Don’t Mess with Marriage

Image by Maximilian Weber from Pixabay

From the pastoral letter of the bishops of Australia: “Don’t Mess with Marriage”

Beyond the effects on spouses and on children, redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will have far-reaching consequences for all of us. The world around us influences the communities in which we live. Cultural and legal norms shape our idea of what the world is like, what’s valuable, and what are appropriate standards of conduct. This, in turn, shapes individual choices. That’s one of the main purposes of marriage law: to enable and encourage individuals to form and keep commitments of a certain kind.

But if the civil definition of marriage were changed to include ‘same-sex marriage,’ then our law and culture would teach that marriage is merely about the emotional union of any two (or more?) people. All marriages would come to be defined by the intensity of emotion rather than a union founded on sexual complementarity and potential fertility. Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, will be seen to be wholly interchangeable social constructs, as gender would no longer matter. And people who adhere to the perennial and natural definition of marriage will be characterized as old-fashioned, even bigots, who must answer to social disapproval and the law. Even if certain exemptions were allowed at first for ministers of religion and places of worship, freedom of conscience, belief, and worship will be curtailed in important ways.

Consequences of Redefining Marriage

Here are a few real-life examples that have occurred recently:

  • The City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, ordered Christian ministers to perform same-sex weddings under the threat of 180 days’ imprisonment for each day the ceremony is not performed and fines of $1000 per day. Some British MPs have threatened to remove the marriage licenses from clergy who fail to conduct ‘same-sex marriages.’
  • Clergy in Holland, France, Spain, the US, and Australia have been threatened with prosecution for ‘hate speech’ for upholding their faith tradition’s position on marriage. The City of Houston, Texas, has even subpoenaed pastors, compelling them to submit sermons to legal scrutiny when discussing sexuality.
  • In Colorado and Oregon, courts have fined bakers who refused on religious or conscientious grounds to bake wedding cakes for ‘same-sex weddings.’ In New Mexico, a wedding photographer was fined for refusing to provide photography for such a ceremony, and in Illinois, accommodation providers have been sued for not offering honeymoon packages after ‘same-sex weddings.’
  • Yeshiva University in New York City was prosecuted for not providing accommodation to ‘same-sex married couples,’ and other Catholic university colleges have been threatened with similar actions.
  • Catholic adoption agencies in Britain and some American states have been forced to close for not placing children with same-sex couples. For example, Evangelical Child Family Services in Illinois (US) was shut down for its refusal to do so.
  • Catholic organizations in some American states have been forced to extend spousal employment benefits to same-sex partners.
  • In New Jersey, an online dating service was sued for failing to provide services to same-sex couples, and a doctor in San Diego County was prosecuted after refusing personally to participate in the reproduction of a fatherless child through artificial insemination.
  • Parents in Canada and several European countries have been required to leave their children in sex-education classes that teach the goodness of homosexual activity and its equality with heterosexual marital activity. For example, David and Tanya Parker objected to their kindergarten son being taught about same-sex marriage after it was legalized by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, leading to David being handcuffed and arrested for trying to pull his son out of class for that lesson. They were told they had no right to do so.
  • The Law Society in England revoked permission for a group called ‘Christian Concern’ to use its premises because the group supported traditional marriage, which the Law Society said was contrary to its ‘diversity policy.’
  • In the US, Canada, and Denmark, pastors or religious organizations have been forced to allow same-sex marriages in their churches or halls. Ocean Grove Methodist Camp in New Jersey (US) had part of its tax-exempt status rescinded because they do not allow same-sex civil union ceremonies on their grounds.
  • British MPs have threatened to stop churches from holding weddings if they do not agree to conduct same-sex ones.
  • The Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam and a Bishop in Spain have been threatened with prosecution for ‘hate speech’ merely for restating the position of their religious traditions.
  • The Deputy Chief Psychiatrist of the state of Victoria was pressured to resign his position on the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after joining 150 doctors who told a Senate inquiry that children do better with a mom and dad. In several US states and in England, psychologists have also lost positions for stating that they favor traditional marriage or families based thereon.
  • Having allowed ‘same-sex marriages’, polygamous marriages have been permitted in Brazil, and pressure for their legalization is strong in Canada and elsewhere.
  • Businessmen, athletes, commentators, teachers, doctors and nurses, religious leaders, and others in several countries who have spoken in support of traditional marriage have been vilified in the media, denied employment or business contracts, and threatened with prosecution.
  • Thus, a view of marriage – as between a man and a woman – which was previously common to believers and non-believers alike, across a whole variety of cultures and times, is increasingly becoming a truth that cannot be spoken. Redefining marriage has consequences for everyone.

The gratitude of the Christians of Aleppo fled to Lebanon.

Changing understandings of marriage (Anthony Fisher)