“If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”
This was always my parents’ equally prudent and absurd retort to my youthful protestations of their rules with an appeal to the majority: “All my friends are doing it!” To their credit, they were right. Going with the majority is not always the best course, and in fact rarely is in matters of great significance.
So it is with so-called “same-sex marriage” — which is distinct from homosexuality generally in that marriage is a sacred institution, established by God as a covenant between one man and one woman for the purpose of family formation and recognized by the government. The Supreme Court discovered a right to same-sex “marriage” in the Constitution in 2015; these unions have thus been granted all the marital benefits of couples who perpetuate societal growth through procreation; and the media have assured everyone that it’s an issue that almost everybody has “long since decided was uncontroversial.”
In many ways, it is. Since 2015, Americans, including even many of those under the conservative label, have gone along to get along — patronizing very “pride-y” establishments, celebrating the unions of their gay friends, and keeping quiet about the issue at best. The latest Gallup poll on the matter, released last month, shows support for same-sex marriage is up one point from last year to a new high of 71 percent, with weekly churchgoers being the primary remaining holdouts.
But with the reversal of Roe v. Wade and in a panic before the midterms, Democrats are rushing to enshrine a right to gay marriage into law (as if there are no other pressing issues they should focus on) — and Republicans are falling for it. On Tuesday, a whopping 47 Republicans in the House sided with Democrats in supporting the ill-named Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify a right for gay couples to marry.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he intends to bring it for a vote in his chamber, and a few Republicans have already signaled their support in the 50-50 split Senate, but many of the rest of them are on the fence. Although support for same-sex marriage isn’t exactly a conservative ideal (though a majority of Republicans now support it), the “all my friends are doing it” impulse — paired with a general lack of conservative principles among our power-motivated legislators — already caused 47 GOP representatives to jump off the cliff, and the same temptation is coming for cagey senators.
As Slate put it: “Gay Marriage: Senate Republicans Have No Idea What To Do About The Respect For Marriage Act.”
Well, since they have “no idea what to do” — and since the conservative response to this alarming House vote has been weak while peer pressure is strong — here’s a suggestion: Resist the urge to leap into the abyss, and instead keep your feet firmly planted on the solid ground that is traditional marriage.
Cue the bigot smears, but remember — we aren’t talking about shipping gays off to conversion therapy, “erasing” them from society, or criminalizing their personal lives. This is about the one very specific arena of marriage, and it’s OK to oppose the majority on this one. And thus it’s OK to oppose this piece of marriage-centric legislation.
First, marriage matters. It matters to the government, with traditional marriage rightly having distinct legal protections as the only union that naturally produces children — for the sake of whom those marriages should remain intact. The government has no interest in people’s sexual behaviors except if those behaviors produce children, who are vulnerable for some 20 years of their lives and therefore must be legally protected in ways adults don’t need to be. The legal protection children require is marriage, and thus marriage is not a sanction of any form of adult sexuality or affection but about children. And since same-sex relationships by nature cannot produce children, they don’t need government involvement.
But marriage matters for so many other things too, not least of which are physical health and wellness, societal flourishing, home building, and financial planning. It also matters to the God who created it — so it matters not what most people think.
Jack Phillips didn’t care what the majority thought when he kindly served gay customers yet declined to celebrate a same-sex marriage by designing a wedding cake. Neither did Barronelle Stutzman, who made friends with a frequent gay customer but couldn’t in good conscience participate in his homosexual wedding even though it meant losing almost everything. They know marriage matters, and in their courage and conviction, they refused to jump off the cliff. Cowardly lawmakers who would go along with the majority on the Respect for Marriage Act would take another hacksaw to the lives and business of these two and so many others like them, whose First Amendment rights would just be further eroded by contrived rights.
Second, it isn’t a slippery-slope fallacy to recognize the ways in which the goalposts have shifted since Obergefell. What was once “two consenting adults in the bedroom” has become in-your-face, LGBT-positive programming for schoolchildren. The right to marry has become the right to adopt a child. And “accept us” has become “affirm us.” So far, anywhere “sexual orientation” has come to be foisted on the public, “gender identity” is sure to follow, and there’s no reason to believe Congress codifying a federal “right” to marry won’t spawn a federal “right” to any sex-specific space you so choose or the castration of children, doctors’ consciences be damned.
There isn’t room here to rehash all the reasons why marriages with one man and one woman who bear children together are the best building blocks for society, nor to get into all the reasons Christians must be firm on the sanctity of the institution amid character assassinations. But our lawmakers in Washington would be wise to remember that going along to get along has never been the true conservative’s way. And just because everyone is hurling themselves off the cliff doesn’t mean you should too.