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.
Without any exaggeration, it is a highly-discussed topic today. People were divided into groups of supporters and opponents of such practice. Both have strong and persuasive arguments. If same-sex marriage is legalized, the world will be changed entirely; it can’t be argued. Here are several points for and against that legalizing.
Support Human’s Freedoms
All people should have a right to marry someone who he or she likes in spite of sexual identity. However, when one speaks about such kind of freedom, one rarely thinks about homosexuals. Why? As they are citizens of a certain country, they have own duties and surely they should have a right to choose whom to marry. So, it is fair to make gay marriages legal.
To provide peace between different social groups in the country, minorities’ rights have to be respected. It doesn’t mean that they will dictate rules for the major community, but that way all citizens will be able to leave in equality and placidity. Moreover, lives of ordinary people will not be affected by legalizing of homosexual marriage in point of fact.
If parents are homosexual, it doesn’t mean that family is unnatural or defective. Spousal duties can be divided as well. What’s more, such couples can adopt kids and save them from the unpleasant orphanhood, giving them love and care as traditional families usually do. The research has proved that a gay pair can raise and educate the child to be humane, tolerant and respectful to others. The point that their parents are homosexuals doesn’t make kids maladaptive or unequal.
Since gay marriages are validated, there will be less stereotyping and prejudgments. The society will see and understand that such couples can be successful parents and happy with their family life. As a result, less homosexual people will suffer from somebody’s sayings or evil jokes, and community will become stronger and healthier.
However, there are several arguments that show legalizing in bad light.
There is an opinion that gay marriage is harmful for society as it reverses roles in family life. Men start to act like women and vice versa. That will make the community weak and vulnerable. Of course, it may sound unfair, but there are certain masculine and feminine professions. For example, man will be better in welder’s or plumber’s profession anyway. Moreover, kids can get wrong education, and it will badly affect their future. Boys should be definitely taught that girls are weaker and it is inexcusably to hurt them.
As gay couples are not physically able to give a birth to children, increasing of such marriages can lead to the demographic crisis. Furthermore, for homosexuals it can be more complicated to adopt a child than for a traditional pair.
For many people, same-sex marriages are immoral; they say it destructs the conception of marriage at all and leads to depravation of nation. Homosexuality is often compared to various sexual deviations as well. Moreover, for most religions, it is inacceptable and may cause conflicts in society.
Summing up, there are lots of arguments for and against; however, some of them are myths or inaccuracies. The point is that rights of all people should be respected and nobody can be singled out for their statements or sexual orientation.
But What If My Attitude Is Neutral
Let us assume that you may neither support nor oppose the idea of gay marriage. How should you develop the topic in this case? We are going to consider a few handy suggestions and facts which can help you to state your neutral point of view and, at the same time, to provide quite a fulfilling review of such controversial issue.
Suggestion #1: Just Write It Frankly
There is no doubt that the marriage between two people of the same sex is a risky question to answer it very definitely. Besides, you may be not very aware of the issue or even not interested in it. Surely, you should not include statements like these in your essay. However, you can stay frank and just write that you personally are neither for nor against legalization and the very phenomenon of the gay marriage.
In order to sound less careless of the subject you should muse over and yet more informed on it generally, you should take into account all the ideas that are put forward by those who do and do not support same-sex marriages. So, you can search for several different opinions, describe and analyze them, and then explain why none of them is powerful enough to make you take one particular side.
You should remember that there is actually nothing bad about you if you have not come up with your own clear and definite view on this matter. It just means that you can be ranked among those who “don’t know/are neutral/have no answer/other” (underline what applicable). No joking! You can look through the Wikipedia article dedicated to this topic and see the real statistics.
Suggestion #2: Base on the Similar Opinion Expressed by a Respected Person
Definitely, you are not the only one who has such neutral attitude to the issue discussed. However, even if your nearest and dearest, your friends and favorite teachers also stick to neutrality, you still should not refer to them. Instead, you can take the trouble to search for the opinions of respected scientists in the Net and use them as quite a solid base for yours.
Also, you can base on reliable and widely known online media sources, as they usually present either the statistical data, the results of real surveys or just quote the words of sociologists, psychologists, doctors and other specialists. Still, you should forget about the two opposite sides of the argument, so even though you are neutral, you cannot but consider how these two sides protect their positions.
Suggestion #3: Try to Explain What You Base Your Opinion On
Despite the fact that you do not consider yourself either an adherer or an opponent of the idea that two guys or two girls can live a happy family life and raise adopted children, still there should be some reasons for your neutrality. It is really worth expressing them in your essay, as they can provide really valid explanation of why your own position. However, you should not forget about the main tendencies concerning the issue. Let us set a few examples:
- you may take the gay marriage just as a fact without assessing it and evaluating its influence on the society;
- you may also consider that today we need to study the original reasons of such life choice more in order to come up with reasonable arguments and evidence regarding the dilemma of whether it is moral or immoral, good or bad;
- speaking more pathetically, you may set the range of examples of much more immoral deeds the mankind can be accused of, and consider the modern issue of gay marriages in contrast with them.
A Few Final General Recommendations
Whichever side you take, you should try to stick to the following:
- stay humane and polite: your opinion cannot offense any other side of this argument;
- provide as much reliable evidence as possible: on the Internet you will discover that the links to articles for gay marriages and against them just take turns;
- regardless of the opinion you personally support, consider that of your opponents: firstly, you will demonstrate your awareness of another point of view; secondly, you can use it as a basis for building your own ideas.