After court rulings this week, more Americans now live in states where same-sex marriage is legal than those who do not. A clear majority supports the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples and, according to polling data, has since at least 2011.
There are numerous factors that could be examined to understand why America embraced gay marriage – a shift in sexual morality, the abandonment of the entertainment industry and academia by many Christians, our inability to discuss the issue except in base level jokes (“God didn’t make Adam and Steve!”), etc.
Before all of those things, however, Christians had lost the debate before it even started. We delegitimized marriage ourselves and paved the way for the current arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.
Who knows when the moment will come that will signal the legalization of gay marriage across the United States. But the debate was essentially over when Christians allowed the focus of the husband and wife relationship to move away joint sacrifice and the up-bringing of children and toward the personal happiness of the individual.
At that moment, we lost any chance of ever winning a debate on the definition of marriage.
Because marriage then became all about me being happy. I could, and I should, leave whenever I feel like things are not turning out they way I wanted. The needs of my spouse, the impact on the children – all of that pales in comparison to the value of my feelings.
Of course, no one vocalizes it that way, but our behaviors and attitudes reveal our true viewpoint. Christians began to accept and perpetuate this in the way we lived and how we spoke of marriage.
We bought into the “romantic” picture of two individuals held together by some magic feelings, instead of the biblical reality, which is two people sacrificing and working hard to deepen those feelings to something much greater.
Instead of viewing children as an enriching gift and the natural, desired result of a marriage, many sought to have as few children as possible since kids could only limit the amount of “fun” the individuals could have.
Loving someone as Christ loved the church, submitting your personal desires to that of another, sacrificing for the sake of children is not “romantic.” It very rarely makes one happy, though it always makes one holy and brings true and lasting joy to a relationship – something much better than mere happiness, but much harder to explain in soundbites fit for modern culture.
When, instead of that, you behave as if marriage’s sole purpose is to bring you personal happiness, then of course you cease to have any rational grounding from which to argue against same-sex marriage. It become discriminatory to not allow gay individuals the same privilege of being happy and showing their feelings of love.
If it is merely about happiness, then what limits can legitimately be placed on it? Why would you stop at one man and one woman? Why even stop at two adults? What if three or more individuals make each other happy? What if someone really “loves” their pet dog?
If the foundation of a marriage is nothing but the happiness of the participants there can be no “defense of marriage.” There is only an argument that you should be happy and not another. That’s not a winning argument. In fact, it’s no argument at all.
If a Christian desires to see marriage upheld as an institution in society, he or she must first uphold it as an institution in their life.
We lost the marriage debate when we allowed the world to define marriage for us and place the emphasis on our personal happiness. The only hope we have of winning in the future is by reestablishing a proper understanding in our own lives and marriages.
Married Christian, love your spouse as if the fate of the entire institution rested on your relationship – because it does.