This morning, I had the privilege of being invited on Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval, West Virginia’s statewide talk radio morning show. The debate was to discuss President Obama’s – what are we calling this, revelation? evolution? endorsement? – announcement that he is hunky dory with redefining marriage.
You can listen to the debate between myself and former chairman of Fairness WV, Stephen Skinner, by clicking here.
As you know, sometimes you think of the perfect thing to say or wish you had said something you did say a bit different after you hang up front he interview. Or, sometimes, time just doesn’t afford the opportunity to expand on a point. That’s why I usually post this, “What I should have said . . .” post.
It’s not that I’m not happy with what I did say. Our society – and our President – ought to be doing everything it (he) can to strengthen and support marriage, not undermine it.
But, there’s always more to say, I supposed. So, here’s what I maybe should have said:
It’s all about the money. If you listened to the show, Hoppy interviewed Chris Stirewalt soon after our debate. Chris evaluated the President’s announcement by basically saying, “Look, same-sex activists were demanding this if President Obama wanted to raise any money from them. President Obama needs the cash; ergo, the announcement.” This is all too true and it should cause us all no little discomfort. In fact, as I watched President Obama’s announcement, I saw a man who was uncomfortable, almost under duress.
Now, I happen to think that President Obama believes in the redefinition of marriage, but I also think, as a man, he doesn’t like to be put in a box. Here, it seems he had to say what he had to say in order to retain his position. That is the epitome of the special interest politics most people hate about our current political system.
“Churches can do whatever they want.” Frankly, I was surprised to hear Mr. Skinner say that. I expect more from him. What he meant was that Churches, he believes, won’t be forced to perform same-sex “marriages” if their doctrine doesn’t agree with the same. But, in reality, experience suggests something else. Redefining marriage has tremendous implications upon religious liberty – especially when combined with another favorite of this administration and same-sex activists, nondiscrimination policies.
Just ask Ake Green, Churches in Kansas, or the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. Wish I would have pressed him on that point a bit more. One of the ways redefining marriage is harming marriage (and society), right now – especially in states where marriage has been redefined – is in the world of religious liberty. Dare say something – anything – that counters full acceptance of homosexual behavior and you risk being branded an irrational bigot, sued, and ostracized.
“Am I an Intolerant Bigot?” About 14-15 minutes into the interview Mr. Skinner essentially accused the average West Virginian of being an, “intolerant bigot.” Hoppy tried to pin him down and Mr. Skinner tried to walk that back a bit by saying he was referring to bullying-type behavior (that everyone agrees is condemnable), but the context of his original comment had more to do with simply believing that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. He never did qualify that statement when I pressed him a moment later. I hope his opponent in the upcoming election – as well as those constituents in Jefferson County – continue to press him on this point.
Is this the new Roe v. Wade? We didn’t get into this much, but one of the reasons, some say, President Obama felt good to say this was because the conversation had so dramatically shifted and people are, “ok” with same-sex “marriage.” That could be, but I doubt it and here’s why. First, 32 of 50 states have voted on this point and every single time have upheld marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Every time. That’s 64+ million Americans and 2/3′s of the states who have been asked and who have answered. Has the polling changed in 20 years? Probably, but I think the recent experiences of North Carolina and Anchorage (rejecting a nondiscrimination policy that was declared a slam dunk for same-sex activists) suggest otherwise. We’ll see. Minnesota, Maryland, Washington (state), and Maine all have referenda on the topic this coming November. That could make states 33-36.
But, as an aside, I think we are, today, close to where the country was on abortion in 1973 – or, more likely, 1972. Roe v. Wade settled nothing. Sure, it made abortion, “legal,” but what do you think? Has it been culturally accepted? Not by a long shot.
It seems, the same may be happening with the redefinition of marriage. Sure, polling has grown indicating that more people are, “ok” with the idea – even people in the church. That was the same around 1972. Now, 40 years on, and things look a little different. It may be we have to experience the totality of the, “tolerance” agenda before we conclude that redefining marriage was a bad, bad idea.
And, frankly, it would be horrible if, as a culture, we experiment with undermining the very definition of marriage for 40 years. Just for a glimpse of what that might look like, consider what no-fault divorce – itself a byproduct of the liberal ‘60’s-‘70’s – has done to marriage. Now magnify that definitionally.
Just two persons or polygamy. Mr. Skinner did a few interesting things in this interview. First, he said he’d defend marriage, “for any two people” who love each other. I just about blurted out, “Why just two people?” What’s magic about two? If three people love each other, why not allow them to marry? Four? Five? Why is Mr. Skinner discriminating on the basis of numbers?
Second, he attempted to use polygamy as a recent redefinition of marriage. I’m not sure I clearly answered that canard very well. Let me try again. Polygamy has always been an aberration. It’s never been the ideal. In every culture that it has been tried, it has always failed. No culture has adopted it as the ideal and long lasted.
Likewise, he attempted to suggest that interracial marriage was once prohibited, but is no longer and, ergo, this is another example of the definition of marriage changing. Not quite. First, interracial marriage was wrong because it disqualified someone based upon their immutable race. The Supreme Court said you cannot discriminate based upon someone’s race. The “redefinition” was redefining race relations, not marriage.
The same is true for the argument about women being “property.” This, again, was a detraction from the equal worth and value of the genders and served to do more harm than good to the institution of marriage. It up-ended the Biblical notion of the, “one-flesh” duality that is marriage rightly understood and exercised. THAT is why this notion was dismissed. That’s not a redefinition of marriage, it’s a correction of wrong thinking on the topic of gender.
In each of these cases, notice, there has always been a pointing back to the ideal. Polygamy was wrong because it added too many to the ideal. Interracial marriage bans were wrong because it kept one man and one woman apart. Patriarchy was wrong because it was an abuse of the ideal. Never was the conjugal function of marriage questioned.
The same cannot be said for same-sex “marriage.” Children added to such, “marriages” (because they will and cannot occur naturally) will always be deprived of both a mom AND a dad. That’s not right and that is among the many harms that undermining and redefining marriage will level against our society
More. But, don’t take my word for it. Here are a number of articles that may be helpful to you as you continue to consider the impact of the President’s decision to undermine marriage, rather than support and strengthen it:
- “Five Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage” by Kevin DeYoung.
- “President Obama’s Scriptural Defense of Gay Marriage” by Denny Burk.
- “Obama on Marriage: Bigot or Liar?” by Prof. Robert P. George.
- “Making Sense of Marriage News” by Jim Daly.
- “Evolution’s end? President Obama Calls for Same-Sex Marriage” by Dr. Albert Mohler.
About Jeremy Dys
Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.