In Case of Subpoena, have something good in hand:
Promoting (and Living) the Truth About Marriage
In case of subpoena (for PDF version illustrated click and go to page two)
I have to admit being a little shocked when hearing the news this week how five ministers in Houston received a subpoena from City attorneys demanding “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” Of course, I had been “guaranteed” by “keep-calm it’s not that big of deal” folks that nothing like this would ever happen. Shows they are definitely not prophets, but maybe more like head-in-sand ostriches. Yet another mile-marker in “slouching towards Gomorrah,” but I lose count at the dizzying pace.
What I am thinking in regard to the subpoena, however, is this question: If you or I were subpoenaed like those five in Houston, would we have anything worth reading to give them? I can only hope that none of us would be empty-handed. Surely some of us would show up with FH’s free on-line and handed-out book, Eros Redeemed in Jesus’ Embrace: Short Readings on Spirituality and Sexuality (http://www.foresthomechurch.org/resources/eros-redeemed/). Others might come forth with Sam Allberry’s Is God Anti-Gay? (Have you read your copy yet? What are your thoughts?) While both of these are clear, well-researched, and Biblically sound, it occurs to me that we have little directly about marriage itself. The young married group that meets at Tim and Karen’s do, but as a whole not so much it seems. So I wanted to put forth a little on “The Truth About Marriage.”
I want to take a different tact. Most of us are quite familiar with what the Bible teaches about marriage (or even easier: how the Bible pictures marriage—the view from Genesis 2 is hard to misunderstand! Jesus reaffirmed this picture in His teaching.) But what do we say after saying, “The Bible says so”? Many today no longer care what the Bible says, although they should and we rightly do. I met a high school senior who was given a failing grade on a paper at Fairview High School two years ago for simply quoting the Bible and giving no further reasons for her views on marriage. Did she have to fail? Were there other reasons in addition at her disposal? I am glad to report that we do have good reasons to explain and persuade others that involve reading God’s book of nature. Since all truth is God’s truth, we have some very good things to say which are consistent with and supportive of the Bible, and which non-Christians take notice. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to quote the Bible, for it is the Word of the Living God, but it sometimes helps to bring forth natural connections and understandings that the Bible illuminates. Sometimes it’s then that folks begin to see the Biblical picture for the glorious truth it is.
What follows is taken from Ryan T. Anderson, editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J. Anderson is in his early 30s and researches marriage and ethics. As I cannot improve on his clarity, I will quote from one of his many writings. LH
1 Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces.
2 Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need both a mother and a father.
3 Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. Marital breakdown weakens civil society and limited government.
4 Government recognizes marriage because it benefits society in a way that no other relationship does.
5 Government can treat people equally and respect their liberty without redefining marriage.
6 Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and deny the importance of mothers and fathers; weaken monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency, the norms through which marriage benefits society; and threaten religious liberty.
Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need both a mother and a father. Marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. Marriage has public purposes that transcend its private purposes. ….
Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing.
Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else.
In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. This reduces marriage to a system to approve emotional bonds or distribute legal privileges.
Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is the culmination of this revisionism, and it would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds. Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and would deny, as a matter of policy, the ideal that a child needs both a mom and a dad. Decades of social science, including the latest studies using large samples and robust research methods, show that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and a father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and expand welfare programs. Redefining marriage would legislate a new principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is.
Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage. It rejects the anthropological truth that marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage to abandon the norm of male–female sexual complementarity would also make other essential characteristics—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional. Marriage cannot do the work that society needs it to do if these norms are further weakened.
Redefining marriage is also a direct and demonstrable threat to religious freedom because it marginalizes those who affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This is already evident in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., among other locations.
Concern for the common good requires protecting and strengthening the marriage culture by promoting the truth about marriage.
In response to Ryan’s comments, we stand committed to the truth about marriage regardless of whoever or whatever demands differently. Further, we have good reasons which can be clearly communicated. Most of all, take heart and stand firm in Godly confidence, responding to those who oppose with gentleness and respect (2 Timothy 2:25; 1 Peter 3:15) because we have the position of strength, as truth will be justified when all is come to pass.
For fuller discussion see link to Ryan’s whole article here: (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/03/marriage-what-it-is-why-it-matters-and-the-consequences-of-redefining-it#_ftn11)
If not an article in hand, how about a video that goes along with the above?
Here is a well-produced five minute video (with British voice and great graphics) called, “Marriage = Biology (Not Bigotry).” Last year morning radio show host Ralph Bristol asked his listeners for something about marriage that had clear basic thinking on the matter. I sent him this, he played part of it on air, and put it on his website, reflecting its value as a helpful voice in the public square. Check it out, be equipped, not empty handed.