"We hold these truths to be self-evident." That line made sense to people at a time in history. It no longer resonates as clearly to many in this generation. Even the most basic presuppositions are up for grabs.
What is truth? What is a man? Woman? Life? Marriage?
Some have said homosexual marriage is an "irresistible force paradox" which is what happens when an unstoppable power meets an immovable object. The paradox arises because it rests on two premises that cannot both be true at once.
C.S. Lewis said that just as a lock and key are one mechanism and a violin and bow are one musical instrument, "the inventor of the human machine" tells us its two halves, male and female, were made to be combined in pairs.
The creation of man and woman, and their one-flesh union as husband and wife, is the crowning achievement of God's creation. Marriage was the first institution God created -- before civil government and even before the Church itself.
Paul, writing to the Ephesians, said that the "mystery is great" regarding the picture God presents of man/woman unification representing His ultimate purpose for creation. At the same time, we see with clarity that the attributes of man or woman alone couldn't fully explain the imago Dei, "image of God," imprinted on each of us. The true, full image of our Creator is expressed only when the two halves of humanity complement each other and become one.
How does this religious understanding of marriage relate to a secularized nation and the deep desire of same-sex couples to be given "equal justice" and access to an institution that pre-dates politics, church and culture? Are there non-spiritual reasons for defending marriage as a union between one man and one woman?
Marriage as an objective truth has core traits. Sexual complementarity between two adults. Exclusivity expressed through monogamy. Permanence as in "till death do us part." But now, as homosexual marriage dominoes across our country, these attributes are also up for grabs. If it no longer takes one man and one woman to create marriage, honest, consistent voices have to equally say that three or more individuals, even siblings or groups of people, fidelity and lifelong commitments are just as optional.
A liberal Oxford professor named Joseph Raz -- no conservative regarding sexual morality -- has rightly said, "monogamy, assuming that it is the only valuable form of marriage, cannot be practiced by an individual. It requires a culture which recognizes it, and which supports it through the public's attitude and through its formal institutions." Law is a reflection of culture but is also a teacher.
President Obama, before he "evolved" on marriage, said, "Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation." Did he really mean every father? If so, how can he logically now say that relationships purposefully created without a father or mother are identically beneficial? He and many others once recognized the unique contributions each gender makes to a family. It's no different now and will be no different in a hundred years.
In the case of marriage, politics is radically downstream from culture in many aspects. The very fact that we're debating the definition of an institution that undergirds all others shows we have much work to do. This is a pivotal and momentous opportunity. Remember this:
To those who say traditional marriage supporters are on the wrong side of history, one only needs to ask what most Americans were saying the morning after the Roe v. Wade decision. The Court had settled the issue. Can any thinking person now say that has actually happened? Younger Americans are probably more pro-life today than they were in 1973.
We have a monumental task ahead to build a culture that cherishes, articulates and models marriage for the common good. We also have an amazing opportunity to change the world in doing so.
Jim Minnery is president of the Alaska Family Council.
BY JIM MINNERY