A review of Marriage Under Fire. By James Dobson.

Multnomah Publishers, 2004.

Dr James Dobson is head of the Christian-based Focus on the Family in the USA. It is probably the largest and most influential pro-family organisation in the world. He has fought for faith and family for many decades now, and is the author of many best-selling books on family life.

This book may be his most important however. The forces arrayed against the family in general, and the homosexual assault on marriage in particular, comprise a moral tidal wave overwhelming our societies. This tsunami of anti-marriage and anti-family activism threatens the very heart of Western society, argues Dobson. Indeed, “Western civilization itself appears to hang in the balance,” and we dare not lay down our arms at such a vital juncture in history.

He reminds us of the words of Margaret Thatcher: “now is not the time to go wobbly.” He also reminds us that when Hitler first “annexed” Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s, the response of the rest of Europe was startling: it did nothing. Appeasement, and/or ignoring the threat, seemed to be the basic responses of European nations.

In the face of such a feeble response, Hitler continued his march to dominate all of Europe. It was left to Britain and Churchill to stem the tide. Dobson notes that Churchill called this war the most preventable conflict in history.

The battle to protect marriage is in many ways similar. Burke’s admonition comes to mind here: “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” The church can stand up and be counted, or it can retreat into quietude and indifference. If the church rouses itself to the challenge it faces, it can bring about a mighty victory, as was recently the case here in Australia.

In the US the fight continues, and Dobson urges the faithful to stand up and be counted. He begins his volume by retracing how America came to be in the mess it now finds itself in. He points out that the rot set in during the late 1960s. California became the first state in the world to introduce no-fault divorce laws in 1969, and soon the rest of the West followed suit.

This was part of the 1960s sexual revolution, which also saw the growth and development of cohabitation. Thus the foundations of marriage and family have been softened up for some three decades now. The next crucial blow to marriage came on 26 June 2003, when the US Supreme Court declared that there is a Constitutional right to sodomy. And then in November of that year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court proclaimed the right to same-sex marriage. And on May 17 of 2004 that state began issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals.

Thus a handful of judicial activists have overturned the morals and norms of a nation. The implications of this are worrying indeed. Dobson thus outlines 11 reasons why this battle must be won. The first is the protection of heterosexual marriage and family. Once a nation forgets the reason why marriage and family are important, it will soon recognise and bless all manner of sexual relationships, regardless of how harmful they may be to individuals, to children, and society.

Dobson quotes leftist columnist Michael Kinsley in this regard. He had written an op-ed piece for the Washington Post in July 2003, arguing that we should “abolish marriage” and “get the government out of our bedrooms”. Said Kinsley, the “solution is to end the institution of marriage”. If three people want to get married, “let ‘em” opined Kinsley. He continued, “If marriage were an entirely private affair, all the disputes over gay marriage would become irrelevant”.

But that is just the point. Marriage is not merely a private affair. It is a social institution with very real social ends. That is why societies and governments should be concerned about it and supportive of it.

Another reason why we must win this battle, argues Dobson, is because children will suffer if we do not prevail. He reminds us that there are now over 10,000 studies that show overwhelmingly and conclusively that children do best when raised by a biological mother and father cemented by marriage. If this is the case, we dare not settle for second best. And same-sex marriages will of necessity not involve this ideal family unit.

Another concern is that religious freedom will be greatly jeopardised. Once we legalise same-sex marriage and adoption rights, a host of related legislation will be passed, making it very difficult for anyone, especially religious people, from expressing any moral or social concerns about homosexuality. As a case in point, Canada recently passed Bill C-250, which effectively makes it illegal for anyone to criticise homosexuality.

Dobson also has a chapter on the importance of treating homosexuals with respect and decency, as we resist their destructive social agenda. We must speak the truth in love, as we are enjoined to do in Scripture. The homosexual lobby is very good at intimidating, threatening and vilifying those who oppose their agenda. Yet we must respond in the opposite spirit.

Dobson concludes by arguing for the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would preclude same-sex marriage. This will be a difficult battle, but the recent win in Australia will bolster the troops in the US. Indeed, the battle is too important to ignore: “How can we remain silent when the next generation hangs in the balance?” asks Dobson.

Dobson’s last words may be the most important. He reminds us that ultimately the battle is the Lord’s, and not ours. Yet God works through his people, so both share in the battle.

A helpful appendix on answers to common questions about same-sex marriage rounds off this volume. This relatively brief volume (120 pages) is written for a general audience, with documentation relegated to footnotes. It is a clarion call for those concerned about faith and family to get involved in what may be the most important battle of this century. Dobson is to be applauded for writing this timely and important book.

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2 Replies to “A review of Marriage Under Fire. By James Dobson.”

  1. I am a young gay man in a committed relationship with my partner of 3½ years.

    You say it is gay people who are “very good at intimidating, threatening and vilifying those who oppose their agenda”.

    And yet in this article you call me “anti-marriage”, “anti-family” and a “threat” to children. Is that not vilification?

    I am none of these things. I just want to live my life here in the outer-suburbs, without condemnation from other people. Hopefully one day we can celebrate our love with marriage.

    John Kloprogge, North Croyden

  2. John,
    The fact is that people are so scared of being labelled ‘homophobic’ that they feel unable to have an opinion. You could say whatever you wanted about the church or Christians and no-one would bat an eyelid. Any comment made in the other direction would be pounced upon in a flash. This is intimidation and vilification. How can this continue in a country that boasts freedom of speech and ideas.
    Sharny Annison, Leongatha

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