May 21, 2010
Same-sex couples just want the right to be married like everyone else, or so the argument goes. They call it a civil right. You could hardly find a more innocuous argument, perfectly designed to appeal to all of us who believe in equal rights and fair play.
The only problem is that it's not true. A significant percentage of same-sex couples do not want to get married "like everyone else." Many of them want to create a whole new paradigm for marriage that has serious implications for the institution and for the rest of society.
Now, if you think I'm being bigoted about this, then perhaps you haven't checked out the latest scientific research on the subject. A recent three-year study of homosexual couples in San Francisco—where many gay "marriages" have been performed—shows that half of them are in open relationships.
The New York Times wrote in its report on the study, "Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result [of their open relationships], they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage—one that might point the way for the survival of the institution."
At the same time, the Times reported, "few [homosexuals] will speak publicly about it.... They...worried that discussing the subject could undermine the fight for same-sex marriage."
Prominent gay activists—even those who have spoken approvingly of open relationships in the past—are criticizing the Times article and the study itself.
It seems that, even though they might be all in favor of "an evolution in marriage," they're afraid that mainstream America just might not be ready to deal with such a radical evolution.
So when activists argue that what same-sex couples want to do is no one else's business and would affect no one else's marriage, they're being disingenuous at best and outright deceitful at worst.
As Mollie Ziegler Hemingway explains in a new article in Christianity Today, "Consider changes in divorce laws. The spread of no-fault divorce in the 1970s didn't just make it easier for men and women to get out of troubled marriages. It also changed people's ideas about the permanence of the institution and the responsibility parents have to their children."
Hemingway then points out that marriage rates fell and cohabitation rates increased "as men and women lost confidence in the institution."
Hemingway concludes, quite rightly, that "legal changes have consequences."
Part of the reason for that is that at the heart of our marriage laws is our belief about what marriage really is. To legalize same-sex "marriage" is to introduce a whole new set of beliefs about what marriage is and expectations of what it ought to look like—with potentially devastating consequences.
So the next time you hear somebody argue that marriage is just a civil right, and why shouldn't same-sex couples have the same rights we do, point them to this research. And then make the case for what many of them are really about, and that is redefining marriage for everybody.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.