As arguments for traditional marriage fall on deaf ears in our culture, I believe that love requires us to make the case nevertheless (1 Cor. 13:6). To that end, we need to marshal all the arguments at our disposal—both biblical and natural law arguments. The natural law case has been made most effectively in the recent book What Is Marriage? This book makes the case without appealing to religious authority but with an exclusive appeal to a “publicly accessible” rationale for traditional marriage.
One of the co-authors of that book, Ryan Anderson, has also just recently published an article that distills the case for traditional marriage into twelve pages. It’s published by the Heritage Foundation, and it’s a resource that I heartily commend to you. It’s titled “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It.” Here’s the abstract:
Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.
Here’s an outline of the argument:
I. What Is Marriage?
Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces.
Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need a mother and a father.
Marriage as the union of man and woman is true across cultures, religions, and time. The government recognizes but does not create marriage.
Marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view of marriage that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs.
II. Why Marriage Matters for Policy
Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does.
Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. Marital breakdown weakens civil society and limited government.
Marital breakdown costs taxpayers.
Government can treat people equally—and leave them free to live and love as they choose—without redefining marriage.
We reap the civil society benefits of marriage only if policy gets marriage right.
Redefining marriage would put into the law the new principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is.
Redefining marriage would weaken monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—the norms through which marriage benefits society.
Redefining marriage threatens religious liberty.
III. The Future of Marriage