Purposes of Marriage: Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Strikes Out
We stand as a culture at a critical point in our understanding and definition of marriage. With out-of-control tyrants wearing black robes substituting their fevered imaginations for the express will of the people in state after state, our nation is being engulfed with a tsunami of wrong-headed and societally fatal decisions regarding marriage.
We cannot even begin to evaluate the public policy implications of same-sex “marriage” until we first understand the purpose and design of marriage as an institution.
As I have written before, according to the laws of nature and nature’s God, there are three purposes for marriage: companionship, sex and procreation.
Same-sex “marriage” does not, indeed cannot, fulfill even a single one of these three purposes.
When God created Adam, according to Genesis 2:18, he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” That would be Eve, someone who completed him and complemented him and met his need for a companion, someone to relieve his loneliness and be his mate for life.
So marriage is not first of all about sex or children, it is about God’s design for male and female to be in paired married relationships where they may know the joys of intimate relationship. Husband and wives are friends first, lovers second and parents third.
As the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, abundant social research confirms the wisdom of God’s design. Study after study verifies that heterosexual married couples are happier and healthier, are more prosperous, and enjoy longer and more stable lives than their cohabiting or homosexual counterparts
In contrast, same-sex partnerships – which superficially would seem to offer at least the first benefit of marriage – are notoriously unstable, short-lived and risky. Even “monogamous” same-sex couples in one Dutch study reported that they have an average of eight outside sexual partners a year. An extensive study reported by Bell and Weinberg revealed that an astonishing 43% of self-identified white homosexuals reported having 500 or more sexual partners in a lifetime.
According to Charles Cooke, writing at National Review Online, same-sex male “marriages” in Norway are 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages, and lesbian “marriages” are a stratospheric 167 percent more likely to be dissolved than heterosexual unions. In addition, rates of domestic abuse in same-sex partnerships are anywhere from two to four times more frequent than in heterosexual marriages.
In other words, same-sex “marriage” fails to satisfy even the companionship purpose for this most sacred of relationships.
The second purpose for marriage is sex. “The two,” God said, “shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Sex is God’s idea. He invented it. He likes it. He created it for our enjoyment and pleasure as well as for procreation. It is perhaps the most powerful (and therefore most dangerous) drive we experience.
Because of its power, members of a society need to know that there is a place where sexual expression is legitimate and will be endorsed by the rest of society. That place is marriage.
Our sexual energy is designed to be channeled exclusively into the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. Harnessed and directed into the companionship that only a husband and a wife may enjoy, it becomes a powerful source not only of life but of connectedness, bonding and intimacy.
Because of the power of the sexual urge, it is a legitimate matter of public policy concern to identify marriage as the sole legitimate, societally endorsed setting for sexual expression. The only sexual expression that should be endorsed, promoted, subsidized, sanctioned and protected in law is sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife.
Our citizens get this, whether they realize it or not. There is no scandal attached to the news that a husband is sleeping with his wife. Everyone – everyone – understands that this is right and proper and something of which society ought to approve.
Scandal only attaches to sexual liaisons outside the marriage relationship, which means that the laws of nature and nature’s God are more deeply embedded in the American psyche than we think.
From the standpoint of public policy, our direction here is quite clear. No sexual activity outside marriage – whether adultery, sexual immorality, polygamy, incest, homosexuality, bestiality or pedophilia – should ever get a sane society’s stamp of approval.
The only incentives a rational culture ought to offer, when it comes to sexuality, are incentives for men to marry women and to stay married once they do. Thus tax and domestic policy should be directed at strengthening the institution of marriage by rewarding married couples with protections and privileges that are not awarded to any other kind of coupling.
Human nature dictates that we will always get more of what we subsidize. If we want more sex outside marriage, then let’s subsidize condom giveaways, force taxpayers to fund treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, and compel colleges to provide birth control at their own expense.
If we want more out of wedlock babies, let’s subsidize illegitimacy by offering financial incentives to a woman to have children without the presence of a father. Let’s offer her a raise in pay every time she brings another fatherless child into the world.
If we want fewer STDs, fewer illegitimate babies, and fewer cases of AIDS, let’s stop rewarding the behavior that leads to these outcomes. If people are intent in engaging in these risky behaviors, a healthy society expects them to shoulder the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of such behavior.
While on a sadly superficial level, it may seem that homosexual couples may be able to fulfill the sexual purpose for marriage, the kind of sex in which they engage is inherently dangerous to human health and contrary to nature. The human body was not designed by the Creator – nor by evolution, if that’s your view – for the kinds of uses to which it is put in homosexual encounters.
It is no wonder that there are a host of pathologies associated with homosexual sex, not the least of which is a frightening cluster of sexually transmitted diseases as well as AIDS, which is lethal enough to shorten the lifespan of an active homosexual by up to 20 years. According to the CDC, 60-70% of all males who have ever been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS contracted it through having sex with other males (another 20%-30% got it through injection drug abuse). This is not the kind of behavior that any right-thinking culture should endorse, normalize or legitimize.
Finally, the third purpose of marriage is procreation. “Be fruitful,” God says, “and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The final purpose of marriage is for a man and woman to conceive children through sexual intimacy, bring these children into the world, and together raise them to adulthood.
We know as a matter of Scripture, common sense, research and human history that the optimal nurturing environment for children is in a home where they are raised by their biological parents who are married to each other. Even secular researchers confirm that moms and dads each have something profoundly unique to invest in the lives of their children. There are not simply interchangeable or replaceable parts. Children need both a mom and a dad, not two of one or two of the other.
After all, God commanded us, “Honor your father and your mother,” not your “two dads” or “Heather’s two mommies.”
Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas-Austin conducted the most extensive longitudinal study ever done of adults who had been raised in same-sex parenting environments. His research revealed that children who grew up in such settings fared worse on 77 out of 80 possible outcomes compared to children raised in intact biological homes. An alarming 23% of children in same-sex environments experienced unwanted sexual touching as a child, compared to two percent of children raised in heterosexual households.
Neither two dads nor two moms can provide what a mother and a father together can provide. Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic union that should be recognized in our legal system, and adoption should be reserved exclusively for legally married couples.
Homosexual couples obviously cannot conceive. It is a biological impossibility. Thus they are incapable of fulfilling the last of the three fundamental purposes of marriage.
No caring, compassionate society would deliberately place vulnerable young children into a home with a missing mother or father, but that is exactly what every gay adoption does. This is harmful, even cruel, to children who are only candidates for adoption because they have already experienced some profound dislocation in their family of origin. A caring society will see to it that as far as is humanly possible adoptive children are placed in optimal nurturing environments. That’s with a mom and a dad who are married to each other.
Because sex is for pleasure as well as for procreation, marriage is still the only legitimate place for sexual expression even among couples who are infertile or past the age at which they can conceive.
Bottom line: marriage is about companionship, sex and children. Gay “marriage” cannot legitimately fulfill even one of these three purposes. Society is absolutely right and absolutely rational to sanctify only man-woman relationships with the label as well as the benefits of marriage.
God defined marriage at the dawn of human history and has never changed his mind. Marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. What God has defined, man must not redefine. Let’s pray, work and hope that our culture, including the benighted wizards in black who are wielding their gavels like sledgehammers, will come back to their senses before it’s too late.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)
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