As the Supreme Court contemplates imposing homosexual marriage on the entire nation, and as Americans think about public policy on marriage and the family, it’s worth pausing for a moment to consider what the fundamental purposes of marriage are.
Unless we, and the Supreme Court, know what marriage is for, we won’t know even how to think about the issue of homosexual “marriage.”
As I have written before, there are three purposes for marriage: companionship, sex and children.
When God created Adam, he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Marriage is not first of all about sex or children, it is about God’s design for male and female to be in paired married relationships where they may know the joys of intimate relationship. Husbands and wives are friends first, lovers second and parents third.
Abundant social research confirms that heterosexual married couples are happier and healthier, are more prosperous, and enjoy longer and more stable lives than their cohabiting or homosexual counterparts
In contrast, same-sex partnerships are notoriously unstable, short-lived and risky. Even “monogamous” same-sex couples in one Dutch study reported that they had an average of eight outside sexual partners a year. Forty-three percent of homosexuals report having had more than 500 sexual partners over the course of a lifetime. In other words, same-sex relationships characteristically fail to satisfy even the companionship purpose for this most sacred of relationships.
The second purpose for marriage is sex. “The two,” God said, “shall become one flesh.” Sex is God’s idea. He invented it. He created it for our enjoyment and pleasure as well as for procreation. It is perhaps the most powerful drive we experience.
Because of its power, members of a society need to know that there is a place where sexual expression is legitimate and will be endorsed by the rest of society. That place is marriage.
Our culture instinctively recognizes this. Even in Hollywood there is no scandal when a famous actor sleeps with his wife. It’s when he sleeps with another man’s wife that tongues begin to wag.
Harnessed and directed into the companionship that only a husband and a wife may enjoy, sexual expression becomes a powerful source not only of life but of connectedness, bonding and intimacy.
The only incentives a rational culture ought to offer, when it comes to sexuality, are incentives for men to marry women and to stay married once they do. Thus public policy should be directed at strengthening the institution of marriage by rewarding married couples with protections and privileges that are not awarded to any other kind of coupling.
While on a sadly superficial level, it may seem that homosexual couples may be able to fulfill the sexual purpose for marriage, the kind of sex in which they engage is inherently risky for human health and contrary to nature. The human body was not designed by the Creator (nor by evolution, if that’s your view) for the kinds of uses to which it is put in homosexual encounters.
It is no wonder that there are a host of pathologies associated with homosexual sex, not the least of which are AIDS and a frightening cluster of sexually transmitted diseases. According to the CDC, homosexual sex remains the number one risk factor for contracting HIV/AIDS. The health risks alone should cause us to reconsider our headlong embrace of marriage based on the infamous crime against nature.
Finally, the third purpose of marriage is procreation. “Be fruitful,” God says, “and multiply and fill the earth.” The final purpose of marriage is for a man and woman to conceive children through sexual intimacy, bring these children into the world, and together raise them to adulthood.
When a married couple fails to conceive, it’s a tragedy, and our hearts go out to them. But conception through homosexual sex is a biological impossibility.
We know that the optimal nurturing environment for children is in a home where they are raised by their biological parents who are married to each other. Even secular researchers confirm that moms and dads each have something profoundly unique to invest in the lives of their children. Children need both a mom and a dad, not two of one or two of the other.
Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas-Austin conducted the most extensive longitudinal study ever done of adults who had been raised in same-sex parenting environments. His research revealed that children who grew up in such settings fared worse on 77 out of 80 possible outcomes compared to children raised in intact biological homes.
No caring, compassionate society would deliberately place vulnerable young children into a home with a missing mother or father, but that is exactly what every gay adoption does.
Bottom line: marriage is about companionship, sex and children. Gay “marriage” cannot legitimately fulfill even one of these three purposes. It is altogether right and rational for society to endorse only man-woman relationships with the label as well as the benefits of marriage.
God defined marriage at the dawn of human history and has never changed his mind. What God has defined, man must not redefine. Let’s hope the Supreme Court is perceptive enough to agree.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)