Rich Stearns is a servant, a Wharton grad who leapt from the top of corporate America and landed in a stream, knees bent bracing. Arms outstretched, he is a fisher of men, desperate to save the poor, sick and suffering. Stearns’ talent has transformed World Vision into the eighth largest charity in America, with annual revenues of more than $1 billion. Some 40,000 employees are active worldwide doing disaster relief, providing food, and assisting refugees.
According to a 2009 interview, Stearns intends to reduce by half the number of children who die daily from poverty-related causes. If he succeeds (count me among those who believe he will) that number will still be 13,000 dead children daily.
At a recent gathering in Los Angeles, Stearns privileged the work he and others do around poverty issues and criticized Christians who he sees as preoccupied by work focused on the meaning and purpose of marriage. “No one ever died of gay marriage,” he argued.
It is unlikely that “number of deaths prevented” is actually Stearns’ metric for determining the legitimacy of a vocation. Surely he recognizes the mundane contributions of faithful Christians in education, law, engineering, art, and a thousand other fields as legitimate whether or not life hangs in the balance.
No, the comment tells us that Stearns finds marriage a trivial issue. Nero fiddled as Rome burned; meanwhile, Teetsel blogged about same-sex marriage. And so he pleads, “Why don’t you do something that matters?”
Stearns is not alone. As the 29 year-old director of the Manhattan Declaration I am often asked that question. Founded in 2009 by Charles Colson and more than 100 religious leaders from the three historic Christian traditions, the Manhattan Declaration defines life, marriage, and religious liberty as foundational principles necessary for the common good. The Declaration asks Christians to prioritize these concerns and refuse to “render unto Caesar” when the laws of man contradict moral obligations to God. Why be involved in such work?
Life, marriage, and religious liberty are not arbitrary choices; they are inextricable. The ethic of life is premised on the doctrine of Imago Dei, the inherent dignity of every human being as a creature uniquely crafted in the image of God himself. Why do we care about the poor, oppressed, and suffering? Because they are human beings.
Marriage is the beginning of family, the foundation of human society. By design, one invaluable man and one invaluable woman come together and create new lives of inestimable worth. The same biological reality that creates life is mirrored in the anthropological reality that children need a mother and father. Marriage is the social institution that binds woman and man in the kind of permanent, exclusive relationship that nurtures children into adulthood.
Religious liberty allows mothers and fathers to order their lives according to their most deeply held values and beliefs. America’s “first freedom” obliges the state to preserve a vibrant public square in which citizens are free to express themselves and advocate policy according to the demands of their conscience in a democratic process resulting in compromise and accommodation.
Why don’t I do something that matters? The meaning and purpose of marriage is important. The disconnect between sex and its intended purpose has resulted in dire consequences for society, especially its most vulnerable members, children. In the unlikely event the Supreme Court makes same-sex marriage the law of the land this week, I’ll keep working for a culture of marriage and family because it’s too important to be forgotten, no matter what the law says.
According to research by Robert Rector and Pat Fagan of the Heritage Foundation, in America children raised in a home with their biological mother and father are 82 percent less likely to be poor. The U.S. Department of Health finds 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. Seventy-one percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes, according to the National Principals Associations. And the National Fatherhood Initiative finds the absence of a biological father increases by 900 percent a daughter’s vulnerability to rape and sexual abuse.
President Obama understands these facts. In 2008 he argued:
We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.
Some say such statistics are unrelated to the question of same-sex marriage. Any two parents are as good as a biological mother and father, they claim. University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus has conducted the largest study comparing outcomes for adult children of biological two-parent families to those of parents who had been in a same-sex relationship, were divorced, and so on. According to his 2012 New Family Structures Study, there are statistically significant differences on variables for children of a mother or father who had a same-sex relationship—ranging from joblessness to educational attainment to increased rates of depression—when compared to children who lived with their married, biological parents throughout childhood. There were also differences for the adoptees, stepchildren, and the children of single parents. Regnerus’ research incited much debate, and the journal Social Science Research, which published Regnerus’ peer-reviewed article, later published a critical audit of it. Still, Regnerus’ study indicated children have better outcomes in stable homes. Future research is needed, but for now, Regnerus’ work is the gold-standard.
The science may be debatable; what isn’t—at least for Christians—is the importance of sex differences. The first time our Lord declared that something was not good was the lack of a suitable partner for Adam; the remedy was Eve. “Male and Female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). The world may argue that a woman can fulfill the role of father, but Christians must reject such a claim.
Even if there were no harms for children of same-sex couples, Christians would rightly continue to work against sexual brokenness. Homosexuality, like all sexuality outside the bounds outlined in scripture, is harmful to those involved. Sin destroys, so the same compulsion that drives us to save our neighbor from poverty and injustice ought drive us to help them escape sin.
In the fall of 1939 C.S. Lewis gave a sermon titled Learning in War-Time. England had just declared war with Germany. Europe was at war, but Lewis was at Oxford. What explanation could there be for indulging in higher education at such a time? Lewis summarizes the question: “Why should we—indeed how can we—continue to take an interest in these placid occupations when the lives of our friends and the liberties of Europe are in the balance? Is it not like fiddling while Rome burns?”
After reminding his audience that war is really no unusual circumstance for human beings are always living on the edge of a precipice between life and death, Lewis answers that we are called to different things:
The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God … This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation. … If our parents have sent us to Oxford, if our country allows us to remain there, this is prima facie evidence that the life which we, at any rate, can be lead to the glory of God at present is the learned life.
Mr. Stearns is right to lament. He has been called to a tremendous cause and has too few helpers. Some Christians fail to obey their call to help the poor and sick, to strive for justice and righteousness. But Stearns and others are wrong to question those whose vocation leads them upstream to the source of so many social ills. Businessmen creating jobs, teachers equipping underserved communities for future success, and policy advocates rebuilding the foundation of human society—the family—are each part of an interconnected network of human beings with differentiated skills working towards a common goal.
Those of us working to reaffirm and renew a culture of marriage and family have been given a difficult task. It is too much to expect those outside the Church to understand our commitment to such a cause; their hatred can be forgiven. In times such as these there is no time for dispute within the body. Instead, let us offer one another a nod in solitude as we pursue the call God has given to us, knowing that ultimately all things work together for good.
Eric Teetsel is the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife. Follow him on Twitter @EricTeetsel. Learn more at www.manhattandeclaration.org.
1. It Is Not Marriage
Calling something marriage does not make it marriage. Marriage has always been a covenant between a man and a woman which is by its nature ordered toward the procreation and education of children and the unity and wellbeing of the spouses.
The promoters of same-sex “marriage” propose something entirely different. They propose the union between two men or two women. This denies the self-evident biological, physiological, and psychological differences between men and women which find their complementarity in marriage. It also denies the specific primary purpose of marriage: the perpetuation of the human race and the raising of children.
Two entirely different things cannot be considered the same thing.
2. It Violates Natural Law
Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It is a relationship rooted in human nature and thus governed by natural law.
Natural law’s most elementary precept is that “good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided.” By his natural reason, man can perceive what is morally good or bad for him. Thus, he can know the end or purpose of each of his acts and how it is morally wrong to transform the means that help him accomplish an act into the act’s purpose.
Any situation which institutionalizes the circumvention of the purpose of the sexual act violates natural law and the objective norm of morality.
Being rooted in human nature, natural law is universal and immutable. It applies to the entire human race, equally. It commands and forbids consistently, everywhere and always. Saint Paul taught in the Epistle to the Romans that the natural law is inscribed on the heart of every man. (Rom. 2:14-15)
3. It Always Denies a Child Either a Father or a Mother
It is in the child’s best interests that he be raised under the influence of his natural father and mother. This rule is confirmed by the evident difficulties faced by the many children who are orphans or are raised by a single parent, a relative, or a foster parent.
The unfortunate situation of these children will be the norm for all children of a same-sex “marriage.” A child of a same-sex “marriage” will always be deprived of either his natural mother or father. He will necessarily be raised by one party who has no blood relationship with him. He will always be deprived of either a mother or a father role model.
Same-sex “marriage” ignores a child’s best interests.
4. It Validates and Promotes the Homosexual Lifestyle
In the name of the “family,” same-sex “marriage” serves to validate not only such unions but the whole homosexual lifestyle in all its bisexual and transgender variants.
Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society. As such, they play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. They externally shape the life of society, but also profoundly modify everyone’s perception and evaluation of forms of behavior.
Legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” would necessarily obscure certain basic moral values, devalue traditional marriage, and weaken public morality.
5. It Turns a Moral Wrong into a Civil Right
Homosexual activists argue that same-sex “marriage” is a civil rights issue similar to the struggle for racial equality in the 1960s.
This is false.
First of all, sexual behavior and race are essentially different realities. A man and a woman wanting to marry may be different in their characteristics: one may be black, the other white; one rich, the other poor; or one tall, the other short. None of these differences are insurmountable obstacles to marriage. The two individuals are still man and woman, and thus the requirements of nature are respected.
Same-sex “marriage” opposes nature. Two individuals of the same sex, regardless of their race, wealth, stature, erudition or fame, will never be able to marry because of an insurmountable biological impossibility.
Secondly, inherited and unchangeable racial traits cannot be compared with non-genetic and changeable behavior. There is simply no analogy between the interracial marriage of a man and a woman and the “marriage” between two individuals of the same sex.
6. It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally Sterile Union
Traditional marriage is usually so fecund that those who would frustrate its end must do violence to nature to prevent the birth of children by using contraception. It naturally tends to create families.
On the contrary, same-sex “marriage” is intrinsically sterile. If the “spouses” want a child, they must circumvent nature by costly and artificial means or employ surrogates. The natural tendency of such a union is not to create families.Therefore, we cannot call a same-sex union marriage and give it the benefits of true marriage.
7. It Defeats the State’s Purpose of Benefiting Marriage
One of the main reasons why the State bestows numerous benefits on marriage is that by its very nature and design, marriage provides the normal conditions for a stable, affectionate, and moral atmosphere that is beneficial to the upbringing of children—all fruit of the mutual affection of the parents. This aids in perpetuating the nation and strengthening society, an evident interest of the State.
Homosexual “marriage” does not provide such conditions. Its primary purpose, objectively speaking, is the personal gratification of two individuals whose union is sterile by nature. It is not entitled, therefore, to the protection the State extends to true marriage.
8. It Imposes Its Acceptance on All Society
By legalizing same-sex “marriage,” the State becomes its official and active promoter. The State calls on public officials to officiate at the new civil ceremony, orders public schools to teach its acceptability to children, and punishes any state employee who expresses disapproval.
In the private sphere, objecting parents will see their children exposed more than ever to this new “morality,” businesses offering wedding services will be forced to provide them for same-sex unions, and rental property owners will have to agree to accept same-sex couples as tenants.
In every situation where marriage affects society, the State will expect Christians and all people of good will to betray their consciences by condoning, through silence or act, an attack on the natural order and Christian morality.
9. It Is the Cutting Edge of the Sexual Revolution
In the 1960s, society was pressured to accept all kinds of immoral sexual relationships between men and women. Today we are seeing a new sexual revolution where society is being asked to accept sodomy and same-sex “marriage.”
If homosexual “marriage” is universally accepted as the present step in sexual “freedom,” what logical arguments can be used to stop the next steps of incest, pedophilia, bestiality, and other forms of unnatural behavior? Indeed, radical elements of certain “avant garde” subcultures are already advocating such aberrations.
The railroading of same-sex “marriage” on the American people makes increasingly clear what homosexual activist Paul Varnell wrote in the Chicago Free Press:
"The gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at changing people's view of homosexuality."
10. It Offends God
This is the most important reason. Whenever one violates the natural moral order established by God, one sins and offends God. Same-sex “marriage” does just this. Accordingly, anyone who professes to love God must be opposed to it.
Marriage is not the creature of any State. Rather, it was established by God in Paradise for our first parents, Adam and Eve. As we read in the Book of Genesis: “God created man in His image; in the Divine image he created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Gen. 1:28-29)
The same was taught by Our Savior Jesus Christ: “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife.” (Mark 10:6-7).
Genesis also teaches how God punished Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality: “The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.” (Gen. 19:24-25)
Taking a Principled not a Personal Stand
In writing this statement, we have no intention to defame or disparage anyone. We are not moved by personal hatred against any individual. In intellectually opposing individuals or organizations promoting the homosexual agenda, our only intent is the defense of traditional marriage, the family, and the precious remnants of Christian civilization.
As practicing Catholics, we are filled with compassion and pray for those who struggle against unrelenting and violent temptation to homosexual sin. We pray for those who fall into homosexual sin out of human weakness, that God may assist them with His grace.
We are conscious of the enormous difference between these individuals who struggle with their weakness and strive to overcome it and others who transform their sin into a reason for pride and try to impose their lifestyle on society as a whole, in flagrant opposition to traditional Christian morality and natural law. However, we pray for these too.
We pray also for the judges, legislators and government officials who in one way or another take steps that favor homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.” We do not judge their intentions, interior dispositions, or personal motivations.
We reject and condemn any violence. We simply exercise our liberty as children of God (Rom. 8:21) and our constitutional rights to free speech and the candid, unapologetic and unashamed public display of our Catholic faith. We oppose arguments with arguments. To the arguments in favor of homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” we respond with arguments based on right reason, natural law and Divine Revelation.
In a polemical statement like this, it is possible that one or another formulation may be perceived as excessive or ironic. Such is not our intention.