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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A review of Outrage. By Peter Sprigg.

Apr 26, 2005

Regnery Publishing, 2004.

It is not often that Australia leads America and the world on certain issues, but this was the case last year. In August 2004 the Federal Parliament voted to enshrine marriage as being between a man and a woman into Federal law. This was to prevent activist judges from imposing same-sex marriage on Australia. It was an historic win and an important strike against the social engineers.

America, unfortunately is still fighting this war. This book is about the ongoing battle over same-sex marriage in the US. The author, who works for the Washington-based Family Research Council, is concerned that the millennia-old understanding of marriage is being wiped away by homosexual activists and liberal judges. He traces the battle for marriage in America, and notes the tactics being used by those who seek to redefine the very nature of marriage.

The outrage is that those who seek to overhaul marriage are making use of activist judges to bypass both the popular will of the people, and the legislative process. Court decisions are going against the majority opinion, and ignoring due legislative channels.

Liberal social activists have consistently failed at the polls to achieve their agendas, and legislative change can be a slow and difficult process. Thus a quick and easy way to implement radical social reform is by means of an activist judiciary.

Activists of course paint a distorted picture of the issue: laws and customs are discriminating against homosexuals, they claim, and they are being denied the right to marry. They argue that conservatives are preventing them from enjoying rights that everyone else enjoys, and that they should stop picking on homosexuals.

But it was the activists who started this war, by demanding something that they never had an entitlement to. The activists are the ones who must prove their case. They are seeking to overturn the accumulated wisdom of centuries by this radical social experiment. Western governments should not have to prove their case. The burden of proof must lie with those radicals who want to redefine the most fundamental of human institutions.

But conservatives have been forced to spring to the defense of marriage because of the judicial activists. Court justices in Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont and Massachusetts all sought to impose their agenda on an unwilling population, as did the US Supreme Court in June of 2003. Thus the 40 or so US states that have now passed Defense of Marriage Acts have done so in response to this direct assault on the institution of marriage.

Sprigg looks at some of the ploys and half-truths used by advocates of same-sex marriage. For example, it is often claimed that this is a human rights issue, and all should have access to this right. But of course many do not have the right to marry: those who are already married, children, close blood relations, etc.

Marriage has only always been about the right of a man and woman to marry. Not two men, or three women, or a group. Indeed, the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are just the sort of arguments one could use to champion group marriage, or incest, or other types of sexual combinations.

Societies have given benefits to heterosexual marriage because heterosexual marriage benefits society. No such argument can be made for same-sex relationships. Societies have no compelling interest in promoting other types of sexual relationships, especially given that marriage contains an important social good: the next generation.

Indeed, heterosexual marriage performs two important social functions: it regulates human sexuality, and it protects children. These are fundamental social goods. Sex outside marriage and promiscuous sex result in a host of problems: illegitimacy, broken families, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, to name but a few. And when children are involved, the costs are even greater. The social science research is overwhelmingly clear: children benefit from having a biological mother and father cemented by marriage, and tend to suffer in other settings.

Marriage, says Sprigg, is the “foundation of the family, and the family is the foundation of our society”. When we mess with marriage, the negative consequences are severe.

But, some will argue, heterosexuals have done a pretty good job of wrecking marriage. Why forbid homosexuals from marriage? Maybe they will do a better job of it. Yes and no. All threats to marriage must be resisted, and that includes heterosexual threats. The fact that some heterosexuals are destroying marriage is no argument to allow others to do the same.

Moreover, with the well-being of children such a primary purpose of marriage, their well-being will be at jeopardy if we further weaken the mother-father-child nexus. As Sprigg notes, the case for same-sex marriage can only be made if we deny the fundamental differences between men and women. Children need both a mother and a father. They do not need two dads or a committee.

Because of this frontal assault on this most vital of institutions, Sprigg suggests that the US needs a Federal Marriage Amendment to once and for all set the definition of marriage as that between a man and a woman. This would prevent activist judges from bypassing the democratic process.

Marriage is too important an institution to allow a handful of activists to pull it down without a fight. The information and evidence needed for this fight are nicely documented in this volume. It deserves a wide reading in the face of the emotive and deceptive charges being made by the marriage deconstructionists.

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5 Responses to A review of Outrage. By Peter Sprigg.

  • I am gay, and I would like to get married. I love my partner very dearly. We’ve been together for 3½ years. The last thing I want to do is “destroy” marriage. How would that benefit anyone?

    John Kloprogge, 22, North Croydon

  • John,
    You say you don’t want to destroy marriage, but the very thing you are suggesting will destroy marriage as we know it. Why should we overhaul the whole institute of marriage for such a miniscule group of people?
    Sharny Annison, Leongatha

  • Sharny
    I don’t see how allowing same sex marriages could, in any way, harm the marriages between men and women. As for why do something for the benefit of ‘a miniscule group of people’? – well, even miniscule groups of people matter to God. His caring love extents to everyone. So why shouldn’t we also care about miniscule groups of people?

    Mark Harvey

  • Thanks Mark

    I have written elsewhere in this site about how the devaluing and redefining of marriage effectively destroys marriage. If you are really interested in the argument, have a read.

    As to the ‘miniscule group’ issue, the point is this: in any given democracy there is always a balance between the rights of the majority and that of the various minorities. Minorities need room to move, but they should not undermine the majority either.

    As to same-sex marriage, there are no compelling reasons why governments should recognize it, and in this case, the majority opinion happens to coincide with the common good. Heterosexual marriage is good for individuals, good for children and good for society. The same cannot be said of homosexual unions, thus governments have no reason to extend special privileges to them.

    All of this of course can be argued on purely secular grounds. But since you dragged in the God question, a quick reply: If you, an anyone else for that matter, do believe in God, well then by definition, God is God and you are not. Thus if you acknowledge the existence of God, you must also recognize his right to call the shots, and recognize your obligation to do things his way, and not make up the rules as you go along.

    Thus if Go makes pronouncements on how we should live, then following his instructions will be for our good and will be in sync with the world he has made. It has nothing to do with God loving everyone. That goes without saying, but it is a love that is on his terms, not some sentimental sap that says he accepts everyone as they are and demands nothing of us.

    The Christian version of events at least says yes, God loves us all, but he loves us so much, that he will not let us go our merry way, do our own thing, and get into strife accordingly. His love is for our good, and he knows what is beneficial for us and what is not. We either abide by his game plan, or we tell him to get lost and do our own thing.

    And since the Judeo-Christian God has clearly stated his intention for human sexuality, you either take it or leave it.

    Thus religious people really do care about homosexuals, more than you imagine. They know that this is not the best for their life, and is in fact a dangerous and high risk lifestyle. Love wills the highest good for another person. The most loving thing you can do to a drug addict is warn him of his destructive ways and help him to get out of that addiction. The same with any destructive sexual addiction. Thus the most loving thing anyone can say to a homosexual is there is help and hope available if they want out of this lifestyle.

    Regards
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks for clarifying my point, Bill. I was not saying that if a homosexual couple get married my own marriage would crumble. I was speaking of the institution of marriage as a whole and the impact of changing its definition. And never did I state that we shouldn’t care for homosexuals or that God didn’t love them. Where did that idea come from?! I just think that changing something as significant as marriage because a few people want to is illogcial and unreasonable.

    Sharny Annison, Leongatha

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