Same sex marriage has been a very topical subject in Scotland over recent weeks, with the launch of a consultation by the Scottish National Party (SNP) — which closes this Friday — on whether marriage in Scotland should be redefined to effectively legalise gay marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships.
The Scottish government has stated that it was its original position that marriage should be redefined, though Nicola Sturgeon — the Health Secretary — has said that religious organisations should not be forced to perform same-sex weddings should they not want to. We’ll see how long that lasts. After all, SNP MSP John Mason — a Christian — sparked a row earlier this year following his support for a parliamentary motion that no religious group should be compelled to approve of or facilitate same-sex unions. According to Nicola Sturgeon, a survey of Scottish Social Attitudes has revealed that over 60% of Scots endorse the proposed change, with 19% dissenting.
The curious thing about this whole controversy is that same sex couples can already enter into a ‘civil partnership’ which effectively offers them all the same legal recognition and rights that marriage does. The only real difference is that the ceremonies are not able to be performed in religious premises. It is also curious that most homosexuals with whom I have spoken concerning this issue have no desire for a religious marriage ceremony. For those reasons, I am inclined to be skeptical that this controversy was ever really about marriage — it’s about legitimisation. It’s about making a declaration — a statement — that homosexual and heterosexual relationships are equally valid.
For the record, it is my position that there is no Biblical warrant or support for homosexual relationships. And while I think that generally Scripture ought not be the dictator of public policy, this case strikes me as different because they are seeking to involve Christian — or otherwise religious — institutions. Christian organisations ought to base their activity on Christian principles. It is thus very relevant what the Christian worldview entails on the matter.
Now, there are various reasons why a revision of the current (traditional) view of marriage, in my opinion, would be overall non-conducive to society’s best interests. For one thing, if the definition of marriage is fundamentally malleable, then are we to expect to hear next from those seeking “equal rights” for polygamous marriage (as is already seen in Canada)? How can you grant legitimacy to one and not the other? After all, they use essentially the same arguments. Indeed, The Guardian recently published an interesting article entitled “Polygamy in Canada: A Case of Double Standards”, observing,
“What the polygamists argued is that this new definition discriminates against them because it continues to insist on monogamy in the same way that the previous definition insisted on both monogamy and heterosexuality. It was a logical argument that was rejected by Bauman who in his judgment gave a spirited defence of the virtues of monogamy as being a fundamental principle of western civilisation.
Bauman said that the preservation of monogamous marriage “represents a pressing and substantial objective for all of the reasons that have seen the ascendance of monogamous marriage as a norm in the west,” and that “the law seeks to advance the institution of monogamous marriage, a fundamental value in western society from the earliest of times.” He also launched an all-out attack on the concept of polygamy, which he said “has been condemned throughout history because of the harms consistently associated with its practice”. “There is no such thing as so-called ‘good polygamy’,” he added.
Now, I agree with Bauman in his defence of the importance of monogamous marriage to society. But I find it difficult to see the logic of defending monogamous marriage as the historic norm in the west when the laws of Canada have already departed from the principle that it is heterosexual, monogamous marriage that is essential to social stability. Put bluntly, if heterosexuality is no longer legally, morally or socially relevant to marriage, why should monogamy continue to be so important?” [emphasis mine]
Furthermore, schools will be expected to promote and endorse same sex marriage as just as legitimate as heterosexual marriage. As Frank Turek has pointed out, in his book Correct, not Politically Correct: How Same Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone, “The law is a great teacher — many people think that whatever is legal is moral and, therefore, should be accepted. We only need to look at two of the most divisive issues in the history of our country — slavery and abortion — to see the power of the law to influence attitudes and behavior.” As Frank Turek discusses here, there is a correlation between legalisation of same-sex-marriage and the number of children born outside of wedlock. He writes,
“We can see the connection between same-sex marriage and illegitimacy in Scandinavian countries. Norway, for example, has had de-facto same-sex marriage since the early nineties. In Nordland, the most liberal county of Norway, where they fly “gay” rainbow flags over their churches, out-of-wedlock births have soared—more than 80 percent of women giving birth for the first time, and nearly 70 percent of all children, are born out of wedlock! Across all of Norway, illegitimacy rose from 39 percent to 50 percent in the first decade of same-sex marriage.
Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz writes, “When we look at Nordland and Nord-Troendelag — the Vermont and Massachusetts of Norway — we are peering as far as we can into the future of marriage in a world where gay marriage is almost totally accepted. What we see is a place where marriage itself has almost totally disappeared.” He asserts that “Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.””
Already, Stonewall’s “Education for All” education pack for teachers promotes the reading of pro-homosexual story books in class and acting out as plays, and even contains explicit recommendations that students should be taught to be resilient to the views and values of their parents.
Men and women are not interchangeable. I believe that each plays an important role in the upbringing and raising of a child. In his book, Frank Turek quotes David Blankenhorn’s The Future of Marriage, in which he writes, “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.” Another important point is that same-sex parents are liable to confuse their child’s sexual/gender identity. As Dr. Michael Brown notes here, it is already official school policy in San Francisco that a boy who identifies as transgender can turn up to school wearing a girl’s dress and utilise the girls’ bathroom and locker room.
Religious liberty is also, it would seem, a target. Take, for example, the relatively recent case of Mr & Mrs Bull. They were fined £3,600 for declining to rent a double room to a gay couple, despite the fact that it had been against their long-term policy statement to allow unmarried couples to share a room.
An organisation called “Scotland for Marriage” recently emerged in an effort to combat the proposed redefinition of marriage in Scotland. You can visit their website to sign the petition or participate in the Scottish consultation (Scots only in both cases). There is also a petition that has been set up on ipetitions, which you can access here (again, Scots only).
Recommended further reading
Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples (Dr. Timothy J. Dailey) – Looks at various relevant studies and concludes that (a) heterosexual marriages last longer as compared to homosexual ones; (b) partners involved in heterosexual relationships are more likely to remain faithful than partners involved in homosexual ones; (c) where gay marriage or civil partnership is legal, the overwhelming majority of homosexuals do not register their union; (d) individuals involved homosexual relationships are at a much higher risk of contracting disease or other health problems than are heterosexual relationships; (e) Intimate partner violence is more frequent in homosexual relationships than in heterosexual ones.
Correct Not Politically Correct: How Same Sex Hurts Everyone (Dr. Frank Turek) — Persuasively argues that same-sex-marriage is not conducive to the best interests of society. This is also the book which recently cost Dr. Frank Turek his employment with Cisco and Bank of America!
Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting (Glenn T. Stanton and Dr. Bill Maier) — Convincingly defends the traditional view of marriage and parenting.
What is Marriage? (Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George & Ryan T. Anderson) — A paper in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (43 pages in length) which builds a powerful secular case against same-sex-marriage based not on religious tradition or ‘holy writ’, but on publically accessible argumentation.
Christianity Today: Same Sex Marriage: A compilation of lots of interesting articles on this subject.