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

Faith, Freedom and Family: Why Marriage Matters

Jan 20, 2012

The three Fs mentioned in the title actually are of one piece, and when one is tampered with, the other two will feel the effects. To protect one means to protect all three. They stand or fall together, and they must be seen in that light. But all three of these social goods are under serious threat today.

Perhaps the most alarming example of this is the push to destroy marriage in the name of special rights for homosexuals. The push to legalise same-sex marriage is not some minor matter, nor is it, as the activists claim, something that will not impact the rest of us.

Once something as important and historically significant as the institution of marriage is redefined out of existence by the radical social engineers, then everyone will feel the impact, and faith and freedom will also be seriously impacted. Thus it is vital that those concerned about faith, freedom and family unite to stand firm in the defence of marriage.

That is why a brand new document has just been released which deserves our support, and needs to be replicated worldwide. Just one week ago “An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans” was released.

It is called, “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together”. It is signed by 39 major Christian and Jewish leaders in America. These include: Rev. Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God; Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York; Rabbi Abba Cohen; Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod; and Dr. William J. Hamel, President, Evangelical Free Church of America.

So it is a very wide mix of Christian leaders who are greatly concerned that the attack on marriage is really an attack on religious freedom and the wellbeing of the family. It is worth quoting portions of it. It begins this way:

“The promotion and protection of marriage—the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife—is a matter of the common good and serves the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people.  The meaning and value of marriage precedes and transcends any particular society, government, or religious community.  It is a universal good and the foundational institution of all societies.  It is bound up with the nature of the human person as male and female, and with the essential task of bearing and nurturing children.

“As religious leaders across a wide variety of faith communities, we join together to affirm that marriage in its true definition must be protected for its own sake and for the good of society. We also recognize the grave consequences of altering this definition. One of these consequences—the interference with the religious freedom of those who continue to affirm the true definition of ‘marriage’—warrants special attention within our faith communities and throughout society as a whole.  For this reason, we come together with one voice in this letter.”

It continues, “we believe the most urgent peril is this:  forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.  There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.

“These conflicts bear serious consequences.  They will arise in a broad range of legal contexts, because altering the civil definition of “marriage” does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once.  By a single stroke, every law where rights depend on marital status—such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, healthcare, elder care, housing, property, and taxation—will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage.  That requirement, in turn, will apply to religious people and groups in the ordinary course of their many private or public occupations and ministries—including running schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other housing facilities, providing adoption and counseling services, and many others.”

The document provides recent examples of this crack-down on religious freedom, and concludes with these words: “In short, the refusal of these religious organizations to treat a same-sex sexual relationship as if it were a marriage marked them and their members as bigots, subjecting them to the full arsenal of government punishments and pressures reserved for racists.  These punishments will only grow more frequent and more severe if civil ‘marriage’ is redefined in additional jurisdictions.  For then, government will compel special recognition of relationships that we the undersigned religious leaders and the communities of faith that we represent cannot, in conscience, affirm.   Because law and government not only coerce and incentivize but also teach, these sanctions would lend greater moral legitimacy to private efforts to punish those who defend marriage.

“Therefore, we encourage all people of good will to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and to consider carefully the far-reaching consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans if marriage is redefined.  We especially urge those entrusted with the public good to support laws that uphold the time-honored definition of marriage, and so avoid threatening the religious freedom of countless institutions and citizens in this country.  Marriage and religious freedom are both deeply woven into the fabric of this nation.

“May we all work together to strengthen and preserve the unique meaning of marriage and the precious gift of religious freedom.”

This is an important and very necessary document which deserves our support. These leaders realise the very serious repercussions of allowing homosexual activists to crush the vitally important institution of marriage, with the help of the coercive power of the state.

Marriage is far too important to let go without a fight. I am glad these leaders are getting involved and taking a stand. The question is, will we also make a stand before it is too late?

[1008 words]

17 Responses to Faith, Freedom and Family: Why Marriage Matters

  • I doubt whether many Christians and others of high standards realise how sinister is much of the political action around us. We owe it to our fellow man to take a stand and stick to it. We may not be successful (in the short term), but we will be faithful.
    David Morrison

  • What a great statement of faith for these Churches to be making. We really need this type of leadership in Australia – I would certainly be willing to place my signature on such a document. I know that many non Christians are really very concerned about the way this Government is giving in to the so called “Gay” lobby, and are looking for this sort of action from the Churches. Thank you for this post, and God bless!
    Joan Davidson

  • Hi Bill. Another excellent post from you, and also a first rate, and urgently needed Declaration. I agree with both DM and Joan’s posts above, and would only add – we need this kind of leadership also in the UK!
    The Statement is surely right to define something of the implications of this challenge to the unique status of heterosexual marriage:
    ““These conflicts bear serious consequences. They will arise in a broad range of legal contexts, because altering the civil definition of “marriage” does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once.”
    Perhaps a good start for Christians in their respective countries is to call upon Christian church associations, alliance, denominational leaders etc, and especially Evangelicals, to endorse this Document. In doing so it would provide an interesting spectrum as to who will, or will not, support traditional Christian marriage.
    I will make a start by asking our two Archbishops – Canterbury and York, whether they will do so and ‘sign up’.
    This is not an issue we can afford to let up on for a moment Thanks again Bill.
    Graham Wood, UK

  • Good point David Morrison. It’s more important to be faithful than to be successful. If the Catholic Church put as much time, money and effort into opposing SSM as it did into promoting Native Title it could be both faithful and successful. Mt 15:8-9 might have some relevance here.
    B T Walters

  • OK, so where do I sign?

    Lance A Box

  • It seems that in the developed, increasingly secular world, in continents such as Europe, USA, Australia, we are headed towards “State-enforced and State-funded marriage androgyny” in line with the equality and diversity ideology. Marriage of a man and woman which endures for better or worse, richer or poorer, does matter and any children they bear can grow up in the love of their family and the knowledge of who they are and where they came from. That is the blue print and as I see it represents individual freedom. However transgressions such as unreasonable behaviour or totally unacceptable physical violence have conspired to destroy marriages on a massive scale and so the State steps in as a surrogate parent to condone and control the fragmented situation. This does not represent freedom to me but rather points the way to oppressive serfdom, predicted so vividly by Orwell and Huxley. If we are beholden to the State in a secular lifestyle that turns out not to work, what will happen if Islamic sharia law comes into conflict with secularism? I am hopeless at chess but even I see some bad moves ahead.

    The fruit of the Spirit is joy and it is there for people to find.

    Rachel Smith

  • Hi Bill,
    Found this over at the blazing cat website and I think/believe it fits in with this subject, as I beleive this may be one of the arrows in the anti-hetro marriage quiver.

    The gist of it is that pregnancy makes genders unequal and, with science they can simply make a baby factory (literaly artificial wombs on a production line) so that men and women are exactly the same. This new way of making babies with science will be according to her the new normal.

    And this comming from a supposed “bioethicist”, absolutly nothing ethical about anything she has to say.

    Just another attack on the celebration of the beauty of our differences which when combined makes us the image of God, our awe inspiring creator.

    Sorry for putting the link in this post, I just couldn’t find anywhere else to put it to get the info to you.

    Neil Waldron

  • Dear Bill, That document is very important for the U.S.A. I am interested to see who are the people making themselves available for the election of President, that is, a total absence of conservative Catholics. There are people like Senator John Kerry holding office. It seems conservatives in the U.S.A. have to get themselves organised.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  • Thanks Franklin

    Of course Rick Santorum is both conservative and Catholic. He is the best left of those seeking to get the Republican nomination.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • “Because law and government not only coerce and incentivize but also teach, these sanctions would lend greater moral legitimacy to private efforts to punish those who defend marriage.

    These leaders realise the very serious repercussions of allowing homosexual activists to crush the vitally important institution of marriage, with the help of the coercive power of the state.”

    I read these comments and they explain why we need to limit the power of the government especially in the area of values. If values are to forced onto the people by legislation when each government changes we go from one side of the swing to the other. The Bible should be our first and last point of reference for all matters so rather then rely on a favourable government to enact rules we like, minimise their power and take back the role of the church from them.
    Paul Wakeford

  • Bill,

    These days those f-words are quickly becoming more offensive to most than the other one.

    What people need to wake up to is that the push for same-sex marriage is a trojan horse. As discussed, you cannot just grant new ‘rights’ without substantial ripple effects elsewhere. And we are talking about the central social institution of society. To suggest (as many do) that very little will change otherwise is a blatant falsehood. It would be the beginning of the unravelling of society itself. You cannot get more negative than that.

    This is not hyperbole. Decades ago, before we were virtually drowning in political correctness and believing great lies about the human body, a British anthropologist, J.D. Unwin, looked into the connection between attitudes towards sex and how a society progresses as a result. He studied over 80 civilisations (primitive and advanced) over 5000 years of human history. After 7 years of study, this was his part of his conclusion:

    “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and post-nuptial continence”

    In other words, diminish marriage to the point where it is considered unimportant, and you have 75-100 years from that point and then your civilisation is over. Guaranteed. No other factors matter.

    It is difficult to imagine how Unwin may have carried more weight with his conclusion, but perhaps consider this also. Referring to the ability of a nation to remain productive, cultured, improve technologically and maintain a position of influence and leadership among others he said this:
    “expansive energy has never been displayed by a society that inherited a modified monogamy or a form of polygamy . . .”

    Modified monogamy is exactly what the homosexual lobby is asking for (with polygamy already beginning to be pushed for also) and Unwin tells us bluntly that no society in the entire course of human history has survived its introduction as equal to marriage. Why would we succeed where no humans before us have? Would you send your children and grandchildren on a flight of an aircraft type that had crashed on every single previous flight? Because that is effectively what homosexual activists are asking for, even if they are unaware of the ramifications of their campaign and blindly think this is about ‘civil rights’ or other such smokescreens.

    With official affirmation of homosexuality comes the demonisation of great sections of the population merely for affirming the obvious reason for human sexuality and seeing the sensible need to have a legal institution to protect it for the good of everyone and the human generations it produces. Marriage as an institution exists to protect our future. Everybody’s future.

    But instead the extremists don’t care about the consequences, long or short-term. After all, they will be part of the protected class. Criticism of them will be impossible. But for others?

    You can expect:

    – People to be sacked.
    – People to be arrested.
    – People, businesses, charities and churches to be fined.
    – People, businesses, charities and churches to be threatened with violence.
    – People, businesses, charities and churches to be forced to affirm distorted views of human sexuality or shut up or shut down.
    – School children as young as five taught about homosexuality and other non-heterosexual paradigms as if they were the model for the human body.
    …and more of the same.

    Again, none of this is an exaggeration. All of the above has already taken place around the world. Not exactly the model of ‘tolerance’ is it? The lobbyists talk righteously about being ‘second-class’ and ‘victims’ to create sympathy but do you think they may be creating a new second-class category of citizens themselves? Like Margaret Court, for example – where 24 Grand Slams and 62 world titles aren’t enough to prevent you getting struck off the ‘acceptable citizen’ register? Mrs. Court is certainly now a second-class citizen to some and it is manifestly OK to insult her. Apparently the world will be a better place or something with this kind of thinking… But really it is just emotional manipulation. Poor little activists, evil West Australian Christian pastor.

    So when people give you that stupid challenge – “How’s it going to affect you?”, you can quote the list above which mirrors the sentiment in the Open Letter above. There exist many examples of each category in places around the globe where this agenda has gone further. That’s one big disadvantage the gaystapo have – you can see their hateful tactics from places like Massachusetts, California, Scandinavia and others. The spin that they are the victims in this is becoming harder for them to sell.

    But all this comes from people who would still probably never accept blood for a transfusion from someone in a homosexual lifestyle if they had the choice of someone who wasn’t. And I even had one homosexual activist claim to me recently that chromosomes have nothing to do with determining gender! For real. I can’t imagine what kind of darkness these people are walking in. And don’t get me started about the biblically illiterate who facilitate this mess by infecting the Church with hell-inspired drivel. God could not have given you a more direct witness of His will for your sexual life with your body, yet there are Christians who think they know more than God about sexuality. Even if you do not partake of the lifestyle, God views condoning it as serious as the sin itself. (Rom 1:32)

    So this is what is being proposed – punishing people who agree with the straightforward reality about human biology and want to pass that on to the generations to come, and rewarding those who want to live in whatever sexual fantasy they can imagine, irrespective of the high costs to themselves and others. Truly the world has gone barking mad. I hope true lovers of God and freedom will wake up. As the letter above affirms, this is not a game.

    Mark Rabich

  • Thanks Mark

    Yes you are absolutely right. Another telling quote from Unwin of Cambridge University:

    “The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilised unless it has been completely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs. Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy. . . . Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Neil – re men having a womb – I heard this idea spouted by a feminist some three decades ago. I think this is another of those highly speculative ideas/articles that the media is drip feeding us to to fuel the idea that gender is not a stable thing when the bottom line is they are pretty much a fantasy.

    On another track; looking at the price of a promiscuous culture, which is what the homosexual lobby wants – in Africa the price is 5.7 million orphans.

    Closer to home we can witness the sexually free Aboriginal culture which eventuates in one in four Aboriginal people having an STD/STI. The sterility this causes could trend toward a decline in the Aboriginal population. Leftist do gooders in Aboriginal community clinics give teenage girls contraceptive patches so they can be even more promiscuous! A baby born to a fifteen year old Aboriginal girl I know of who does not want it and goes drinking is passed around like ‘pass the parcel’ among white carers and Aboriginal relatives. This is not unusual. Another little boy I met was a petrol sniffer lived in a car with no one looking after him. A babe in arms our school pastor fostered for a while had gonorrhea. This is tragic is it not.

    Anne-Marie Modra

  • But first, my friends, read Bill’s book, Strained Relations, the Challenge of Homosexuality. I was finally able to understand and articulate my position on traditional marriage after reading this book. My husband and I just bought twenty copies to give to important people in the community. It has over 700 footnotes and will give you all the research and ammunition you need to fight this battle. And fight we must. (sorry for the blatant endorsement of this book, Bill, but it’s just too important to not be shameless about its promotion.xx)
    Anna von Marburg

  • Many thanks Anna

    Hey, it sounds good to me. I too think this is a hugely important issue, and with so little truth about this available, it was worth spending 20 years researching and writing this book. For every book like this there would be 50 from the other side, so we are really up against it here. Thanks for spreading the word.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In the SMH 22/1, there is an article ‘Pro-life push in Labor’s ranks’.
    Labor for Life was formed last month to link members with conservative views. It states that the group’s Facebook page lists 29 politicians. The group has links with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and its staunchly anti-abortion boss Joe de Bruyn.
    I guess it is a start.
    With all the broken promises, what are the chances of our PM breaking the one on marriage!
    Madge Fahy

  • Episcopal is conspicuously missing from the Marriage and Religious Freedom Letter – no surprise there.
    So how would this go with big brass of Aussie churches? Anyone tried?
    Tim Lovett

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