Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Politics, Marriage, and Christianity


There is a lot of misinformation out there about the aims of Christians in politics.  I see opinions from the left who are afraid that devout Christians running for office are simply doing it so they can ram their belief system down everybody's throat.  Unfortunately, there are some people on the far right that feed those fears by responding "You're darned right!"  However, I think the bulk of the Christians in this country (at least from my point of view) are not like that.  We do not want a theocracy.  We've seen the issues in other parts of the world and we've looked at our own history and have concluded that theocracies seem to always end up oppressing their people.  We agree with our Founding Fathers that religion should not control government and government should not control religion.  However, we also feel that religion should be the moral compass of our country.  

One of the fundamental tenets of Christianity is to love God and love your neighbor (Luke 10:27).  If we could truly live this principle, the world would be a much better place.  However, loving your neighbor does not mean compromising your principles because they're not the same as your neighbor's.  That's where the controversy around marriage comes in.

Marriage is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) institutions in Christianity starting with Adam and Eve as the first husband and wife.  Marriage then was about family as God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28).  I submit that marriage continues to have the same purpose today; it's about creating and nurturing the next generation.  While many people may say that marriage is a commitment between two adults in love, I say that marriage is still about family.  Yes, the love between a husband and wife is extremely important but, at the end of the day, you get married to raise a family.  Government supports marriage because it recognizes that a child has the best chance of becoming a responsible adult citizen if raised by both a mother and a father.

Today there's a lot of controversy about marriage and what it really is.  Some groups have attacked traditional marriage saying that it is prejudiced and denies people's rights to marry whomever they wish.  So they call upon government (usually the courts) to change marriage into something that supports that lifestyle.  Their arguments sound logical, are very persuasive, and paint those that do not agree with them as ignorant and intolerant.  The problem is that their arguments are fundamentally flawed.

Marriage is not a government institution.  Marriage is a religious and a cultural institution.  Government does not have the right or authority to redefine marriage because government never defined it in the first place.  However, because marriage creates the next generation, government has a vested interest in supporting it.  After all, government wants the next generation to be a generation of good citizens.  A child's chances of becoming a drain on society (on welfare, in prison, etc.) are lowest when the child is raised in a stable home with both a mother and a father.  This is government's aim when it passes legislation supporting marriage and family.  I realize that there are a lot of instances of kids from non-traditional homes becoming good citizens and kids from "ideal" homes becoming some of the worst kinds of criminals, however, statistically speaking, if you grow up in a home with a mother and a father, your chances for success are the greatest.  There is no perfect solution but stable families with both a mother and a father give our children their best shot.

Another fundamental flaw with the justification for changing marriage is the assumption that marriage is about two adults falling in love and making a "special commitment" to each other.  Historically, marriage has been a man and a woman committing to each other in order to start a family.  While the two are similar, the difference is that the purpose of this new idea of marriage is to show that two adults are committed to one another and the purpose of traditional marriage is show that a  man and a woman are committing to one another to bear the responsibility of raising a family.  Although the difference in definition is slight, the difference in implication is enormous.

Those are the social reasons, but there are also religious reasons.  Marriage is between a man and a woman because that's the way God designed it.  I firmly believe that God instituted the family and that no alternative institution has ever been found that can raise children as effectively as a family comprised of both a father and a mother.  Once again I echo the sentiment that government needs to stay out of religion.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, expecting government to stay away from marriage is a futile hope.  Right now, the state of Arizona has a marriage amendment that will be voted on this November.  It alters the State Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.  I really wish it didn't have to come to this.  I wish that government had left well enough alone.  But it didn't.  Courts in various states have declared that traditional marriage is unconstitutional.  The only way to fix and/or prevent this mistake is to amend the State Constitution.  So now I am compelled to make marriage supported by law in order to keep it from being destroyed by law.

Now, to all those out there who ask what a homosexual couple who are committed to each other can do to have the same legal protections afforded to married couples.  To them I say that, as I understand it, all of those protections are currently available to them in one form or another.  If I am wrong or they are too difficult to get, contact your elected representative to see if there could be appropriate legislation to streamline the process.  Go about the process the right way.  The law was meant to be changed and improved through the legislative process.

Finally I want people to know that the push to preserve marriage is not a vendetta against homosexuals.  While it is true that I feel very strongly that homosexuality is wrong, I don't hate homosexuals.  They are just as human as I am and deserve to be treated with love and respect.  Remember, when Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, he taught to love ALL of our neighbors, not just the ones that believe the same way we do.  However, if a group of people attack an institution that I feel is sacred, as traditional marriage is currently being attacked, they can't expect me to sit idly by and do nothing.   This is an institution that is both culturally and religiously one of the fundamental pillars of civilization and it deserves to be protected and preserved.