Is same-sex marriage really such a big deal? Are conservatives and Christians opposing same-sex marriage for no good reason? Are there any good arguments against it?
Christians are certainly opposed to same-sex marriage because it is a significant departure from the way God made us to live. As Jesus himself said, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”
Notice what Jesus says. ‘For this reason.’ The very reason for marriage is the difference between men and women. Marriage is the coming together of one man and one woman into a life-long union (as the context about divorce in Matt 19 and Mark 10 makes clear).
So Jesus defined marriage as the joining of a man and woman into this one-flesh relationship. Moreover, homosexual sex is consistently condemned as sin in the Bible. These reasons alone are enough for Christians to oppose same-sex marriage.
But because in the beginning (heterosexual) marriage is the way God created us to live, it should not surprise us that there are far reaching implications for departing from God’s good pattern.
Here are just two examples.
Marriage is a place for life-long commitment, for proper sexual intimacy and for the procreation and nurture of children. In that sense marriage is about real and deep love. But it is much more than a malleable social convention based around a loose definition of love. For all the failures of particular marriages to achieve these goals, it is the bedrock of a stable society that children are born with a father and mother who raise them in a stable and loving family environment. There is very clear evidence to show that households that are not stable are not the ideal way to raise children. Children raised by a mother and father who love them are clearly the most ‘advantaged’ on average. The media keep telling people that there is no difference between children raised by a father and a mother vs a same-sex couple, but there is not good evidence to substantiate this claim. The claim is more often driven by ideology than evidence. As the Australian Government Australian Institute of Family Studies reports, “most studies in this area are methodically flawed being based on small and homogenous samples of highly educated and middle-class participants. Many of the comparative studies conducted to date on children or young adults raised in same-sex parented families are based on volunteer samples of participants rather than random samples.”
But secondly, and in some ways of much greater concern is that same-sex marriage will obliterate any meaningful definition of ‘mother’ and ‘father’. As Andrew Errington argues, “The success of same-sex marriage will not only marginalise the principle that biological parenthood is normal and best. It will mean that the discussion of whether children need their biological mother and father is over for good, because such a claim will be regarded as discriminatory against the necessarily non-biological parent or parents in a same-sex marriage. To be as equally married as anyone else requires that we never again question the various ways children enter these marriages, and whether these means of having children are best for children.” It is an unfortunate reality that same-sex marriage means the end of ‘procreation’ of children and the beginning of ‘procurement’ of children. This process does not have any necessary connection to a ‘father’ or ‘mother’ who have an ongoing obligation to the child. That is not best for children or families.