“Mayday” – the official international call of distress. On Oct. 15, an estimated 200,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in response to a call to protect the endangered institution of marriage from what U.S. Ambassador Alan Keyes called “the arrogant elite.”
In addition to Keyes, Christian leaders such as Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Dr. Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church spoke at the rally.
Mayday for Marriage was organized to combat the recent push by gay activists to legalize same-sex marriage in states throughout the nation.
Why should Americans fight to protect the traditional definition of marriage? James Dobson said, “I think that can be summed up into one word: Children.” Dobson noted that almost all respectable sociologists have observed and acknowledged the harm same-sex “marriage” and other alternative arrangements have on children.
Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, echoed Dobson’s concern for the next generation. Recognizing that the vast majority of inmates incarcerated in the nation’s prisons come from disordered homes, Colson insisted that legalizing same-sex marriage would only further undermine the American family. “[Same-sex ‘marriage’] separates parenthood from marriage. It says that it doesn’t matter if you’re married to raise children, but it does matter because those children need a male and a female – a mother and a father.”
Colson warned that if we fail to protect marriage in the United States, the nation could end up like Norway and Holland – where marriage is so diminished that few, regardless of rights, bother to marry anymore. With the well being of children and society as a whole at stake, participants in the rally spoke for the need to define marriage as one man and one woman via an amendment to the Constitution
Both Dobson and Colson made it clear, though, that the rally was not organized in a spirit of hostility. “We’re not here for the purpose of hate. …This is being played in the media as an anti-gay rally – that’s not true. We’re here because we believe in the institution of marriage,” Dobson explained.
Restoring the Culture
Indeed the message was not one of hatred toward a specific group, but a call to renewal and repentance on the part of Christians. Speakers pointed out that it is not simply the recent issue of same-sex marriage that threatens the American family, but the slow separation of sexual pleasure from marriage, and marriage from parenthood, that has occurred over the past few decades. Socially acceptable practices such as divorce, cohabitation, pornography and prioritizing personal happiness above commitment have seeped not only into the secular culture, but also the church.
Leaders emphasized that until Christians reclaim God’s plan for authentic, covenant marriages, the battle for the American family will be lost regardless of any short-term victories.
Addressing the problem of high divorce rates among Christians, Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife said to the crowd, “For the past three decades, adults have assumed that children are resilient. They’ll get over divorce. They’ll bounce back…but children don’t bounce – they shatter – they shatter internally, on the inside where no one sees.” Rainey challenged Christians to erase the “D” word from their marriages, and commit to protecting children with the permanent promise of marriage.
He also issued a challenge to churches to “refuse to host weddings unless a couple agrees to sign a marriage covenant…Churches need to become homebuilders, not just nostalgic places.”
Alan Chambers of Exodus International asked Christians nationwide to repent and recommit. “When the church is not following through with their marriage commitment,” said Chambers, “when we don’t look as different from the world as we should – we need to repent of that…Like Sampson we have compromised our vow of separation. … We need to look different; we need to be like Christ.”
Chambers took the challenge one step further in calling on Christians to help restore sexuality in our culture by committing to bold, Christ-like love toward the homosexual community and repenting of intimidation in fighting the cultural battle for healthy families. “If not us, than who?…If we’re just going to cater to what’s going on, or hold our hands up, or turn around and just shrug our shoulders in defeat – we’re not going to win. But the Church was designed to win. God will win in the end and we, as His people, need to repent of being intimidated.”
Bold Message, Practical Steps
Defending marriage from the danger posed by radical activists will be no easy or short task. And redeeming the subtler, long-term demise of the family certainly cannot happen overnight. But Colson asked Christians not to despair. “This isn’t going to be a one-year, or a two-year, or a three-year fight. It will be fought until we prevail…don’t quit…don’t despair. Despair is a sin because it denies the Sovereignty of God.”
Accompanied with a renewed commitment to restoring holiness in the family, there are some practical steps Christians can take today to begin winning the cultural war. Dobson asked Christians to do two things in the coming weeks leading up to the Presidential election; the first is to vote. “We can’t reach the courts but we can reach the Senate. We can do that in November,” said Dobson.
The second is prayer. “Please get on your knees in prayer…we must bombard heaven asking God to heal our land.”