JACKSON, Tenn. – Feb. 24, 2014 – The heart of the marriage equality debate lies in the definition of marriage, said Ryan T. Anderson during the “True Marriage Equality: Man and Woman” lecture Feb. 13 at Union University.
“Every marriage policy, whether you’re in favor of redefining marriage or not, will draw a line between those relationships that are marriages and those relationships that aren’t,” said Anderson, writer and researcher for The Heritage Foundation. “If we want to draw a line that’s based on principle – a line that reflects the truth – we have to know what marriage is.”
Speaking to about 200 lecture attendees, Anderson said many people describe marriage as an intense emotional relationship, blending the concept of marriage with general companionship. Adopting this perception not only fails to limit marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman but also neglects to explain the laws surrounding marital relationships.
“The slogan that marriage lasts as long as the love lasts seems to be a good descriptor for an understanding of marriage that is just based on an emotional union,” Anderson noted. “(But) it seems if marriage is just about romance, we wouldn’t need government issuing licenses and regulating adult romantic relationships.”
Marriage has served historically as a comprehensive relationship between a man and a woman, uniting a couple for the purpose of creating new human beings within a permanent and exclusive family unit, Anderson said. As a result, the marital union minimizes what Anderson called the “absentee father crisis” – one of the largest social issues today.
“Government has to do less if civil society – and the central institution of civil society being the marital family – does what it’s supposed to,” Anderson said. “Defining marriage correctly and encouraging marriage is actually a way that the government limits itself.”
Anderson noted that the U.S. government does not ban any consenting adult relationship – including homosexual relationships. Businesses can offer marriage-like benefits to same-sex couples if employers choose to provide these options, and houses of worship are allowed to conduct same-sex union ceremonies if religious bodies choose to host these events.
If the government redefines marriage to include homosexual unions, however, Anderson said all U.S. citizens would be coerced to treat same-sex relationships as marital relationships, regardless of the religious beliefs or moral convictions of a person, business or institution.
“There (would) be no institution left in public life that would uphold even as an ideal the fact that every child deserves a mother and a father,” Anderson added. “It would change the marriage institution away from the needs of children and much more toward the desires of adults.”
But hope for traditional marriage is not lost, Anderson said, as he encouraged Christians to proclaim the truth about marriage in the political, intellectual and cultural realms. Christians also must begin reversing actions that have contributed to the acceptance of homosexuality, including divorce and non-marital childbearing.
“In redefining marriage, the state will teach a lie about what marriage is,” Anderson said. “We each have to bear witness to the truth in whatever way our vocation requires of us. Live out the truth of marriage in your own life, and then advocate for it and teach it in whatever setting your life takes you.”
By Beth Knoll