “rules,” but they don’t apply to everyone.
The Bible doesn’t come with a disclaimer. It doesn’t say, “Here is the Word of God. Pick and choose, and feel free to use your judgment. If you don’t like what God has to say, make up your own rules and get happy all by yourself.”The Bible is absolute truth. The Word of God is clear. Marriage is between one man and one woman. In fact, this truth is so important that the Bible starts with that lesson in Genesis.
But somehow, humankind has become derailed. With support from an evolving culture of tolerance, we’ve begun to see the Bible as relative truth. And in freely interpreting the Word of God to suit our culture, we’ve allowed the idea of same-sex marriage. Let’s take a look at what has happened, why we’ve allowed it, and what God really has to say on the matter.
In July, 2001, under the governorship of Howard Dean, the state of Vermont approved landmark legislation that recognized “civil unions” between same-sex partners, granting them virtually all the benefits, protections and responsibilities that heterosexual marriage partners enjoy. The Vermont legislature chose to preserve “marriage” as the recognized union between one man and one woman, but created a special, parallel union for same-sex couples that would go beyond the existing laws for “domestic partnership” and “reciprocal beneficiaries” of California, Hawaii, other states, and Canada.
To fully understand the push toward “civil union,” it’s necessary to imagine a relationship in which the partners have no rights or responsibilities toward each other. In telling you this story, the intention is to make clear the rationale with which the laws that protect marriage between man and woman were successfully challenged by gays.
The “civil union” came too late for long-term partners and Vermont residents Mark Rogers and Evan Powell. They were in a car accident while on vacation in Colorado. Mark was seriously injured and on life support. Evan, his “mate” for over ten years, was not able to make decisions for him. In fact, he was not even allowed into the intensive care unit. Frantic for assistance, Evan got in touch with Mark’s family in New Mexico. Mark’s parents had long ago disowned their gay son and cursed his lover, so they refused to intervene or give Evan permission to act on Mark’s behalf. In fact, they told him that they would rather see their son dead than to allow Evan to have any authority in his life. The law protected their rights as parents, but didn’t acknowledge the relationship between the two men at all. It didn’t seem at all right to Evan. Had the “civil union” been in place before the accident, Evan might have been able to help his partner.
It’s important to note that although the legislative challenge to the definition of “union” was predicated on the identical qualities of love and commitment in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships, the legal and financial aspects of marriage were really at stake. There are distinctive benefits to being married, and homosexual couples wanted to benefit from legal recognition of their relationships.
Same-sex couples in Vermont can now go through a civil union ceremony and benefit from 24 kinds of law that are the same for heterosexual spouses, such as:
• Automatically inherit property if one partner dies without a will.
• Receive preference for becoming a guardian for an incapacitated partner
• Have spousal rights in making medical decisions, hospital visitation, notification, terminal care documents, and durable powers of attorney.
• Own property in tenancy.
• Transfer property between partners without transfer taxes.
• Apply the laws of domestic relations, including child custody and support, and alimony.
• Sue for wrongful death, emotional distress and other kinds of injury cases if one partner is killed or injured.
• Qualify for family leave benefits.
• Enjoy immunity from compelled testimony and the marital communication privilege.
• Enjoy family landowner rights for hunting and fishing.
• Qualify for dependent insurance coverage.
• The rights in regard to children born to one of the parties will be the same as heterosexual married couples.
(The civil union statutes do not apply to federal law: Social Security, immigration privileges, and marriage exemption to federal estate taxes.)
When Vermont legalized civil union between samesex partners, other state governments tried to make sense of the implications. One of the freedoms that Americans enjoy is the legal assurance that marriage and “civil union”) in one state is recognized in all states. But in the case of Vermont’s civil union, this simply wasn’t going to be true. The problem is that many states have legislation that specifically prohibits same-sex unions. The American Civil Liberties Union went into high gear. There was a legal ripple throughout the country.
On November 18, 2003, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts officially recognized same-sex MARRIAGE.
In doing so, Massachusetts did what has been described as handing the U.S. Supreme Court a constitutional “hand grenade with the pin pulled.” It’s anyone’s guess where the law will explode into a billion pieces.
“We begin by considering the nature of civil marriage itself. Simply put, the government creates since pre-Colonial days has been, precisely what its name implies: a wholly secular institution. In a real sense, there are three partners to every civil marriage: two willing spouses and an approving State.”
Samuel Johnson said it best when he asserted that marriage involves a third party beyond the man and woman: “Society and if it be considered as a vow—God.”
Justices Sosman, Cordy, and Spina criticized the majority as having ignored the fact that “[t]he institution of marriage provides the important legal and normative link between heterosexual intercourse and procreation on the one hand and family responsibilities on the other.” Justice Sosman wrote, “Short of these emotion-laden invocations [of prejudice, autonomy and dignity], the [majority] opinion ultimate opines that the Legislature is acting irrationally when it grants benefits to a proven successful family structure while denying the same benefits to a recent, perhaps promising, but essentially untested alternative family structure.”
Sosman wrote, “As a matter of social history, today’s opinion may represent a giant turning point that many will hail as a tremendous step toward a more just society. As a matter of constitutional jurisprudence, however, the case stands as an aberration. To reach the result it does, the court has tortured the rational basis test beyond recognition. I fully appreciate the strength of the temptation to find this particular law unconstitutional – there is much to be said for the argument that excluding gay and lesbian couples from the benefits of civil marriage is cruelly unfair and hopelessly outdated; the inability to marry has a profound impact on the personal lives of committed gay and lesbian couples (and their children) to whom we are personally close. . . Once this particular ‘storm’ clears, we will return to the rational basis test as it has always been understood and applied. Applying that deferential test in the manner it is customarily applied, the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from the institution of civil marriage passes constitutional muster. I respectfully dissent.”
Ironically, in spite of a few legal victories, most people do not support same-sex marriage. A report in 2002 revealed that by a 2 to 1 margin (62% to 26%), American adults agree that marriage is the union between one man and one woman, but that’s changing. In August 2003, several significant polls revealed a measurable shift in public opinion regarding homosexuality and same-sex unions. The statistics that reveal ambivalence or approval are creeping up slowly and surely.
Opinion might make homosexual couples more comfortable, but is has little to do with truth. Popular opinion has never swayed God . . . and never will.
God, not people, established marriage.
Therefore, it’s up to us as God’s creatures to adhere to God’s plan.