Talking Marriage

by Peter Scaer

DC-Office-Marriage-LargeSecular Friend (SF): Gay marriage is quickly becoming the law of the land. It’s a good sign that our society is moving forward.

Lutheran (L): I think we’re headed for trouble. I believe that marriage is a lifelong union of one man and one woman. This basic definition has been a bedrock of civilization for millenia. Traditional marriage is spoken of by all the major religions as well as by ancient philosophers, and its advantages have been documented in modern social sciences. Traditional marriage is deeply rooted in who we are as human beings.

SF: But our nation is built on equality. Marriage is the civil rights issue of our time. A gay man or woman has just the same right to be married as you do. Anything else is unfair and bigoted.

L: We believe in equality, but we don’t believe in the interchangeability of the sexes. A black man and a white man are both men. There is no essential difference. And every person does have the same right to get married, but the question is, “What is marriage?” We believe that men and women are equal, but different. They complement one another physically, emotionally, psychologically. Social scientists have demonstrated that together a man and a woman provide the best possible environment for a child. Gay marriage, on the other hand, says that either a mother or a father is essentially dispensable and intentionally makes one superfluous.

SF: Aren’t you just imposing your religion on other people?

L: While Christ defines marriage as one man and one woman, I am now arguing from basic biology. Only the union of one man and one woman can produce a child. Every person has a pulmonary system, a cardiovascular system, a skeletal system and so forth. The only biological system that is incomplete in each of us is the reproductive system, which is whole and functional only in the union of one man and one woman. Every child has a biological mother and father. Marriage is the one institution that takes this biological fact seriously.

SF: But marriage is a personal choice.

L: Marriage is not simply a personal matter, but it is a public institution. Marriage calls upon men to take responsibility for their children. This ends up being good for both children and men. Likewise, traditional marriage is good for women, especially as it provides security and protection during pregnancy and the raising of children. Even in a world of sin and dysfunction, marriage works for the good of society.

SF: But people are already having children apart from marriage, and divorce is common.

L: Good point. Too many children do not even know who their father is. Marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. Mothers are always present at the birth of their children. We believe the father should be there too. Girls who grow up without fathers at home often lack security and self-esteem. Without a father’s love, girls too often end up looking for love in all the wrong places. Without fathers, boys are often left without good role models and have difficulty learning what it truly means to be a man. Too often they express their manhood in ways that are unhealthy for themselves and society. An intact traditional marriage is the leading indicator of a child’s well-being and healthy psychological development. Marriage is the best and least costly of all social programs.

SF: But wouldn’t it be better for a child to have two loving parents, whatever their sex might be?

L: Children are blessed by the protection and love of aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents and cousins. Traditional marriage establishes this network of support. On the other hand, two moms are not better than one. The mother-child relationship is one of a kind. The addition of an extra mother only adds confusion to the household, leaving a child with a dual and divided allegiance. Likewise, an extra father is confusing and can in no way substitute for the absence of a mother’s special nurturing love. A man and a woman balance one another and provide the best possible environment for raising a child.

SF: If marriage is about children, then why do we have marriage for older people who can no longer have children? What about couples who are infertile or choose not to have children?

L: The purpose of marriage is to obligate and incentivize the only union that can produce children and is best equipped to raise them. There are no are laws governing friendships. Friendships can be made and broken and don’t demand exclusivity. But society has a compelling interest in marriages that are permanent and exclusive. For good reason, a bride and groom vow to love only one another as long as they both shall live. While women are no longer able to have children past the age of menopause, men are typically able to become biological fathers indefinitely. Marriage is given to make sure that man fathers no other children apart from his own marriage. All marriages, whether a couple is fertile or infertile, provide models for young people to follow, and thus strengthen marriage as an institution. We need to realize that marriage is more than a contract between two people. Marriage is a public institution that promotes societal goods in a way that is both non-intrusive and beneficial for society as a whole.

SF: But isn’t this a matter of freedom?

L: Our basic liberties are at stake, but not in the way you might imagine. Increasingly, supporters of natural marriage are labeled as bigots and haters. Supporters of gay marriage are demanding more than tolerance. People who express differing views have increasingly been ostracized, some losing their jobs. Such intolerance threatens our schools and churches as well. There seems to be little place or sympathy for traditional Christian belief and practice. A movement that used to preach tolerance has become the epitome of intolerance.

SF: But how does gay marriage harm anyone?

L: The redefinition of marriage is a new thing, and the evidence is only just coming in. In a number of northern Europe countries where gay marriage was first introduced, the initial reports are that fewer and fewer people are getting married. As marriage is redefined, it seems to be losing its special honor. There also seems to be a shift in marital norms. When two men marry, they often describe their relationship as “monogamish,” which means they are sexually active not only with each other, but also with others. This is no aberration, but an openly accepted norm in the gay community. Lesbian marriages, while not as typically promiscuous, have proven thus far to be much more highly unstable. As marital values of exclusivity and permanence fall by the wayside, the government will have to step in even more to clean up the mess.

SF: Well, at least now that gay marriage is becoming the law of the land, the matter is settled, and we can move on to more important things.

L: There is hardly anything more important to society than marriage. There is nothing more important to a building than its foundation. But this is hardly the end of the matter. There is now no logical reason to deny marriage to polygamists and polyamorists. The term “thruple” has already become part of the common parlance. Polygamists are celebrated in television shows, and group marriage is discussed in the New York Times. Others are proposing temporary marriages. Even the practice of incest is surfacing its ugly head, as what was once unthinkable becomes commonplace. Marriage has not only been redefined; it has lost its logical definition and is open to endless change. In the end, children will be harmed. Whether you agree with me or not, my position is based on reason. I support traditional marriage because out of love for children and because it actually makes the world a better place to live.

The Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer is associate professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

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15 Responses to Talking Marriage

  1. John T. Moeller June 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    I love this idea of using Facebook to express our religious doctrine, and our support for what we know as using the word marriage in a sacred context, which is/was a gift from our Creator.

    The secular world might think they can take away religious freedom, but our Lord will keep telling us how to meet the public – even if we need to sit again at the city gates with a welcome sign. History is on our side as many people know the pendulum swings both ways.

    A blessing of the digital age might just be the peace and quiet when a person reads and has a quiet time to accept and new idea about TRUTH as known by a LCMS Christian ….

    • Craig Vickstrom June 13, 2015 at 10:11 am #

      Allowing non-hetero couples, triples, quadruples, etc. access to the civil marriage contract is not “taking away” anyone’s religious freedom. It is acknowledging the rights these people had all along, but were unjustly denied.

  2. Rebecca Brunner June 10, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Thank you for this article, as I work with a lot of people who are open to many different situations. This gives me some ideas and background information to base my opinion on.

  3. Elizabeth June 10, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    As someone who grew up an LCMS member, this is sickening to me. At 19, I consider myself to have very strong faith in the one true God that the Bible has taught me about. I went all through Lutheran grade school, continuing my faith education through high school and my first year of college. One thing that older generations of Lutherans need to understand is that for the most part, us younger members are much more accepting than our older counterparts. I cannot begin to express how sad this makes me that this is how my church feels. Granted, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when that opinion is presented as a belief of a church as a whole, when members do not necessarily believe it (like myself) it becomes intrusive and disrespectful. Do not misunderstand me Dr. Scaer, I respect your opinion and believe that you are entitled to it. It just frustrates me that this is presented as a belief of all LCMS Lutherans. Because I can assure you that is not the case. Also, to say that children are so much worse off because they grow up in a home without both a mother and a father is insulting to me as a child of divorce. Had my parents not split up, I would have grown up in a broken, angry home. My parents were unhappy and we were all suffering from it. I am sure you (or anyone) could say that that would have been a better situation for me. All I am saying is that this world is changing and though everyone is entitled too their own beliefs, the church needs to be mindful of said changes. I as a young member am seriously considering leaving the church because of the archaic beliefs expressed in this article in order to find a more inclusive, understanding church. That devastates me.

    • Lin June 11, 2015 at 10:29 am #

      Elizabeth, I am an “old” LCMS member and do agree with you that the rationale and reasoning used by Dr. S. is NOT valid, makes no sense nor has statistical support, and is not a reflection of our Christian church. I am not a supporter of gay marriage, simply on the basis that I believe this is not a practice instituted by God. Instead, it may be a building block in a wall we build that separates us from His grace, as all sin does. I am not worthy to condemn or judge anyone. I do believe, as Christians, that we must continually show our love for all people and pray that God will continue to bless their lives and lead them in knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ.

      Please keep your faith strong in knowing that the saving loving of Christ is the only measure of our lives.

      • Jena Gorham June 11, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

        Fantastic comment. That is my feeling about this article. “Do not subtract or ADD anything to the word of God” this article ADDs a lot! a lot of stuff that goes past what the bible says- majority of it is pure opinion.
        I personally don t think marriage should be regulated by the government. It is s religious institution instituted by God. Civil unions are what the government should regulate- if anything.
        I do not believe God sanctioned Homosexuality or gay marriage.

    • Val June 11, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

      Elizabeth when we are really a Bible based Christians our focus would be on what God says (which is the same in all era’s of time, His word doesn’t change to conform to the world) not the world.
      Judging is for God, we need to love each other and guide each other in the ways of the Lord. I pray that we all can stay focused on God’s plan and be completely devoted to serving Him and His people. When we pray and seek God He will always reveal to us what is right or wrong (because He dwells in our hearts when we believe in Him )We are either for Him or against Him.
      God bless and guide us to make choices according to His will.

    • Sharon June 12, 2015 at 12:02 am #

      I’m sadden here…THE TRUE WORD of God not the author’s opinion is reflected in this article……you cannot be Christian and be more accepting of the world, modern society and how it is shaping up into ignoring The Word of God for The True Word will NEVER change…. God is Our Creator, we belong to Him…It is our Lord and Savior who went to the cross to pay our ransom, this beautiful love which transcends our ability to even comprehend…. We are so broken by sins…. I do not know Why so many finding offending Jesus so easy and His sacrifice for the sins of the world to be so meaningless just to be accepting of the world and how little respect for God’s creation????We were created male and female and by design to be a compliment to each …it is written what a marriage is…it is there for our own good….you cannot rewrite scripture… You cannot change nature…Please pray for strength in your faith… Re read the Bible..do not let the flesh be your guide… Look to Jesus and His Holy Word and see the devil, the evil foe, in how he is using weakness in the knowledge of scripture to make sin look harmless and right…it will destroy … Don’t be deceived… Don’t use excuses that old LCMS members are unaccepting… It is those regardless of age who ignore God’s Word who are unaccepting of the sacrifice of Jesus,His Grace…and are on the paved road to destruction…

    • Jason June 12, 2015 at 6:53 am #

      Dear Elizabeth,

      You are a child of God and I love you as a sister. Because I love you, I must be honest with you, even when it is hard. I hear your struggle. I read your anguish. I see your anger. People are uncomfortable with the idea of sin (as they should be). No one enjoys having their sins lit up like the neon lights of Times Square. That being said, it does not eliminate the fact that sin exists and we are all sinful in our own ways. There is sin and there is grace. There is law and there is gospel.

      We must focus on the law, how we violate the law through sin and how we are doomed to Hell while we are comfortable with our own sins. When we realize how we are turning our face away from God and His commandments and we are desperately uncomfortable in that state, then we can focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ and that every sinner has forgiveness through belief in Him. In this we can rejoice. And then we are charged to go forth and sin no more (which we shall certainly fail in this regard and be forced to repeat our repentance).

      Homosexuality is a sin. Adultery is a sin. Divorce can be a sin. Pride is a sin. And the list goes on. We all fail in some way. I, like you, am the product of a marriage that ended in divorce. I do not know the underlying reasons why they divorced, and frankly, I do not want to. I know that God saw fit to have each of my parents re-marry and I was blessed with two families and multiple brothers and sisters that I would never have known had they remained together. This does not eliminate the likely sin in my parents’ divorce. I love them nonetheless. It is not my place to judge my parents’ immortal souls. That is for one triune God. It is sufficient that I love them despite their imperfections, just as I hope they love me despite my imperfections.

      You mention “archaic beliefs” and how the world is “changing.” There are two problems I have with this: (1) The “archaic beliefs” you say are being expressed are based on the Word of God contained within the Holy Bible; and (2) The world is “changing” in the sense that there are ebbs and flows in righteousness and shifting political winds, but human nature has never changed from the time that Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

      To the first point, the Word of God is eternal. The scriptures cannot be molded to fit our human ideas of what should or should not be. This is a mistake of substituting our own will for God’s will. It is the sin of pride and arrogance. As humans we may not like what God tells us from time to time, but we should not openly disobey his commandments on penalty of relinquishment of our souls to the enemy. The Bible is littered with stories of people disobeying God. It never ends well.

      To the second point, human nature has never changed. Cain killed Abel. The world was destroyed by a great flood because of the rampant nature of sin. Sexual immorality was flourishing in Sodom and Gomorrah requiring the destruction of those cities. From a historical perspective it is believed that Jesus walked the earth from approximately 4 BC to approximately AD 30. During this time, the Roman Empire reigned supreme and modern day Israel was essentially a Roman province. Prostitution, homosexuality, pedophilia, adultery and other sexual sins were, in large part, accepted practices in society. It was Jews and the followers of Christ who stood out as condemning these practices.

      So you see, human nature was the same then, as now. Christians condemned the practices then, as now, because that is what God commanded by his Word and His Word is eternal and unchanging. While I understand the mindset from which you are speaking, your comments lack a contextual understanding of the scripture and of history.

      It is not our job to be “inclusive” by making people comfortable in their sin. It is our job as Christians to be “inclusive” by explaining that God loves all his children, but hates our sin. The good news is that there is love and forgiveness for all those that repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God. I love you and I pray for you. I pray you stay with our church. More importantly, I pray you follow God’s will wherever He takes you.

  4. Craig Vickstrom June 10, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

    There is nothing wrong with a belief in monogamous, hetero marriage. If that is what you believe personally, and that is what your church believes, fine. But religious beliefs have no place in a secular society. Advocating against denying non-hetero people their right to a civil contract, in a court of law, is bigotry and spite. Hetero couples lose nothing by having homo couples get married. How the LCMS has hammered and hammered on this issue online, while leaving the issues of greed, wealth accumulation and poverty ignored, has made me ashamed to be an LCMS Lutheran.

    • Jena Gorham June 11, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

      Well said.

  5. Dan Sheppard June 10, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    Dr. Scare has written a very effective piece here. The corrosion of society seems to be ignored by those secular humanists.

  6. Jason Traxler June 10, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    The Lutheran presents sound logic, while the argument of the secular friend reflects the empty mantra of the LGBT community.
    The LGBT community does not only present an empty argument, but is also a much smaller percentage of the population than the mass media would have us believe. Federal judges have ambushed the overwhelming majority of the population by forcing same sex marriage on populations that have rejected it. Same sex marriage is the pathway to perdition. It is a slippery slope that society may well regret.

  7. Carol Sherrill June 12, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    Thank you! These have been my “debating . points,” but the SF just keeps coming. Patience, prayer, and what’s best for children, family, and faith.

    • David Seifferlein June 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

      Been done before. When sin becomes popular enough, we legalize it.

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