Debate over the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decisions on Wednesday continues, with activists optimistic, yet pledging to forge on toward full equality — and with those opposed voicing their disagreement with the sentiment behind the justices’ views on the matter.
Naturally, among many of those who are frustrated over the results, there’s the traditional, religious view coloring their persuasion. In America, this is predominately a Christian theological construct that sees marriage as an institution that is thousands of years old and that has always, exclusively, belonged to heterosexuals.
Largely, this is based on the Bible and critics generally point to the text and claim that it is patently outdated (supporters, obviously, reject such a notion).
In the wake of the court battles, there are some serious fears surrounding what could happen if full legalization takes hold. While some will embrace these ideals, others will certainly dub them absurd. Regardless, a debate about each element continues to unfold. Here are just five of the arguments against same-sex unions.
Slippery Slope Fears
One of the more common contentions relies upon the traditional paradigm of a relationship existing between one man and one woman. Considering that this has been the formulation for eons, gay marriage opponents hold that maintaining the status quo is essential. And here’s why: Changing the formula, in their view, opens the floodgates to any and all compositions of marriage.
While some advocates who support same-sex unions rebuff these fears, conservatives have questioned whether gay marriage legalization would also yield calls for polygamous weddings to also be legitimized. Indeed, some plural families are hoping that decriminalization of marriages that involve more that two adults will be advanced in the wake of the Supreme Court rulings.
So, to a degree, there is some legitimacy surrounding these fears — although there’s no indication that gay marriage would definitively yield other relationship forms. But some view this argument as patently ridiculous. Rolling Stone, for instance, dismissed this critique as sounding “eerily similar to the nonsensical arguments once made by racists about the dangers of interracial marriage.”
Regardless, Ryan T. Anderson, author of “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense,” has shared concerns about this issue. A fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Anderson has written and researched extensively on the subject of same-sex marriage. Earlier this year, he penned an article delving into the slippery slope argument, among other issues.
Watch Anderson debate the Supreme Court decisions, below:
“If the law recognized same-sex couples as spouses, would some argue that it fails to respect the equality of citizens in multiple-partner relationships? Are those inclined to such relationships being treated unjustly when their consensual romantic bonds go unrecognized, their children thereby ‘stigmatized’ and their tax filings unprivileged?,” he asked.
Noting, based on a 2009 Newsweek article, that there are over 500,000 polyamorous households in the U.S., the ramifications, he argues, are paramount to consider. Using one of the common arguments that those supporting gay marriage tout, Anderson attempted to address critics of conservatives:
Supporters of redefinition use the following analogy: Laws defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman are unjust—fail to treat people equally—exactly like laws that prevented interracial marriage. Yet such appeals beg the question of what is essential to marriage. They assume exactly what is in dispute: that gender is as irrelevant as race in state recognition of marriage. However, race has nothing to with marriage, and racist laws kept the races apart. Marriage has everything to do with men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and children, and that is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Regardless, some would charge that affirming marriages between two consulting adults is an entirely different animal and that same-sex legalization would not pave the way to other formulations.
A Threat to Religious Liberty
One of the more intriguing elements associated with the public’s shift in opinion on gay marriage is the extent to which perceptions have shifted. While traditional views were once par for the course, it seems they are now in the minority — at least statistically — when it comes to the same-sex marriage issue. Naturally, some are wondering how free speech and, in particular, religious liberty, will be impacted if gay marriage becomes the law of the land.
Churches — the majority of which oppose gay marriage and would not be willing to join same-sex couples in wedding ceremonies — are non-profit organizations, which means that they are registered as 501(c)(3) organizations with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Generally, churches are free to make their own decisions when it comes to employment and they are granted the right to hire and fire based on religious grounds (an exception when compared to other groups registered with the government).
But what happens if they refuse to perform marriages? For now, nothing. But some fear that the future trajectory could change the religious liberty dynamic.
Redefining marriage marginalizes those with traditional views and leads to the erosion of religious liberty. The law and culture will seek to eradicate such views through economic, social, and legal pressure. If marriage is redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage—a union of a man and woman ordered to procreation and family life—would be seen increasingly as a malicious prejudice to be driven to the margins of culture. The consequences for religious believers are becoming apparent.
The administrative state may require those who contract with the government, receive governmental monies, or work directly for the state to embrace and promote same-sex marriage even if it violates their religious beliefs. Nondiscrimination law may make even private actors with no legal or financial ties to the government—including businesses and religious organizations—liable to civil suits for refusing to treat same-sex relationships as marriages. Finally, private actors in a culture that is now hostile to traditional views of marriage may discipline, fire, or deny professional certification to those who express support for traditional marriage.
Business owners, too, have encountered religious liberty issues. Take, for instance, the Oregon-based Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a Christian-operated bakery that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. Today, they are facing a battle with activists — one that could lead to the business’ closure.
Of course, there’s a difference between businesses and churches (at least legally) making these decisions, but the issue of religious liberty is, of course, at stake. Fear of the unknown certainly continues to keep religious liberty proponents on their toes, especially after the contraceptive mandate ended up creating such a furor among religiously-owned organizations.
The Importance of Mothers and Fathers
Gay marriage critics generally uphold the role of a mother and father in shaping a child’s life. In today’s world, though, with so many single-family households and with the divorce rate high, many families lack this structure. Nonetheless, Anderson, among his other arguments, believes that a marriage redefinition that included same-sex couples would further disassociate childbearing from marriage.
In the end, he believes this dynamic would hurt children.
“It would deny as a matter of policy the ideal that children need a mother and a father,” he wrote earlier this year. “Traditional marriage laws reinforce the idea that a married mother and father is the most appropriate environment for rearing children, as the best available social science suggests.”
Certainly, some would agree with Anderson, but then there are also people who argue that a loving home is all a child needs, regardless of the sex of the parents. His point, though, is that interchanging the importance of mothers and fathers and acting as though both are the same has some sociological pitfalls.
There has been research in the past that corroborates this theory. Last year, as TheBlaze previously reported, a study published in the journal ”Social Science Research” tackled this very ideal, finding that there are, indeed, major differences worth noting. These purported discrepancies exist in the areas of social, emotional and relationship measures, Deseret News reported at the time.
The study, which is bound to be controversial, found lower reported income levels, poorer mental and physical health and more problematic romantic relationships, among adults who came from same-sex homes. Among 40 measures, there were 25 differences observed among this cohort when compared to kids who were raised in heterosexual households. Deseret continues:
The research does not address why the differences exist. It doesn’t predict if changing attitudes that are more accepting of same-sex relationships will mean that children growing up today with same-sex parents will one day fare better in similar analysis. It doesn’t address stigma or whether the difference is not the sexual preference of the parents but rather how stable the home life was, lead investigator Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at University of Texas Austin’s Population Research Center, told the Deseret News.
“Nor does the study tell us that same-sex parents are necessarily bad parents,” he said in a written statement. “Rather, family forms that are associated with instability or non-biological parents tend to pose risks for children as they age into adulthood.”
His study does challenge long-held assertions that there are no outcome differences between children raised in intact biological families and those with same-sex parents.
The sample sizes in the aforementioned study, though, were small and could, thus, impact the results. And other studies have found the opposite — and that, on some indicators, same-sex couples’ children have experienced benefits from their households that exceed those of straight couples’ kids.
Plus, the American Psychological Association (APA) has rejected claims that children are impacted in negative ways by same-sex parents. The group argues that there is no difference between outcomes and success among children raised in gay households versus those brought up in straight homes.
“On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the American Psychological Association (APA) and other health professional and scientific organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation,” a statement reads on the group’s website. “That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”
Clearly, the debate continues on this front.
The Weakening of Marital Components
Anderson also argues that changing the marital formula to remove the essential male-female paradigm would also dislodge other important characteristics of healthy matrimony. He argues that, “Redefining marriage would weaken monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—the norms through which marriage benefits society.”
Because same-sex marriage makes the opposite-sex formula optional, Anderson believes that the other aforementioned characteristics would also be treated in the same regard. He adds, “Weakening marital norms and severing the connection of marriage with responsible procreation are the admitted goals of many prominent advocates of redefining marriage.”
The notion, essentially, is that by dismantling the centerpiece of marriage (heterosexuality), all other elements would, in turn, be loosened and weakened.
God Will Punish Society
For many Americans who embrace Biblical values, acceptance of same-sex marriage as national law would be disastrous. Consider Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and his views on the two historic same-sex marriage rulings. This week, he said that the Supreme Court’s decisions show the nation’s lack of spirituality.
“The moral and spiritual blindness of our many of our nation’s top political leaders and judges is clearly stunning,” he said. “But we should not be surprised by this darkened understanding (Eph 4:18), it is the by-product of a people who have forgotten God.”
Perkins said that Christians should take issue with the nation’s “rejection of God’s revealed truth.” And he’s not alone. Many religious leaders believe that, as America continues to separate itself from the Lord by enacting laws that purportedly separate the republic from His teachings, the nation’s blessing will dwindle.
Critics of this theological worldview obviously believe that it is rooted in absurdity and that Jesus, as commentator Andrew Sullivan said this week, would actually weep in joy over the Supreme Court’s decisions.
What do you think about these arguments? Let us know in the comments section.