1/17/12

The Only Way to Defend Marriage

Presuppositions Matter
By: Jonathan Harris

Ever heard of or witnessed a debate on television that went something like this?

Liberal: "It's not like we're against traditional marriage. We just want everyone to be free to make their own choices when it comes to who they fall in love with. No one should jam their religion down another person's throat. That's what America is about. The freedom to make personal choices even when others don't agree with it. Separation of church and state ensures this."

Conservative: "Yes, we are about liberty, but that doesn't mean you can change the definition of marriage! Marriage has been around for thousands of years. It's the building block of society. Kids in same-sex households don't do as well in life. A child needs a mother and a father."

Now here's the question, "Who sounds more principled, the liberal or the conservative?" The answer is of course the liberal. They are resting their case on the noble moral principle we as Americans cherish---personal freedom. The conservative is resting his case on complete pragmatism---i.e. kids are usually better off in heterosexual households (who defines “better off” anyway?). This is the reason conservative Christians are losing the marriage debate. We are accepting a Trojan horse into our worldview that completely undercuts our position. And what might this dangerous assumption be you may ask? It’s the idea that the moral principles applying to the church are somehow separate from the moral principles that have jurisdiction over individuals and their governments. What we need to do, when debating this topic, is instead of attacking the negative effects of same-sex marriage, attack the core assumption that tries to make sense of it in the first place. Let me illustrate how a conversation should go.


Liberal: "It's not like we're against traditional marriage. We just want everyone to be free to make their own choices when it comes to who they fall in love with. No one should jam their religion down another person's throat. That's what America is about. The freedom to make personal choices even when others don't agree with it. Separation of church and state ensures this."

Conservative: "While I'm in agreement that personal freedom is an important principle we all cherish, we must also realize that there are reasons and limits to this freedom. For instance, I do not have the personal freedom to physically assault you, and in so doing win this argument. The Founders understood that freedom means responsibility—and it is our individual responsibility to fulfill our roles before God, like pursue a living and think for ourselves, that gave rise to personal liberty in the first place. Those are the things government should not try to take away.”

Liberal: “But who’s to say their opinion is any better or worse than anyone else? We all have different beliefs, and part of living in a society with different religions means being tolerant of other people, even people you personally disagree with. A hundred years ago society didn’t approve of interracial marriages.”

Conservative: “I concur that society cannot be a standard for morality. If it were, Nazi Germany would have been morally appropriate. However, a standard must come from somewhere, and in our country that standard has historically been a Christian value system.”

Liberal: “There you go again getting the church involved in the state! Don’t you know our Constitution says that Congress can’t establish a religion.”

Conservative: “Congress can’t establish an official church denomination on a Federal level, but seven of the thirteen original colonies did have established churches, and those that didn’t, including our national government, had to make their rules based on a moral standard, and it’s abundantly clear from what our Founders said that the Bible was their standard.”

Liberal: “Can’t reason just be our standard? Let’s just make laws that make sense for all Americans, not ones that only apply to Christians.”

Conservative: “God’s standards do apply to all Americans. Every institution of culture is responsible to follow His moral precepts.”

Liberal: “Yeah, but that’s your God!”

Conservative: “Tell me, where do you get your moral standard from if it’s not God?”

Liberal: “I’m just reasonable!”

Conservative: “Reasonable to who?”

Liberal: “Frankly, I’m not sure what this has to do with gays getting married. This is a civil rights issue and you sir are a bigot!”

Conservative: “If God is the source of ethics, then it has everything to do with same-sex marriage. We can’t go redefining things He’s already instituted both for helping man complete his tasks on this earth with the institution of a help-mate He called ‘woman,’ and for the illustration of His love for His church demonstrated in a man’s selfless love of his wife.”

Liberal: “This isn’t Sunday School! It’s America!”

Conservative: “Do the truth’s of Sunday School such as the Ten Commandments not apply to America, and if so why not?”


I could go on with point and counterpoint but you get the picture. Instead of arguing about same-sex marriage, both parties are arguing about the real issue, “Does God’s law apply to individuals?” The answer is of course yet, and in other articles I think I’ve at least tried to demonstrate how any attempt to undermine such a truth will land someone in a heap of confusion. We need not dabble around the edges of the real issue or be afraid of being mocked because we hold God’s Word in high esteem. We need to cherish His Word and defend it! All other ground is sinking sand.
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