Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Defining marriage, part 3

As I already discussed here and here, the California Supreme Court will conduct hearings next Tuesday, March 4, to decide whether it is “constitutional” to restrict marriage to the union of one man and one woman. Similar debates have been taking place in other states across the country.

Although we hope and pray the Supreme Court will uphold the traditional definition of marriage, we also know there’s a good chance that Prop. 22 will be overturned, and that a “same-sex marriage” provision will quickly follow from the state legislature. For this reason, is promoting the “California Marriage Protection Act.” This initiative would put a constitutional amendment on the November general ballot that would add, once-and-for-all, the following statement to our state law: “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Getting a constitutional amendment on the November ballot will not be easy. The first step to qualify is the collection of almost one million signatures between now and April 2008. You can support this initiative simply by signing your name on a petition form, and then spreading the word for others to do the same. The forms can be picked up at a distribution center in your area, or can be received by mail by using the online request form.

Here are five reasons I support a marriage amendment that would protect the traditional definition of marriage:

  • For the sake of obedience. As I explained in my previous post, marriage was instituted by God, and was clearly limited to one man and one woman. Any deviation from this pattern is disobedience to God. No one, including the state or federal government, has the prerogative to tamper with this fundamental, God-ordained institution.
  • For the sake of homosexuals. God calls me to love my neighbor (Matt. 22:39). This love should be merciful and unconditional. But love does not mean I remain silent when my neighbor stumbles into harm's way. It means I look out for him, try to help him, and promote what would be in his best interest. Because homosexuality is morally wrong, psychologically harmful, and biologically dangerous, I cannot condone this behavior. Rather, love motivates me to help homosexuals by protecting and rewarding traditional marriage.
  • For the sake of children. If same-sex marriage is approved, then homosexual couples will have more opportunity to become parents through adoption, surrogate mothers, and in-vitro fertilization. This would produce an imbalanced and unstable home life. Many boys without dads will become effeminate and lack discipline; many girls without dads will search for male affection from other sources. Many boys without moms will lack gentleness and respect toward the opposite sex; many girls without moms will lack emotional support and adequate training toward becoming a wife and mother. Every child needs and deserves both male and female role models, which are best provided by a father and a mother. There is also some evidence that homosexuality is more likely to lead to sexual abuse in the home.
  • For the sake of the church. If same-sex marriage is approved, then pastors and churches can expect to be increasingly penalized for “discrimination” and “hate crimes” under the guise of “civil rights.” Pastors might face imprisonment for declaring homosexuality a sin, or for refusing to conduct same sex marriages. Churches and religious organizations might be required by law to hire homosexuals or host homosexual weddings, even if it violates their religious convictions. One such incident already took place in New Jersey, where a Christian camp lost their tax-exemption status for refusing to host a same-sex civil union ceremony on their property.
  • For the sake of society. Once traditional marriage has been re-defined, there would be no moral absolutes in the area of sexuality. Same-sex marriage would pave the way for legalizing other behavior such as polygamy, incest, and bestiality. After all, how could you prevent two women from marrying one man, if they both comply? Why couldn’t a person marry her dog, if they have a mutual affection for one another? And what if a person wanted to marry a tree in their front yard? (Is this entirely far-fetched among some environmentalists?). A marriage amendment ensures these other relationships and bizarre acts would at least never be confused with marriage.

California is known for her beautiful beaches, picturesque coastlines, and rugged cliffs. But if you spend any time driving the California coast, you’ll quickly appreciate the guard rails. These steel rails prevent many drivers from veering off the road and plummeting to their death. In the same way, a marriage amendment is a kind of “guard rail” for society. It should be maintained by the government to prevent people from carelessly driving off the edge of certain moral boundaries. If, on the other hand, California overturns Prop. 22 and approves same-sex marriage, it will be like dismantling the guard rail and painting lines that head right off the edge, leading countless people to their demise. The results would be devastating.

For the five reasons listed above, I support a marriage amendment. And if you are a registered voter in California, I encourage you to sign the Protect Marriage initiative. Of course, this initiative cannot produce genuine reform in the hearts and lives of people or society. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can do that. But by supporting this marriage amendment, we can take a simple step that will honor God’s clear definition of marriage, slow the pace of moral decline, and preserve a society where the gospel can be freely shared for generations to come.


David said...

I just got a petition from Rob Zinn saying a millin signatures were needed. Any thoughts on petition at church? I'm for the marriage pertection act... I hesitate to ask people to sign petitions at church.

Stephen Jones said...

I appreciate your caution about mixing church and politics. I too want to be selective of what kinds of petitions are circulating at church, but this is one issue I believe we should publicly support. It's a biblical and moral issue, which is not directed against a single political party or political candidate. The church should be devoted to Kingdom work, not social/political work, but I believe signing a marriage initiative is a simple way to be salt and light in this world. It takes very little time and effort, and shouldn't strain any of the other existing ministries of the church.

On the California Family Council website there is a helpful list of activities that churches can and cannot legally do. Of course, just because something "can" be done doesn't mean it "should" be done in the church, but at least we can know what is legally acceptable:

Churches CAN

*Conduct voter-registration drives.
*Distribute voter education material, including issue-oriented voter guides with the voting records of candidates.
*Hold candidate forums where all candidates are invited to speak.
*Allow candidates and elected officials to speak in the church, but if the speaker speaks about the race, “equal time, equal opportunity”laws prevail.
*Freely discuss issues and pending legislation.
*Lobby for or against legislation and spend and an "insubstantial”amount of the churches budget (approximately five percent) on “direct”lobbying efforts.
*Have individuals within the church, including the pastor, endorse candidates as private citizens –not on behalf of the church.
*Work with political organizations or committees that are not part of the church (such as California Family Council and Pastors Information Resource Council).

Churches CANNOT

*Endorse candidates.
*Contribute church funds or services to candidates or Political Action Committees.
*Contribute church funds for political events that are clearly partisan.
*Allow candidates or political parties to solicit funds on church property.
*Create a Political Action Committee for the purpose of distributing funds to a candidate or political party.
*Distribute candidate information that clearly favors one candidate (or political party) over another.