By Adriane Heins
The issue is simple, says Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage: While people of same-sex attraction can choose to live however they want, it doesn’t give them permission to redefine marriage for everyone else.
Brown spoke to LCMS pastors on the topic of marriage in a March 13 webinar, a part of the Synod’s “Free to Be Faithful” education and awareness campaign, the goal of which is to “protect American citizens’ freedom of religion, to maintain the rights afforded in the Constitution for future generations and to respond to increasing intrusions by the government in the realm of the church.” (Learn more here.)
Acknowledging that Christians are in a “difficult position in the defense of marriage as a union between a man and a woman,” Brown also believes “there is reason for hope.”
Protecting that definition is the reason Brown’s organization exists. The National Organization for Marriage, according to its website, “is currently active in numerous state battles to protect marriage, is fighting to ensure that the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 are defended at the Supreme Court, and organizes demonstrations of grassroots supports, like the March for Marriage, all across the country.”
But promoting marriage isn’t just for those who have a husband or wife. “For us, number one is to create a generation of leaders, young people who are willing to speak and who are unafraid,” Brown explained. “What I hear from folks time and time again, when they stand up on Facebook … they are instantly attacked, and that has an effect on silencing them.”
“We need heroes at a time like this,” Brown said of the youth. “You are going to be tested, called names, but ultimately we need those who will stand for truth.” Because of this, he encouraged LCMS church workers to engage the young people of their congregations on this issue. “It’s critical that pastors preach on this issue and youth leaders talk about this issue: What is marriage?”
While America has “not yet had massive support from youth” with regard to marriage, Brown explained that countries like France are seeing a resurgence in the defense of traditional family values among their young people, who came out en masse during a recent rally in which more than 1 million people marched in support of marriage in that country. Brown noted that in the United States, the March for Marriage, held June 19 in Washington, D.C., is a promising way to get youth interested and involved.
Webinar attendees from Wyoming and Texas to New York and New Jersey heard Brown summarize the timeline of the unprecedented attempt by the government to redefine both the institution of marriage and the word itself. He also noted that while “proponents of same-sex marriage will claim that there is strong support for the redefinition of marriage,” polling actually statistically indicates that “it’s not true that the country in any way strongly supports” it.
In addition to this and citing the Supreme Court’s recent decision to put a stay on “the Utah decision overturning marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” Brown remains optimistic about protecting the historic definition of marriage. “There is still a majority — although not as big as it once was — that believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” he explained.
The church, however, still needs to be prepared, Brown said. “What’s immediately happening is more dangerous: Any area in which the church reaches out into the public square, it’s being punished.” And if the government does choose unilaterally to redefine marriage, similar to the style in which the Roe v. Wade case was decided, “like the pro-life movement, we will need to even more quickly band together, unite and make clear that even though the government has done this, it does not make it true.”
“It will be key that there is unity among people of different religions and political backgrounds,” Brown explained. “We must refuse to betray our beliefs … and continue to argue in the public square the importance of religious liberty.”
Ultimately, the support of marriage as a one man-one woman union “is not about discrimination but about the truth of human anthropology: that men and women are made for each other and that children deserve to have a mother and father,” he said.
Brown encouraged members of the LCMS to pray and to speak in defense of their right to maintain the definition of marriage. He also spoke one last time specifically to church workers, asking them to “continue the massive effort of teaching our youth about marriage, making clear in a winsome way why this is true and equipping people with the ability and courage to do that.”
The webinar is archived for viewing here.
Adriane Heins is executive editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Updated March 17, 2014