Author archives: Peter Sprigg

Anti-Spanking Zealots Need a Timeout

by Peter Sprigg

March 23, 2009

Yet another “study” by a long-time anti-spanking researcher has been released by an anti-spanking advocacy group. Not surprisingly, the study is anti-spanking. Ironically, though, the research did not focus on spanking at all, but on “physical punishment.” The study explicitly lumps together words like “spank,” “slap,” “beat,” “punch,” and “whip,” treating them as if they are all the same thing. There is a huge difference between the ordinary disciplinary spanking practiced by most parents and all these other forms of “physical punishment,” which can more easily be abusive. Defining the issue this way makes the study useless for identifying the actual impact of “spanking” as such. The key both to the effectiveness of parental discipline (including spanking) and its effect on the child (whether positive or negative) lies in how the discipline is undertaken in its larger context, not simply what disciplinary tool is used. Studies have actually shown that a disciplinary style that balances firm control (including spanking) with positive encouragement results in the best outcomes for children. It’s clear that the long-term goal of these anti-spanking zealots is a legal ban on all spanking that would treat it as “assault” and a “human rights violation.” This is an intrusion into parental rights that Americans should not tolerate.

Arizona Republic report on new study of “physical punishment”

Spare the Rod? The Research Challenges Spanking Critics,” by Den Trumbull, M.D. and S. DuBose Ravenel, M.D.

http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS07K02

School Choice is Key to Parental Involvement in Education, not Punishment

by Peter Sprigg

February 21, 2009

A Kentucky state legislator, Rep. Adam Koenig, has introduced a bill that would impose fines on parents who don’t attend parent-teacher conferences. [Source]

Rep. Koenig is certainly right that parental involvement in their children’s education is important, but this hardly seems the right way of encouraging it.

It might be better to use a carrot, rather than a stick. Instead of imposing on parents we should be empowering them, by expanding school choice. That could include magnet schools, charter schools, vouchers, tax breaks for private schools, and support for homeschooling. Giving parents real choices about their children’s education would be more effective that just forcing them to show up for a meeting.

A law like this (if adopted) would seem to be a case of the government punishing people simply for not being very good parents. We should be wary of any policy that involves the government interfering with the autonomy of the family in that way-by deciding what it thinks a “good” parent is, and punishing people who don’t live up to the government’s standard.

Obviously, government has to intervene when parents abuse their children, by beating them, for instance, or neglect them by failing to feed and clothe them. But missing a parent-teacher conference hardly seems to rise to that level. Koenig reportedly compared the fines to those imposed on parents who fail to insure that their children attend school. But we shouldn’t be treating parents like children by making the parents go to school.

On a practical level, it should be noted that face-to-face parent-teacher conferences are not the only means of communication available between parents and the school. They can use the phone, email, or even handwritten notes to and from the teacher. For families with two working parents or with younger children at home, or for single parents, it may be very difficult to find time to go in for a parent-teacher conference, yet they may still be very involved in their children’s education. We simply shouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all solution.

The God of Gene Robinson’s Understanding

by Peter Sprigg

January 17, 2009

The homosexual Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson will offer a prayer at a pre-inauguration event at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. Here’s part of what he told National Public Radio about his preparation (thanks to David Brody of CBN for this link.):

Robinson: I have actually read back over the inaugural prayers of the last 30 or 40 years and frankly I’ve been shocked at how aggressively Christian they are. And my intention is not to invoke the name of Jesus but to make this a prayer for Christians and non-Christians alike. Although I hold the scripture to be the word of God, those scriptures are holy to me and Jews and Christians, but to many other faith traditions they have their own sacred texts. And so rather than insert that and really exclude them from the prayer by doing so, I want this to be a prayer to the god of our many understandings and a prayer that all people of faith can join me in.

 

NPR Host: The god of many understandings?

Robinson: “Yes. I was treated for alcoholism three years ago and grateful to be sober today. And one of the things that I’ve learned in 12 step programs is this phrase, ‘the god of my understanding’. It allows people to pray to a God of really many understandings. And let’s face it, each one of us has a different understanding of God. No one of us can fully understand God or else God wouldn’t be God.”

NPR Host: I’m not sure that a God of many understandings has been invoked at an inauguration before?

Robinson: Well, I’ve done a lot of things for the first time in my life and I will be proud to do this one.

Let me note a couple of things here. Robinson says he is shocked at how aggressively Christian” inaugural prayers” of the last 30 or 40 years” have been. Forty years ago would have been the inauguration of Richard Nixon, which was probably the first inauguration I ever watched, and I think I’ve watched all but two of them (when I was overseas) since. I haven’t actually done the research Robinson has, but I don’t remember any as “aggressively Christian.” My impression is that prayers at such events tend to be blandly, generically monotheistic, while perhaps also being “aggressively” patriotic. Giving an altar call would be “aggressively Christian.” Simply praying “in Jesus’ name,” or quoting from the Bible, is not.

Secondly-does it strike anyone else as odd that a Christian clergyman, a bishop no less, takes his theology from a twelve-step program? Such programs have helped a lot of people, and I’m glad Bishop Robinson got help for his alcoholism-but didn’t the man ever go to seminary? A Christian seminary, even?

Robinson is right in a certain sense when he says, “No one of us can fully understand God or else God wouldn’t be God.” But Christians believe that our own incapacity as finite humans to figure out God on our own is the very reason why God took the initiative to reveal himself to us, both in the person of Jesus and in the words of Scripture. That’s where Christian theology goes beyond the twelve-step theology.

With that said, though, Bishop Robinson seems to be mis-applying even the twelve-step theology. The idea is for each individual to pray to “the god of my understanding.” That is not the same as one individual praying to “a God of many understandings,” which is what Robinson is pledging to do.

I would submit that when a Christian clergyman prays at a public event “in Jesus’ name,” he is doing exactly what the twelve-step program calls for-praying to the “[G]od of [his] understanding.” It is those who would deny him that right-not the Christian clergyman-who are guilty of the worst form of intolerance.

Judge Lederman’s Top Ten List: Bad Arguments for Homosexual Parenting

by Peter Sprigg

January 12, 2009

After seven years of working on the issue of homosexuality at the Family Research Council, I think I have a pretty good sense of the arguments that pro-homosexual activists use in support of their agenda, such as affirmation of homosexual parents and same-sex “marriage.” Even when those arguments are made well, they are unconvincing-but when they are made poorly, it just leaves me shaking my head.

One example of this phenomenon-bad arguments made badly-got a lot of attention recently. That was the Newsweek cover story on “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage,” penned by the magazine’s religion editor Lisa Miller. It was so poorly researched and poorly reasoned that Miller should lose her job for it-not because she is in error, but because she is incompetent. Some political writer posting on a blog might get away with the kind of sloppiness Miller showed-but a “religion editor” writing a cover story should not be allowed to. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and I wrote in detail about the Newsweek story on December 9.

Another example of a bad pro-homosexual argument badly made drew less attention, in part because of timing. On November 25-just two days before Thanksgiving-a Miami-Dade County judge in Florida, Cindy S. Lederman, issued a ruling declaring that state’s law barring homosexuals from adopting children to be a violation of the Florida constitution. The ruling came despite the fact that in 2004, the federal courts rejected a similar challenge to the same law. Lederman’s 53-page decision can be found here.

I am no longer surprised when a judge merely regurgitates the arguments typically offered by pro-homosexual activists, instead of engaging in an open-minded and thoughtful analysis. Such regurgitation is exactly what was done by the judges who voted to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. But when a judge does not just explain away the evidence against the pro-homosexual position, but essentially denies that it even exists, then you know that the fix was in from the start.

Let me explain how the debate over homosexual parenting usually plays out, and how Judge Lederman went even beyond the normal pro-homosexual talking points.

One of the key arguments in favor of allowing homosexual parenting usually goes something like this: “There’s no proof that children raised by homosexuals do any worse than children raised by heterosexuals.” That they are able to make this claim with any degree of plausibility is due to only one fact-virtually all of the studies that have been conducted specifically of homosexual parents have suffered from such grave methodological flaws that they cannot be said to provide definitive “proof” of much of anything, one way or the other.

It is extremely difficult to get a truly random sample of the homosexual population, simply because that population is so small. The best surveys show that only about two percent of the population identifies as homosexual or bisexual (and only about one percent of couples sharing households). Therefore, scholars doing research on homosexuality often have to rely on “convenience samples”-for example, by advertising for study participants in publications catering to homosexuals. In the case of homosexual parents, it seems likely that those whose children are suffering serious problems would be less likely to volunteer, while those who do volunteer may be motivated by a desire to prove a point, and put only their best foot forward. Such a sample is likely to yield a more positive picture of homosexual parents than a truly random sample would.

Going hand-in-hand with the “no proof” claim is the “no differences” claim-the assertion that the research shows “no differences” between children raised by homosexuals and those raised by heterosexuals. Yet this claim has been decisively refuted by a source whose credibility on the issue is enhanced by her clear lack of bias against homosexuals-namely, the militantly pro-homosexual researcher Judith Stacey. Her 2001 article in American Sociological Review (with co-author Timothy J. Biblarz) conclusively refutes the “no differences” claim, noting that the research actually shows that children of lesbians are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior, daughters of lesbians are “more sexually adventurous and less chaste,” and lesbian “co-parent relationships” are more likely to break up than heterosexual marriages. Stacey does not consider these differences to be problematic, but others will certainly disagree. In essence, Stacey’s article confirms that advocates and many researchers themselves have been simply lying when they make the “no differences” claim.

Lederman’s decision mentions the Stacey and Biblarz article in a footnote, and notes her pro-homosexual position, but it fails to even mention the significance of the article in refuting the “no differences” claim. Instead Lederman merely repeats the discredited claim, declaring, “These reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children” (p. 37 of the decision). Yet she goes even further. After repeating the (discredited) claim that there are “no differences,” she goes well beyond the narrowly defensible claim that the research provides “no proof” of negative outcomes, and instead makes a sweeping assertion that “based on the robust nature of the evidence in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise.”

To call the evidence “robust” on this matter is an exaggeration that should be embarrassing even to the pro-homosexual activists themselves. A detailed literature review of 49 studies on homosexual parenting reported:

Some major problems uncovered in the studies include the following:

Unclear hypotheses and research designs

Missing or inadequate comparison groups

Self-constructed, unreliable and invalid measurements

Non-random samples, including participants who recruit other participants

Samples too small to yield meaningful results

Missing or inadequate statistical analysis

Lerner and Nagai found at least one fatal research flaw in all forty-nine studies. As a result, they conclude that no generalizations can reliably be made based on any of these studies. For these reasons the studies are no basis for good science or good public policy.

Lederman’s own account of the testimony of one witness for the petitioner, however, contradicts the “no differences” claim in at least one crucial area-namely, the sexuality of young people raised by homosexual parents. Lederman notes on p. 17 that “one study revealed that female children raised by lesbians were more sexually active” and also said that “children raised by lesbian mothers expressed openness to considering same sex attraction.” But the witness, English psychologist  Michael Lamb, reportedly dismissed these findings as representing merely “a lesson in promoting tolerance” and showing that “children raised by lesbians are less strictly tied to sexual roles and rigid applications of sex roles.”

The principal case against homosexual parenting, however, is not based so much on the limited, methodologically deficient studies of homosexual parents as such. Instead, it is based on inferences to be drawn from two other bodies of research that are, indeed, “robust” in their findings. One is the evidence that homosexuality itself is associated with high levels of a number of pathologies-sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. The second is the overwhelming body of evidence showing that in general, children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to each other in a lifelong marriage. When these two bodies of evidence are juxtaposed upon each other, they provide more than sufficient reason for alarm about deliberately placing children with homosexual parents (for example, through foster care or adoption). Let’s look at these two factors individually.

Pro-homosexual activists usually do not deny that homosexuals have higher physical and  mental health risks-the evidence is simply too overwhelming. In fact, one of the most succinct summaries of those risks can be found on the website of the pro-homosexual Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Here are some of the GLMA’s warnings about homosexual men:

That men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection is well known . . .”

Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population, and not just in larger communities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.”

Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than in the general population.”

Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver known as hepatitis.”

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in sexually active gay men at a high rate.”

Although more recent studies have improved our understanding of alcohol use in the gay community, it is still thought that gay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse than straight men.”

Recent studies seem to support the notion that gay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men . . .”

Problems with body image are more common among gay men than their straight counterparts, and gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.”

[H]uman papilloma virus [HPV] … infections may play a role in the increased rates of anal cancers in gay men.”

Although the health risks for lesbians are not as dramatic as those for homosexual men, they are still significant:

Lesbians have the richest concentration of risk factors for breast cancer than any subset of women in the world.”

Lesbians have higher risks for many of the gynecologic cancers.”

Research confirms that lesbians have higher body mass than heterosexual women.”

Research also indicates that lesbians may use tobacco and smoking products more often than heterosexual women use them.”

Alcohol use and abuse may be higher among lesbians.”

Research indicates that lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.”

Since the evidence is so overwhelming, the usual explanation offered by pro-homosexual activists for the mental health problems (and sexual risk-taking, which leads to physical health problems) of homosexuals is to blame society’s negative attitudes toward homosexual conduct. For example, the GLMA list offers this explanation for higher rates of depression and anxiety among lesbians: “Lesbians have been shown to experience chronic stress from homophobic discrimination.”

However, instead of offering this stock answer (“Homophobia made me do it!”) to the mental health problems of homosexuals, Judge Lederman baldly denied that such problems exist at all, declaring that “expert witnesses” had shown that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts” (p. 10).

Yet a detailed footnote (footnote #8, p. 14) giving actual statistics shows a completely different story. For example it states that rates of “major depression” are more than twice as high among homosexual men than among heterosexual men (17% to 8%). Rates of smoking are 47% higher among bisexual men than among heterosexual men (28% to 19%; rates for homosexual men are not given), and 77% higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (23% to 13%). Rates of alcohol dependency are 42% higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (9.2% to 6.5%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (9% to 2.7%). Rates of drug dependency are two and a half times higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (7.5% to 3%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (5% to 1.5%). “Suicide attempts” are twice as high among homosexual men as among heterosexual men (5.6% to 2.8%), and they are more than twice as high among lesbian or bisexual women as among heterosexual woman (11% to 4.5%). Meanwhile, the “lifetime history of suicide attempts” (presumably measured in a different study) is more than three times as high among homosexuals as among heterosexuals (14% to 4.5%).

It may be that we should not place too much weight upon the specific statistics cited in Footnote 8, because they include several illogical anomalies, perhaps resulting from the conflation of data from different studies. For example, the data on “major depression” report that the rate for “men” (5%) is significantly lower than the rate for both homosexual and heterosexual men (17% and 8%, respectively)! On the other hand, the data for “smoking” indicate that the rate for “men” (36.4%) is higher than the rate for both bisexual and heterosexual men (28% and 19%)-it hardly seems likely that the population of homosexual men (omitted from the list) would be large enough to raise the total figure so dramatically. On the female side in the smoking category, the rate listed for “women” (23%) is the same as that listed for lesbians, but significantly higher than that listed for heterosexual women (13%), even though the latter are the overwhelming majority of all women.

The mere fact that such manifest absurdities were included in the decision demonstrates the carelessness and incompetence of Judge Lederman. But even when taken with a substantial grain of salt, the data certainly provide no support whatsoever for her claim that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts.”

In fact, the internal contradictions of Judge Lederman’s opinion are illustrated by the fact that she later abandons the “no more susceptible” claim, citing another expert witness on page 14 as concluding that “the average rates of psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking are [emphasis added] slightly higher for homosexuals than heterosexuals” (though rates that range from 42% to 233% higher, as indicated in Footnote 8 on the same page, would seem to be more than “slight” differences). Instead of denying the differerences altogether (as on p. 10), Lederman shifts to another argument, suggesting that there are other demographic groups that also have higher rates of “psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking” than the general population, including “American-Indians,” “the unemployed,” and “non-high school graduates.”

This comparison, however, is flawed because homosexual conduct is not an innate characteristic like race, an involuntary characteristic like unemployment, nor a socioeconomic characteristic like educational attainment. It is a behavioral characteristic, defined by the voluntary choice to engage in specific behaviors, namely sexual acts with people of the same sex.

By way of comparison: if the research shows that women are more likely to get breast cancer than men, that cannot logically be taken as proof that women are inherently inferior to men, because one’s biological sex is an innate and involuntary condition. On the other hand, if research shows that cigarette smokers are more likely to get breast cancer than non-smokers, such a finding can logically be taken as evidence that not smoking is better than smoking, because smoking is a voluntary behavior with demonstrable negative consequences.

Much of the homosexual rights movement as a whole rests on deliberate obfuscation of this point. That is, it rests on the effort to portray homosexuality (falsely) as an innate characteristic like race or sex, instead of as what it is-a voluntary behavior, like smoking, that has clear negative consequences.

When it comes to the findings that children do best when raised by their own, biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, most pro-homosexual activists do not try to deny the overwhelming evidence. Instead, they generally will point out that most of the studies on which this conclusion is based involve comparisons with single-parent families or divorced families, rather than with homosexual couples as such.

Judge Lederman, however, was not content to dismiss this evidence as not being directly relevant, the way most pro-homosexual activists do. Instead, she dismissed it altogether. Citing Dr. Lamb for authority, she declares that “researchers once believed that traditional families provided the best environment for children. As the research developed, however, the notion was proven to be flawed …” (p. 15). She concludes her summary of Lamb’s testimony with two other statements, also false, stating that “the assumption that children need a mother and a father in order to be well adjusted is outdated and not supported by the research,” and making the absurd claim that “there is a well established and generally accepted consensus in the field that children do not need a parent of each gender to adjust healthily” (p. 18).

The truth is exactly the opposite. For instance, the non-partisan think tank Child Trends surveyed the literature and found, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.” To the argument (often advanced by homosexual activists) that it is merely having the support of two parents that matters, Child Trends added, “Children growing up with stepparents also have lower levels of well-being than children growing up with biological parents. Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.”

In similar fashion, Lederman denies that homosexual partnerships are more unstable than heterosexual marriage-then includes a footnote showing exactly the opposite. Footnote #4 on p. 11 cites one study (apparently from Europe) showing that “same sex couples in civil unions” had break-up rates 41 % higher than married heterosexuals (3.8% to 2.7%), while “same sex couples not in civil union” [sic] had rates more than three times higher (9.3%). It cites another study from Sweden in which the break-up rates for “gay male registered partnerships” were 75% higher than for married heterosexuals (14% to 8%), and the rates for “lesbian registered partnerships” were two and a half times higher (20%). She also cites an old (1970) study that showed that just in the first two years of a relationship, the break-up rates for “gay men” were four times higher than for married heterosexuals (16% to 4%), and the rates for lesbians were five and a half times higher (22%).

I won’t even go into the blatant religious bigotry expressed by Judge Lederman, who dismissed the testimony of two experts for the state on the basis of their having written for religious publications. James A. Smith, Sr. of the Florida Baptist Witness has already written on that aspect of Lederman’s decision here.

Lederman’s decision was not only poorly reasoned, but poorly written, being riddled with non sequitirs and punctuation errors. Take this passage on whether homosexuality is a mental disorder, for example: “Today, Dr. Berlin reports that leading professionals agree that homosexuality defines one’s same sex attraction only. [?] According to the witness, homosexuality was removed from the DSM because the evidence of [for?] it’s [sic] classification as a disorder did not justify the conclusion.”

While Judge Lederman’s decision was a comedy of errors, it is no laughing matter. One can only hope that this atrocious decision will be overturned on appeal.

Newsweek, or Opinion Weak?

by Peter Sprigg

December 10, 2008

Newsweek has declared war on marriage. That is the only way to interpret its publishing a lengthy cover story by Lisa Miller that rehashes a laundry list of unoriginal arguments in favor of same-sex “marriage.” There are so many logical and theological errors in this piece that we felt it deserved a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal. FRC’s President, Tony Perkins, and Vice President for Policy, the Rev. Peter Sprigg, collaborated in preparing this piece

 

Passages in bold below are quotes from the Newsweek article; following each is a rebuttal/response.

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does… .  Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel-all these fathers and heroes were polygamists.

There is a difference between how the Bible defines marriage and how it depicts it in all it’s sin-corrupted reality. It is defined in the creation:

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man… .  24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22, 24, NASB)

The accounts of the lives of the Patriarchs, like Abraham, Jacob and David make abundantly clear that deviations from the model of one man one woman led to a multitude of personal and societal problems. 

 “The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments-especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust.”

Neither Jesus nor Paul were indifferent to marriage or familial ties-they simply gave priority to unhindered service to God.  Jesus’ first recorded miracle was at a wedding, which is hard to see as a non-endorsement of the institution.  Paul taught extensively on proper family relationships, especially of those of husbands and wives and fathers and children (Eph 5:22-6:4).  To somehow infer that Paul was indifferent to marriage is a denial of reality.  Paul was also very clear on one man one woman marriage (1 Tim 3:2, 12).  There was a reason for Paul’s repeated focus on marriage - marriage is central to the gospel because it is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church the bride.  He instructs husbands to follow the manner of Christ and give themselves for the benefit of their wives (Eph 5:25).  It is incomprehensible that Paul would say same-sex marriage reflected the life-giving, hope-filled union of Christ and His bride. 

Of course, marriage was not mandatory in the New Testament-nor is it for social conservatives today. Jesus and Paul both upheld celibacy-as the only acceptable alternative to fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman. The same value is upheld by the modern abstinence movement.

First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”

This is flatly false. See again Genesis 2:

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man… .  24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22, 24, NASB)

This was explicitly affirmed by Jesus himself, as recorded in two of the gospels:

3Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6”So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6, NASB)

2Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6”But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7”FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9”What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 10In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12, NASB)

Paul also twice affirms one man one woman marriage as a condition for church leadership (although it is somewhat unclear whether he is contrasting it with polygamy or with divorce and remarriage):

1It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach …  (I Timothy 3: 1-2, NASB)

5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. (Titus 1:5-6, NASB)

Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married-and a number of excellent reasons why they should.”

The Bible is a “living document” only because it is the Word of God, inspired by the living Holy Spirit, not because we have been given license to ignore its plain teachings to compromise with the spirit of the present age instead. Everywhere that Scripture refers to marriage (even the polygamous ones), it is a male-female union, and everywhere that Scripture refers to homosexual conduct, it either condemns it in the strongest possible terms or at the very least casts it in a negative light. (Note: there is not one shred of evidence that the love between David and Jonathan was sexual in nature.)

Social conservatives point to Adam and Eve as evidence for their one man, one woman argument-in particular, this verse from Genesis: ‘Therefore shall a man leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.’ But as Segal says, if you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world.

That is true, so if these men wanted to cover their tracks, would they not have tried to create cover for their ideas of marriage by saying it was God’s idea?  Rather it is made clear that is a singular union.  And by the way, God’s model of marriage was designed prior to the fall of man.  

Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament either. The biblical Jesus was-in spite of recent efforts of novelists to paint him otherwise-emphatically unmarried. He preached a radical kind of family, a caring community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties. Leave your families and follow me, Jesus says in the gospels.”

Yes, Jesus was definitely unmarried, and it is true that the “bond in God superseded all blood ties.” But “leave your families and follow me” is a rather simplistic paraphrase. Jesus’ disciples James and John, adult men, leave their father’s fishing business when Jesus calls them (Matt. 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20), and Jesus admonished one questioner who wants to “bury my father” not to delay in following him (Matt. 8:19-22, Luke 9:59-62). The most sweeping statement of this nature made by Jesus is recorded in Mark 10:28-30 (paralleled by Luke 18:28-30):

28Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. (NASB)

It is not clear whether “children” here actually refers to minors; and none of these passages speaks of leaving one’s spouse. How Miller can conclude that adult sons leaving home to pursue their own calling undermines the traditional nuclear family is not really clear.

Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce . . .”

This is undoubtedly because Jesus encountered many more people who were tempted by easy divorce than he did people who were tempted by homosexuality. The whole argument that “Jesus never mentions homosexuality,” and therefore that he must have tolerated it, is ridiculous on its face. Jesus never mentions rape or child sexual abuse, but that can hardly be interpreted to mean that he condoned them. As with those sexual sins, he may have felt that homosexuality was so clearly offensive that there was no point in stating the obvious.

A more precise exegetical point is this. There certainly are parts of the Old Testament law that were abrogated in some sense by Jesus, such as the dietary laws. But that was never the case for any of the laws governing sexual conduct. Both, for example, are mentioned (and contrasted) in Mark 7:14-23:

14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”] 17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21”For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23”All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (NASB)

Note that while he “declared all foods clean,” the same is not true of all sexual relationships, because “fornications,” “adulteries,” and “sensuality” remain among those things that “defile the man.”

If anything, Jesus strengthened the Old Testament teachings against sexual sin, rather than weakening them. He tightened restrictions on divorce (Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18) and on adultery:

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [Matt. 5:27-28: NASB].

There is no passage where Jesus ever weakened restrictions on sexual behavior. In the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), he prevented the imposition of the death penalty by stoning, but he did not say that she had not sinned-rather, he admonished her to “sin no more.”

It probably goes without saying that the phrase “gay marriage” does not appear in the Bible at all.”

Precisely-so how the author can claim that the Bible supports it is a mystery.

” … nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women . . .”

This is simply false-see Romans 1:26:

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (NASB)

This is the passage which even liberal evangelical Tony Campolo says cannot be evaded in giving proof that all homosexual conduct is sinful.

Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as ‘an abomination’ (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat-or a lamb or a turtle dove.”

Homosexual activists are fond of dismissing the Leviticus passage by dismissing the larger context of the Levitical code. However, they never place the most famous Leviticus verse (18:22) in its immediate context:

20‘You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. 21’You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 22’You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23’Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. (Leviticus 18:20-23)

Adultery, child sacrifice, and bestiality are the behaviors that are most directly compared with homosexuality-not leprosy or menstruation.

Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition . . .”

This is a completely ridiculous statement that is supportable only when you accept the idiosyncratic postmodern exegesis she has already laid out, which is completely out of step with responsible biblical interpretation. Even many homosexual activists concede that there is no question that the Bible condemns all homosexual relationships. They argue that we must simply dismiss the Bible as a source of moral authority.

The Bible endorses slavery … It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”

The issue of the Bible and slavery is certainly a complicated one, because it is true that the Bible does not unequivocally condemn slavery-however, that it not the same thing as saying that it “endorses” it. To say, “It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites” is ridiculous, given that the Bible was written by Jews, about Jews, and primarily for Jews.

However, note the author’s logical inconsistency here. After arguing for several pages that the Bible, in fact, does not condemn homosexual acts and does not define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, she is suddenly shifting gears and saying that we have to ignore what the Bible does teach if it conflicts with modern political correctness.

Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century … Today’s vision of marriage as a union of equal partners, joined in a relationship both romantic and pragmatic, is, by very recent standards, radical, says Stephanie Coontz, author of ‘Marriage, a History.’”

The first sentence is ridiculous-see I Timothy 3: 1-2 and Titus 1:5-6, cited above. But it is undoubtedly asserted by Coontz, the left’s favorite marriage scholar. David Blankenhorn (who is moderate to liberal both politically and theologically, but a serious scholar of marriage and the family) has written that “nearly every sentence that Stephanie Coontz writes contains at least one piece of confusion.”

We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual … It speaks eloquently of the crucial role of families in a fair society and the risks we incur to ourselves and our children should we cease trying to bind ourselves together in loving pairs.”

Actually, there are a number of passages in the Bible with marital advice that remains timely today (even if it does not conform to the rigid egalitarianism that modern liberals insist upon). They include Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18-21, and I Peter 3:1-7.

However, Miller cites no Biblical verses that suggest the importance of “loving pairs” other than male-female marriages, except for the story of David and Jonathan. This can fit Miller’s rather elastic term “loving pair,” but is nowhere described as a marital or family relationship, but rather a very deep friendship.

In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified… The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann … quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: ‘There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.’”

This is a subtle way of injecting, implicitly, the myth that people are “born gay” or that there is a “gay gene.” Ethnic identity, slave status, and gender are all human characteristics that are beyond an individual’s choice. The same cannot be said of homosexual conduct. In reality even today, and certainly in the Bible, homosexuality is not an “identity,” it is a chosen behavior-a behavior which is in every instance condemned as sinful.

Did the early church contain people who had engaged in homosexual behavior? The answer is yes-but the relevant text is not the one Brueggemann cites, but I Corinthians 6:9-11:

9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Active homosexuals will not “inherit the kingdom of God” unless and until they are washed, sanctified, and justified by Christ. The church in Corinth could not have imagined homosexual marriage, but it did have former homosexuals among its members.

If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow… If we are all God’s children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color-and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that… More basic than theology, though, is human need… . We want our children to grow up in stable homes.”

There are several issues intertwined in these excerpts. Twice here Miller compares homosexual relationships with race. But race is a characteristic which is inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous. None of those things can honestly be said about the choice to engage in homosexual relationships. When Miller says that “no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that,” it’s somewhat unclear whether she’s talking about arguing for racial exclusion (in which case she’s right) or talking about “denying access to any sacrament based on sexuality”-in which case she is dead wrong. Robert A. J. Gagnon’s book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (493 pages) makes a far more “serious” case for the traditional view of homosexuality than Miller makes against it. But in any case, her premise is false. Remember, strictly speaking, no one is “excluded” from marriage because of their “sexual orientation”-it’s just that “marriage” is, by definition, the union of a man and a woman. Many self-identified homosexuals have been married (to people of the opposite sex), while many former homosexuals are currently married (to people of the opposite sex). Furthermore, the comparison with race is not valid (see comments on previous quote).

The “values of stability [and] monogamy” are precisely what is threatened by same-sex “marriage.” The research shows that homosexual relationships (particularly male homosexual relationships) simply are not characterized by “stability” or “monogamy” to any degree that is comparable to male-female marriage, and are often overtly rejected by homosexuals (who, for example, often seek other outside sexual partners even when they already have a “long-term” partner). I would agree that “[w]e [meaning society] want our children to grow up in stable homes”-but affirming homosexual parenting by allowing homosexual marriage would undermine that goal, since the higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STD’s, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse among homosexuals are not conducive to a “stable” environment. Furthermore, an abundance of social science research shows that children raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage do better than children in any other living situation.

Finally, I would agree that “[m]ore basic than theology, though, is human need.” And the most fundamental “human need,” apart from sheer survival, is to reproduce ourselves. That is something that can only be done naturally by the union of a man and a woman. And fundamentally that-not Biblical teaching, nor “custom and tradition”-is why civil marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman

Marriage Wins Despite Liberal Control of Washington

by Peter Sprigg

November 5, 2008

The traditional, historic, and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was a winner on Election Day, despite the simultaneous victories for Democrats in capturing the White House and expanding their majority in Congress.

The latest results as of midday on Wednesday (November 5) show that state constitutional amendments to define marriage as a one-man one-woman union had passed in Florida and Arizona and one was likely to pass in California as well.

Although many states that have already adopted such amendments did so fairly handily (especially in 2004), each of the amendments on the ballot in 2008 faced unique challenges.

Florida was the only one of the three states where adoption of the amendment required not just a simply majority of the vote, but a super-majority of 60%. The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment was the only one of the three on the ballot this year that was a “strong” or “two-sentence” amendment, meaning that included language to prevent “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions” as well as same-sex “marriage.” Florida’s amendment campaign was also probably the most under-funded of the three-yet they still managed to clear the higher hurdle set for them, winning 62.1% to 37.9%, with 99% of the vote counted (official results).

Arizona was the only state ever to see a marriage amendment defeated at the polls. In 2006, an earlier “two-sentence” amendment was defeated-ironically, not because of its impact on same-sex couples, but because of publicity about its potential impact on opposite-sex couples who sometimes enter into “domestic partnerships” to avoid losing Social Security benefits to a “marriage penalty.” This year Proposition 102, a revised, “one-sentence” amendment focused only on the definition of civil marriage, was successful by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%, with 99.1% of the vote in (see official results). Turning the 2006 defeat into a 2008 victory is a great accomplishment for pro-family forces in Arizona.

The most closely-watched and heavily-funded (on both sides) campaign was the one in California. That state’s Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling on May 15 of this year that overturned two state laws defining marriage, thus opening the door for same-sex couples to begin receiving marriage licenses a month later. The idea that the amendment would “take away rights” that same-sex couples were already enjoying undoubtedly made passage harder. This was reinforced by the biased language which California Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown ordered on the ballot, declaring that the amendment primarily “eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry,” rather than more neutrally stating that it “defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Despite this finger on the scale, and a vicious campaign against the amendment that included anti-religious ads, vandalism, and even violence, California’s Proposition 8 appears to have passed, 52.2% to 47.8% with 96.4% of precincts reporting (official results). As I was writing this piece, it was reported on TV that the Associated Press had declared victory for Proposition 8. Congratulations to the people of California for successfully exercising the ultimate check against judicial tyranny in our political system.

The only disappointment on the marriage front was in Connecticut, whose Supreme Court followed the lead of California’s (also by a one-vote margin) on October 10 by fabricating a constitutional “right” to same-sex “marriage.” Connecticut does not have an initiative process whereby the people can place constitutional amendments on the ballot by petition. However, they did have the opportunity yesterday to call for a constitutional convention. Pro-marriage forces hoped that a convention might adopt an initiative process, which in turn could be used to place marriage on the ballot. Unfortunately, this three-step process may not have been understood by the voters, who rejected the idea of a constitutional convention by 59% to 41% (results here).

In addition to the three marriage amendments, however, there was one other victory yesterday for traditional family structures. Arkansas adopted a law (Proposed Initiative Act No. 1) by 56.8% to 43.2% (see here) which prohibits adoption or foster care by persons who are cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage. While this would effectively bar homosexual couples from adopting, it also applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex couples. (Single people would still be allowed to adopt, without regard to sexual orientation). Thus, while this bill is being described as “anti-gay-adoption,” it would be more accurately described as “anti-cohabitation.”

Whatever “mandate” President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress may claim from yesterday’s results, it is clearly not a mandate (even in Florida and California, which Obama carried) to change the definition of marriage or the family.

Homosexual TV Characters — Proportional Representation, or Propaganda?

by Peter Sprigg

October 2, 2008

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reported in triumph last week that the number of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)” characters on broadcast TV will more than double in the new TV season.

Of course, TV writers, producers, and networks are free to create whatever type of characters they want, but the public needs to look at those characters and programs with a discerning eye. Are they just there to reflect what America actually looks like (GLAAD’s claim)? Or are they really there for propaganda purposes, to promote a sociopolitical agenda demanding affirmation of homosexual conduct?

There are two ways to test this question. One is to ask whether the depiction of homosexual characters is accurate. Does it accurately reflect the higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STDs, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse among homosexuals? If the homosexual characters are always depicted as the smartest, funniest, most noble characters on the show, on the one hand, or only as victims of persecution, on the other, then you know you’re seeing propaganda.

The other test is whether other groups are proportionally represented on TV as well. For example, how many evangelical Christian characters are there on TV series, and how are they portrayed? There are many times as many evangelical Christians in America as there are homosexuals, but I doubt you’ll find that reflected on TV.

[See also CNN.com: In Hollywood, sexuality is less secret, still can be big deal]

Gay” Soldiers in George Washington’s Army?

by Peter Sprigg

July 24, 2008

One of the most bizarre aspects of the July 23 Congressional hearing on homosexuals in the military was the effort to read 21st-century political correctness back into American history.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) insisted, “We’ve had gays in the American military from the first unit that was ever formed.” Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) echoed this astonishing claim, saying that “gays have served in every conflict, every war” this country has fought.

In fact, Shays was even more specific, noting a patriotic event in his district at which they read the names of “everyone who lost his life in the French and Indian War—some of whom were gay.”

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) declared that allowing homosexuals to serve would be an expression of the high value Americans place on the principle of equal opportunity. He even claimed the father of our country, George Washington, as an ally who believed that “the way to the top should be open to everyone.” In context, that referred to the respect Washington had for enlisted men in relation to officers—but Sestak apparently would have us believe that Washington felt the same way about equal opportunity for homosexuals.

Actually, though, we have some very precise evidence in the historical record of what Gen. Washington thought about homosexual conduct. It can be found in his General Orders issued on Saturday, March 14, 1778, toward the end of his army’s long, bitter winter at Valley Forge. Like today, his army was at war. Like today, his army had serious problems of recruitment and retention. Perhaps, like today, there might have been some people who would have argued that his army could not afford to lose a soldier over something like his sexual conduct.

But that argument carried no water with Washington. On the 10th of March, a General Court Martial was held to try Lieut. Frederick Gotthold Enslin “for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier.” Having been convicted, he was sentenced “to be dismiss’d the service with Infamy.”

That may have been the verdict of the court martial, but is there any evidence of what Washington himself thought? In fact, there is: “His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return . . .”

If members of Congress and homosexual activists want to argue for repeal of the existing law in order to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military, let them make their case. But it is sheer nonsense to claim that such an action would be anything but a radical deviation from the unbroken practice of the American military throughout our country’s history.

Inside the Brain of Homosexual Activists

by Peter Sprigg

June 23, 2008

Three studies in the early 1990’s gave birth to the widespread belief that homosexuality is determined before birth by some biological (possibly genetic) factor. Although those three studies have been largely discredited, the search for the “gay gene” or, in some cases, the “gay brain,” goes on. Now another such study is in the news, reporting difference between the heterosexual and homosexual brain.

Studies like this are invariably reported as providing evidence that people are “born gay” and can’t change, when they don’t provide anything of the kind. All they show is a limited correlation between certain biological markers and homosexuality, but one of the first principles of statistics and science is that “correlation is not causation.”

I can’t critique this entire study on technical grounds, although I have read it. The sample size of 20 to 25 in each group (by sex and sexual orientation) seems fairly small, but the authors claim statistical significance for their findings. However, they give no explanation of how the study subjects were recruited, so there’s no way to evaluate whether this sample is likely to be representative of the larger population.

What many people don’t understand is that conservatives on the issue of homosexuality have never denied that there may be biological factors which correlate with homosexuality, or even ones which may, to some extent, influence its development. But what has never been found is any such factor that can be proven to cause homosexuality in a deterministic way.

If there were a genetic or biological factor which could fix and determine for all time that a person would be homosexual, then you would expect that factor to be present in every homosexual and in no heterosexual. That’s not what you find in this study, or in any of the similar studies. While there may be a difference is the average level of “cerebral asymmetry,” for example, there’s also considerable overlap between members of the homosexual and heterosexual sample.

One irony in this study is that, in essence, all it is saying is that the brains of homosexual men are more “feminine” that those of heterosexual men, and the brains of homosexual women are more “masculine” than those of heterosexual women. But don’t homosexual activists object to that as stereotyping? I thought they liked to claim that sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different things.

The real bottom line here is that the “gay brain” and “gay gene” studies have so far produced findings that are only marginally interesting from a scientific perspective. The real reason these studies get so much media attention is because proving that people are born homosexual and cannot change would serve the political purpose of persuading people that sexual orientation is like race, and that it should be treated like race under the law. That’s all that’s really going on in the brains of homosexual activists.

(To learn more, order Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows about Homosexuality)

An Open Letter to Rob Boston on Secular Arguments against Same-Sex “Marriage”

by Peter Sprigg

June 21, 2008

[Note: On June 17, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State posted an item on their blog criticizing Family Research Council for ads that we ran in several California newspapers for Father’s Day. Below is a response.]

Dear Rob,

I read your June 17 blog post in which you said, “I challenge the FRC and other Religious Right groups to come up with one good secular reason against same-sex marriage. I don’t think they can do it.”

Perhaps you just haven’t been paying attention. I am sending you a complimentary copy of my book, Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage (Washington: Regnery, 2004-also available online). You can ignore Chapter 8 if you like, since it offers nine pages of religious arguments. Concentrate instead on Chapters 1-7, which offer 107 pages of secular arguments against same-sex marriage.

If that’s too much for you, you can read my paper “Questions and Answers; What’s Wrong with Letting Same-Sex Couples ‘Marry’?” It’s 16 pages, and 100% secular.

You might also want to read our paper titled “Ten Arguments from Social Science against Same-Sex ‘Marriage.’” (I can’t take credit for that one). All ten of the arguments are secular.

If even that 6-page paper is too long for you, take a look at my very short piece that answers the perennial question “What Harm Would Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Do?” It describes (briefly) eight specific harms to society that would likely result from same-sex marriage. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this publication was originally produced as an issue-oriented “tract” in cooperation with the American Tract Society. However, the eight arguments are all secular (the American Tract Society had to request that we tack on a Scripture verse at the end in order to give it a religious flavor).

Finally, let me recommend to you David Blankenhorn’s book The Future of Marriage (New York: Encounter Books, 2007). Blankenhorn hardly qualifies as a member of the “Religious Right,” since he explicitly rejects the biblical teaching on the immorality of homosexual conduct. However, he argues vigorously against same-sex marriage in 261 pages of 100% secular arguments. My review of his book is on our website.

One final note-in your challenge you say, “And don’t try to give me that ‘marriage-is-about-raising-children’ line.” This comment is roughly equivalent to me challenging the advocates of same-sex marriage-but then adding, “And don’t try to give me that ‘equal-rights-under-law’ line.” If you want to have a serious debate, you have an obligation to interact seriously with your opponent’s chief argument-in this case, with the overwhelming historical and anthropological evidence that links marriage with procreation.

Here’s how Blankenhorn responds to what we might call “that ‘marriage-is-not-about-procreation’ line:”

By the way, did you know that cars are not intrinsically connected to driving? When you acquire ownership of a car, society does not impose on you a binding obligation to drive it. If you buy a car but fail to drive it, the state does not for that reason revoke your driver’s license or refuse to grant you one, or take your car away. If you do not drive, but do collect antique cars, there is nothing wrong or illegal about it. Cars can be about many things, including pleasure, aesthetics, economic gain, and social status. Driving is therefore not fundamental to cars.

… This way of arguing is clearly preposterous. That it is widely employed by prominent journalists, eminent judges, and tenured professors does not make it any less preposterous. We can either think like analysts looking at a social institution, or think like lawyers looking for a loophole. The evidence … shows overwhelmingly-I believe beyond any reasonable doubt-that marriage as a human institution is intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children. To argue otherwise is to argue like a lawyer looking for a loophole; it is not intellectually or morally serious, at least insofar as we actually care about the institution we are discussing (The Future of Marriage, pp. 152-153).

Rob, whether you find these arguments “good” or “solid” is a matter of opinion. But please don’t accuse us again of failing to offer secular reasons to oppose same-sex marriage.

Sincerely,

Peter Sprigg

Vice President for Policy

Family Research Council

Washington, DC

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